Q. I am in a horrendous court battle with an upcoming trial in three months, with a narcissistic ex. He has a vicious lawyer and has already spent thousands of dollars fighting to have our two eleven year old twins continue to live with him more than half the time.
This parenting schedule has been ordered by a horrible “parenting coordinator” who made a binding decision to change the schedule from half time with each parent to having me lose one day a week with them. For eight years we have split the time half and half. It leaves me having the children ten days a month, and not have them living with me 52 days a year. The judge is discriminating against me so far for being unemployed (I got laid off seven months ago) and even threatened to have me pay some money towards his lawyer fees! This is completely abusive and insane. I feel emotionally abused by the parent coordinator’s allocations towards me which are entirely untrue. I am feeling disabled to even work right now and have been experiencing anxiety and depression. I am also spending a lot of time preparing for court. We have had two pre trials so far and the second one, which was a few days ago, was completely disappointing and I didn’t present myself very well, getting caught off guard by the judge’s questions.
I have a free lawyer just to consult with and he is not able to represent me, as the organisation I found him through does not pay him enough to cover a trial. I am essentially on my own and am facing this trial being my own lawyer. My children are very distressed and hate the current schedule. The judge is not allowing them to be interviewed even though I told them they would like to be. I want their current therapists and a past one to testify but the judge said I have to pay up to five thousand dollars for court personnel to determine if that could happen. Obviously I cannot afford that. I have had physical symptoms from stress such as abdominal pain and even had ultrasounds done on all of my organs. Nothing concerning has showed up. i started an anti-anxiety medication which backfired and caused great depression! I know he is enjoying narcissistic supply from appearing to be winning and knowing I am miserable. I don’t feel strong enough to not have this affect me so much. My kids have seen me cry a few times but I do not fall apart in their presence. They see me fighting and they know he is against changing the schedule back to normal. I never told him this, They overheard him talk to his new wife. I can only hope his narcissism comes back to bite him when they are old enough to make their own decisions and end up either not wanting to live with him or not as much. In my state, their voice doesn’t count very much any time soon. If they could be interviewed, I do think it could have some positive effect but the judge was influenced by his lawyer that they shouldn’t be brought into this.
We have this parenting coordinator to “help with co- parenting conflicts” (yeah, right!) because I agreed to using parent coordination when we got divorced. Parent Coordination can wreck families and it certainly has mine. I have made a motion to remove her but it has been denied. I am looking for a pro bono lawyer to represent me and it would take a miracle to find one. He will probably have spent $28,000 out of his retirement for lawyer fees by the time this is over. I can just see the judge thinking he must have good cause to take the kids from me one day a week to spend so much money. And I can’t tell her the real reason is that he has NPD!!! The reasons he and the parent coordinator, have to warrant this schedule to stay in place include aggression from my son towards his sister at my house. He went through a period of anger and aggression eleven months ago for a few months because of intense anger towards his father. He stated many times to me that he cannot have his anger at dad’s and it comes out at my house where he feels safe to have it.
He recently got diagnosed with ADHD and with this comes a problem regulating anger. But he has not displayed this anger and aggression hardly at all for six months! I am so grateful for this forum. i am planning to go back to school to get a mental health counseling license and go into courts to train court personnel about NPD, if I am allowed. i better be!!!
My question is: Is there anything I can I do to win this court battle? “I now fear I will definitely lose.
A: I am sorry to hear about all the stress this is causing you and for such a long period of time. However, I think there are many issues as suggested in your letter. From everything you have said, it sounds like you need to move past losing them 1 day a week. Many parents only see their children every other weekend (4 to 6 days in a whole month). Yes, he wins but the cost of that extra day right now is your mental health and my guess is that this big fight is taking a toll on the children as well.
Secondly, I think you need to get some counseling for yourself as you are self sabotaging your court case with behaviors that will work against you. For example, you are rationalizing why it is okay for your son to be aggressive toward his sister (although less, it is still continuing at your house)—in my opinion and probably in most courts—there is no reason why a brother’s aggressiveness should be tolerated. You, as a parent, need to teach him to use his words when he feels aggressive. Otherwise you are teaching him that under some circumstances, when he feels like it, it is okay to hit others (or whatever he is doing). Once he becomes a young adult- that thinking is going to land him in jail. It is okay to have angry feelings- but he needs to talk to you about them…not take it out on other people, his sister included. It is completely understandable why your physical and mental health are being affected after such a long battle with a narcissist, which is why you need to find a therapist that works on a sliding scale or for free (try your local mental health clinic or ask through the local domestic abuse group).
With some counseling for yourself, I hope you are able to come to terms with this unfair settlement but make the best of it, go back to school and focus on getting that counseling license. The calmness that will bring will help both yourself and your children. What a constructive way to cope with the situation you have to deal with!