Most people believe that Family Court is for extreme cases and child abusers. They never imagine they will end up having to go themselves because their ex is determined to use the legal system to continue to abuse them. But here you are. Let’s get prepared.
I remember being sat in a child protection conference with two parents, both with solicitors, and a solicitor for their daughter (only a few months old). We had evidence the father had sexually abused children in the past (girls so his daughter was his preferred victim) and so far contact had been supervised. I had actually supervised some of the contact and although there was no immediate risk to the child (we were with them at all times), both parents demonstrated a lack of attunement with the child. Yet I was sat there listening to his solicitor argue that his client (with previous accusations for child sex abuse) had a right to see his daughter and for them to be a family. In my head I was thinking “how the hell can they argue for that? What about the daughter’s rights not to be abused?” and yet here we were. I lost faith in the system that day.
Why am I telling you this story?
Because you need to be prepared for the reality of Family Court.
Society as a whole has a blame culture. It appeals to our human logic to be able to tie things neatly up in a bow and blame something or someone for an atrocity or anything we can’t organise into our own belief system. It’s exactly what people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder do when faced with divorce. They can’t, for fear of what it might mean, accept that you no longer want to be in a relationship with them and so they have to come to the assumption that there must be something wrong with you. Which leads to black and white thinking (or splitting) whereby they are all good and you are all bad. All blame for the relationship failings fall on you. The situation triggers in them:
- Abandonment anxiety
- Inadequacy anxiety
- Trauma anxiety
In Family Court, they push this further. Their anxiety around the divorce/separation results in them:
- making repeated attacks against you – verbally, financially, legally
- launching attacks on your intelligence, sanity and safety
- becoming pre-occupied with analysing your character traits and finding fault
- recruiting others to attack you (smear campaign and flying monkeys aka negative advocates)
- seeking other professionals to blame you
- seeking validation for their own behaviour (by blaming you for it)
- seeing court as an accessible source of power and control
How this plays out
The narcissist will seek to regain control (not just of you but of their own emotions) by making every communication difficult, gatekeeping contact with the children, not disclosing financial information relevant for the divorce, putting the children in a loyalty conflict situation and triangulating your boundaries.
Court is often your only option but it is important to understand this.
If you are dealing with someone with BPD they will believe the court will rescue them and punish you. They will therefore present as the victim and give a great performance, including lots of allegations thrown in to ensure the judge gives them attention.
Someone with NPD will believe they are at least equal to the judge and will attempt to schmooze them and create a sense of familiarity which can be psychologically very powerful. They play the “nice, good parent”. They even sound reasonable and fair.
Preparing for battle
I use the term “battle” because that is what it is. Cases against people with personality disorders can go on for years and cause serious injury to your self-esteem, emotional well-being and financial security so it’s important you are prepared.
The truth is:
- hearings are short
- what you say is often considered irrelevant
- there are no winners
- court orders are often unenforceable
- the blame game will get worse
- their allegations are given much more credibility at the beginning of the case than you would expect
- whilst some decisions can be made quickly the fact is most cases against these types of personality are drawn out over years
- hearings are brief
- they will be emotional
- facts are in dispute and hard to verify
- assumptions are made
- bias exists
- the process costs a hell of a lot of money
- the final orders are less favourable, less specific and less enforceable than you expect
13 highly effective strategies for getting court ready
- Develop assertive communication techniques
- Document everything
- Think objectively not subjectively
- Choose your battles
- Be aware of your own triggers
- Own your mistakes
- Focus on exposing the patterns not the specifics
- Respond quickly to false statement and extreme actions
- Manage your own emotions
- Don’t absorb and mirror your exes emotions
- Develop patience and coping strategies
- Use clear instructions
- Get expert support from a qualified therapist
The Get Court Ready programme is designed around these principles. It is specifically written to help anyone going to court against a narcissistic ex. It contains over 47 unique and specialised coaching tools designed to give you the best possible chance of success in court.