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High Conflict Child Custody Cases and Narcissism 

Child custody cases are by their very nature difficult for both parents and children alike. Being in a more cordial situation at a case’s end than in the beginning is the ultimate goal for everyone involved.

Many would think that both parents would do anything to make this process as painless as possible. If the parents have strong negative feelings towards one another, the hope is that what is best for the children will ultimately prevail.

However, this can be extremely difficult if there is a parent who is very high-conflict by nature. A personality disorder that more often than not makes for a high conflict child custody case is narcissistic personality disorder.

Someone with this disorder does not deal with change very well. This along with compulsive behavior, outrageous cognitive distortions (distortions of the truth), and feelings that can drastically change at the drop of a hat, make for a child custody case that is anything but easy.  

Narcissistic personality disorder is a clinical diagnosis. Not all people with high conflict personalities necessarily have a personality disorder.

However, narcissism is very likely to contribute to high conflict custody cases. It is important to know the signs and traits of narcissism so you can know what to expect.

Splitting: Black and White Thinking

People with personality disorders often engage in what is known as splitting. Most people engage in this type of thinking in a mostly harmless manner.

Splitting, in its most extreme form, is an all or nothing type of thinking where (in the eye of the beholder) other people are either perfect and without fault or they are the worst people in the world.

A narcissist usually perceives reality in this way.

For the purpose of convenience, we will be using the pronoun “he” to refer to the parent who is possibly suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. However, this personality disorder is not bound by gender.

If the other parent in your relationship is a narcissist, then splitting probably unfolded like this: 

At the beginning of the relationship, he saw you as perfect, completely deserving of all his love and constant attention.

As the relationship continued, he became distrustful and outright paranoid. Anything and everything you did was brought into scrutiny and seen as trying to harm and control him. Physical and psychological abuse may then ensue.

A narcissist is highly unlikely to ever admit he is wrong. In a custody case, he will portray you as the bad parent and himself like the hero. This will make you question your own sanity, which is all a part of him trying to control you and the outcome to his favor.

What you may see as a completely reasonable practical request (with the children’s well being at the forefront of your mind) he will interpret as completely out of line. This can make for an extremely high conflict child custody case.

Rageful Outbursts Are Likely

Nothing makes a child custody case high conflict quite like rage-filled emotional outbursts that are almost childish in nature.

Chances are that a person suffering from narcissistic personality grew up with parents who were not emotionally nurturing. This in most cases taught the child to react emotionally as soon as any uncomfortable feelings were evoked. 

He (the narcissist) truly believes that you are out to get him, that this is your life’s main purpose. Chances are, you have received hateful letters and emails calling you every name in the book and accusing you of whatever they think will get to you.

He can not stand being challenged or feeling threatened, and this leads to outbursts. These emotional outbursts usually include the threats of constant high-conflict litigation. 

Lack of Empathy

A person with narcissistic personality disorder truly believes they are superior to everyone around them.

He can not perceive a world beyond his complete self absorption. His feelings of superiority give him the mindset that no one else has needs. Any requests to meet any of your personal needs will be deemed as highly unreasonable and crazy.

This lack of empathy will greatly affect any children involved in high conflict child custody cases. More than likely, he will literally be unable to see that any of his actions are negatively affecting the children. 

Dealing with Narcissism in the Healthiest Way Possible 

You will not be able to make sense of a narcissist’s behavior. You may feel like you are to blame for every mistake and difficulty that arises in your high conflict child custody cases.

As much as possible (with the childrens’ best interests in mind) you need to distance yourself from him.

Divorcing a narcissist is not easy, but we are here to help.

Contact Our Texas Child Support Attorney for Advice Today

The Julian Firm offers personal attention to people in need of family law attorneys in Flower Mound, TX and the surrounding cities.

If you need help with a family law matter such as high conflict custody cases, Jared Julian and his team can help — he has been helping families for more than a decade and is also a licensed Mediator.

This makes him a professional in settling family disputes. As an experienced family mediator, he listens to both sides and makes an informed decision that is in the best interest of all parties.

Mr. Julian and his team of experienced family law attorneys are available for a consult. Contact us today.

Jared Julian

William E. Johnson

Rachel Hodges

When faced with a heated situation such as the dissolution of a marriage, call a lawyer with compassion, knowledge, and experience with the legal system.

Contact us today

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