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I have been a member of the APA for many years, and benefit tremendously from the APA’s publications, research papers, and educational materials, such as the podcast below. Children involved in a divorce do tend to experience worry, anxiety, and some depression, and these symptoms and illnesses are often situational, and not long lasting. Other children can be affected by anxiety disorders that are more chronic, more severe, and require proactive treatment.

Podcast: Anxiety Disorders in Children

Fear and anxiety are part of most normal children’s lives. But how do we know when anxiety is a problem in need of professional help? In this episode, Golda Ginsburg, PhD, talks about how to recognize the signs of an anxiety disorder in your child and what are the most effective, evidence-based treatments.

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I stumbled upon this article today doing some research on profiles of Borderline Personality traits in marriages and divorce. One of the things that is unique about the case presented in this article is that the victim of the Borderline rage and abuse is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., a scion of the Kennedy family and currently a lawyer and environmental activist. I include this article today as it captures rather well and completely the nature of being in a relationship with someone with a very aggressive form of BPD.  The articles details the physical and emotional abuse that the victim spouse suffered, along with the suffering that the children on this marriage endured. Unique about this case, as well, is the level of detail and analysis that is involved in identifying the traits of BPD, and the efforts that Mr. Kennedy made to demonstrate this level of abuse to the courts in the pursuit of his child custody case. The full article appears here: http://shrink4men.com/2012/06/11/the-new-face-of-borderline-personality-disorder-mary-richardson-kennedy-abused-her-husband-and-children-and-committed-suicide-as-a-final-act-of-revenge-for-perceived-abandonment/

“Whenever Bobby mentioned divorce, she would threaten suicide, but the next morning she would be calm and gentle. She would say she was sorry and didn’t know why she was acting this way. For a time she would be her old wonderful self at night as well as during the day, and Bobby had renewed hope, the affidavit said.”

” It is very common for the BPD to return “back to normal” after raging and spewing vitriol. I liken it to emotional projectile vomiting. As their partner, you are expected to pretend as if nothing untoward happened, even though you’re standing there, still dripping in their emotional vomit. If you do not accept her “apology” and apologize for “your part” in her rage, you will often be subjected to more rage and emotional projectile vomit.

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I receive calls almost every day from people considering filing for a divorce. I always take these calls seriously, and try to get a phone or personal meeting set up as soon as is possible as every person that I meet with has good and thoughtful questions. My policy has always been to never push or encourage people into a divorce filing (absent other factors like Domestic Violence or other pathology, where an Intervention is needed) , and of course, to never promote a divorce when a divorce is not needed between a couple. Sometimes, people that I meet with simply wish to know what their options are, and what a divorce might entail if they decide to separate from their spouse and improve their life and family system.

Yet, with the new rules regarding maintenance, a single point needs to be made. If you’re going to pay (the majority of time, this is the Husband), it might be beneficial to file before the new statute’s benchmark dates kicks in for maintenance (spousal support).  If you are going to receive maintenance (the majority of time, the Wife), be mindful of the benchmark dates; you might wait a month or two (assuming there’s no pathology or domestic violence in the marriage) if you’re on the threshold of a higher maintenance percentage.  Here what the new statute requires:

The duration of maintenance is calculated by multiplying the length of the marriage at the time the action was commenced by whichever of the following factors applies: 5 years or less (.20); more than 5 years but less than 10 years (.40); 10 years or more but less than 15 years (.60); or 15 years or more but less than 20 years (.80). For a marriage of 20 or more years, the court in its discretion will order maintenance either permanently or for a period equal to the length of the marriage.

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Couples starting the new year with a divorce may find untangling finances is no easy feat. Data from the University of Washington found that divorce filings start to pick up in January — a trend researchers theorized could be fueled by a rough holiday season. Filings peak in March and then again in August, they found, before declining in the fall. Many people try to time a major change like a divorce with periods in their children’s lives that are most stable. such as the start of a school semester, or the end of summer.

If you’re in the midst of a divorce, or thinking about initiating a divorce, here’s how — and when — to update your financial plan.

Remove your spouse from power

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In my divorce and child custody practice, I have represented a number of very good, intelligent people who have been victimized by a narcissist spouse’s  gaslighting campaign. Gaslighting is a term that is used to describe the abuse inflicted so as to damage the victim’s perception of reality, in the sense of who they are as a person, whether they are to blame (though they are innocent), and a means by the narcissist or borderline to control their victim spouse with emotional abuse. “Gaslighting is a form of manipulation through persistent misdirection, contradiction, and deception in an attempt to destabilize and brainwash a target (spouse). Its intent is to sow seeds of doubt in the targets, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim. The term owes its origin to Gas Light, a 1938 play and 1944 film, and has been used in clinical and research literature.

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A recent article on PDAN’s site (Personality Disorders Awareness Network)  discusses gaslighting well. See:  http://narcissisticbehavior.net/the-effects-of-gaslighting-in-narcissistic-victim-syndrome/

From my experience representing victims of emotional abuse by spouses with personality disorders, some of the devastiting effects of gaslighting are found across the board in victims of emotional abuse by BPDs and NPDs. These are:

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In my law practice, a divorce with a narcissist involves unique issues and challenges. Many toxic narcissists, in divorce, use emotional abuse to denigrate and control their partners, and are notoriously difficult in the case to achieve settlement with, even on minor issues. In my view, boundaries need to be set with narcissists in the case, and I have years of experience understanding these traits of NPD in divorce and custody cases, as well as managing NPD personalities in the litigation. Again, boundaries are critical, as well as establishing control over the NPD in the case. In other words, I try to disempower the NPD, and then empower my clients, many of whom no longer feel they have any power or voice in the relationship.

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Relationships require give and take. They are built on mutual respect, love, trust, and compassion. When you are in a relationship with a narcissist, those components often cease to exist after a short period of time. Narcissistic people are not empathetic. They aren’t willing to hold another up the ladder of success. They need complete attention and expect their partner to put them up on a pedestal.

In a case study by Susan Heitler, Phd called Narcissism: A Redefinition and Case Study of Treatment, she points out the conflict-focus in couples therapy and how narcissistic personality disorder affects relationships. In her findings she lists,

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PsychCentral has an interesting summary for one of the more pervasive forms of personality disorder that some people face in a marriage or divorce, and yet this form of Personality Disorder is not well understood. There is a significant comorbidity ( co-existence) with other personality disorders. This personality disorder/trait exists in about 2.5 percent of the population, and like NPD and BPD, and the toxic behaviors can be aggravated by a marriage that is failing, or with a divorce. My firm has been dedicated for many years to a) understanding these traits and toxic behaviors, and b) managing them within the context of divorce and custody litigation.

” People with paranoid personality disorder are generally characterized by having a long-standing pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others.  A person with paranoid personality disorder will nearly always believe that other people’s motives are suspect or even malevolent.

Individuals with this disorder assume that other people will exploit, harm, or deceive them, even if no evidence exists to support this expectation. While it is fairly normal for everyone to have some degree of paranoia about certain situations in their lives (such as worry about an impending set of layoffs at work), people with paranoid personality disorder take this to an extreme — it pervades virtually every professional and  personal relationship they have.

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One of the primary concerns that parents have about an impending divorce is the question of the resilience and adaptability of the children to divorce. In my practice at Law Offices of Michael F. Roe LLC, there has been a history of successfully managing cases that sometimes involve complex issues, such as a parent with traits of a personality disorder, Parental Alienation, or a toxic parent that acts out in the family with a lot of chaos, threats, and aggression. Cases that have these features make the protocols put into place all the more important in order to protect my clients and the wellbeing of the children. I have spent the last 20 years focused on the clinical and psychological issues in divorce and custody, and make every effort to apply this experience in each and every case in my Firm; there are no “cookie cutter” approaches and each family’s case is different and requires different solutions and plans.

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One of the goals of managing these complex cases is to create a plan for the developmental health of the children, both in the near term and the long term. A recent article has reflected on outcomes in divorce cases with children, and the findings of the varied research are interesting. The research speaks to the idea that kids that emerge from low conflict divorces, with mindful and respectful parents, do better over the long term. Kids from chaotic families tend do do more poorly, but my belief is that with good planning and protection, these difficult outcomes can be mitigated:

” Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. Most children of divorce also do well in the longer term. Researchers have consistently found that high levels of parental conflict during and after a divorce are associated with poorer adjustment in children.

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As the calendar year 2016 winds down, and as I approach another hearing on issues of child support next week, I am mindful that Illinois’ longstanding (and to some, draconian) child support statute is going to be replaced by a new and more modern “income shares” approach to setting child support for divorcing parents with minor children.

Under the new statute, child support is calculated by determining the gross income of each parent.Then, with appropriate calculations, the incomes of each parent are then tax affected to determine the individual and total net income of the family. These calculations are usually performed by implementing software programs such as “Family Law Software,” used by my Firm and by many judges on their desktop computers. Once that total number is determined, there will be a published chart that will allow the parties and their attorneys to cross reference the amount of total child support that is found to be applicable to a given family at that income level, and for a given number of children. That total amount is then allocated depending on the percentage of income that each parent contributes to the total.

Thankfully, the new statute also provides for an adjustment to child support for cases where the parties implement shared parenting.  Keep in mind that as of January 1, 2016, Illinois abandoned its old approach to “custody” and “visitation,” and implemented a fully updated law that provides for “allocation of parental responsibilities.”  If a parent has the physical residence of a child for at least 146 overnights a year, the court may  decide to employ the “shared care child support obligation.”  Then, the court determines the percentage of time that the non-primary residential parent has with the child or children, and makes a further adjustment downward in the child support obligation.