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My divorce and post decree clients that have people with traits of toxic narcissism often struggle with trying to explain or discuss what it can be like living with someone with such toxic traits, especially when the person is able to maintain a facade of normalcy on their work or neighborhood relationships.  Sometimes, I have to coach clients to understand that it can be difficult persuading others as to how emotionally damaging these relationships are, especially when the narcissist is “high functioning,” or otherwise able to disguise their abusive behaviors from the rest of the world.  Living with someone with a toxic narcissistic personality disorder can be brutal, especially when the narcissist uses the relationship to emotionally abuse their partner, and tries to turn children, neighbors, and even family members against the otherwise healthy partner.

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Signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder and the severity of symptoms vary. People with the disorder can:

  • Have an exaggerated sense of self-importance
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This is a particularly good article that was sent by a past client of our Firm. I am fortunate that many of my current and past clients stay engaged with the literature and groups that deal with Parental Alienation, to the point that they wish to share the benefits and knowledge of what they may have acquired as we worked on their case, and the client witnessed for themselves the identification of these alienation scenarios and the strategies that I have developed (with the benefit of the insights of many great clinicians, authors and PA experts through the years).

This article is quite good and focuses on an important issue for today: Why We Persevere and Stay on Course for the Child Victims of Parental Alienation.   These children are being harmed by the PA.  Most love their targeted parent, but have been coerced and brainwashed to reject the loving parent.  This sentence, from Dr. Stines’ essay, captures the point: It is much easier to reject someone you know will never leave, than it is to reject someone you can barely hold on to.

Strategy, Perseverance, Patience. Three of my many keys to managing these cases.

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Questions come up from time to time about how parents are treated in Parentage cases ( where the parents are unmarried) vs. in a divorce case. Should fathers for example, be treated differently in a child custody case if they are not married to the mother of the child or children?  The answer in Illinois, fortunately, is no.  The Illinois Parentage Act borrows and connects with the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) and utilizes in Parentage cases the same child custody statutes that are used in divorce cases.  These days, parents are no longer awarded “custody,” but are awarded “allocations of parenting time.”

In a New Jersey case, the Parentage courts were expected to decide child custody issues in a speedy fashion, and it seems that this expedited approach robbed some fathers of the right to have a full hearing over child custody issues. A recent case there made the news, as the appellate court decided that the rules for parentage cases should follow the same rules and due process afforded in a divorce case.  Here’s a summary of that case for those interested in the details:

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If the custody or parenting time of a minor child is at issue before a court, should the legal process differ depending on whether the parents of the child at issue were married?
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Dr. Michael Bone has a series of articles on Parental Alienation that are thoughtful and effective. One of the issues that he raised recently was the need for lawyers that represent targeted parents to “step up” and actually give voice (as I like to call it) to the reality that the other party is committing acts of PA, and making false allegations. In other words, it is not enough for a lawyer to simply defend a PA case.  In my view, the act of PA is child abuse, and if we look at PA from that angle, any parent that is committing a form of child abuse should be seen as an abuser, and the “target,”  as it were, needs to be painted on that offender’s back.  The Court needs to know that the alienating parent is guilty, culpable, and needs to be stopped and sanctioned by the Court.
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Here below is Dr. Bone’s view on this issue:
” Very often, the targeted parent will have been accused falsely of being in some way dangerous, unstable or otherwise suspect as a parent. Since the court should always carefully examine any potential danger that such a parent might represent, it should then also recognize that the fact remains that parents are falsely accused of tendencies and acts that are not them.
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Posted by Maggie Gebka on Saturday, November 17, 2018

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Hey, I made #39!
I received an email today from Anuj at Feedspot that Illinois Divorce Lawyer Blog made the “Top 75 Illinois Blogs, News Websites & Newsletters To Follow in 2018”
About Blog: ” Divorce blogger and attorney Michael Roe is experienced in dealing with high-conflict divorce and child custody cases involving psychological disorders. With his divorce blog, He wants to simplify divorce processes and make life better for parties going through a divorce “
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Many years ago, I helped a bit with Bill Eddy’s first book, a landmark publication called Splitting that discussed and defined for the first time what it can be like to go through a divorce with a High Conflict Personality, such as a person with BPD or NPD traits.  Here is a video from one of Bill’s series, discussing the analogy between splitting in politics, and the splitting that can occur in divorce.

Splittign behaviors can lead to conflict distortions, false allegations, and parental alienation, in a divorce and child custody case. It is always good to understand these phenomena, and to appreciate ways to manage them successfully in a divorce case.