I’m often grateful that I didn’t have children on my slog through the family courts. My experience was horrific, but at the end of the day, there were some battles I could elect not to find. At some point, I could choose to walk away. After all, it was simply money on the table.
But when you’re a parent and it’s your kids on that proverbial table? You can’t simply choose to lay down your sword and cut your losses. You have to fight. Even when your opponent fights dirty.
Here is Jen Adler’s story about her experience with a malignant divorce and an inept system:
Divorcing a Narcissist Is Tough
I read an article today – about divorcing a narcissist. It gave an accurate, if sterile account of what it is to divorce a narcissist. A friend sent me a link to the article. She’s read my blog about the after-effects of divorcing a narcissist but being bound by children of the marriage. She wanted to show me I’m not the only one who understands and acknowledges the issue. It’s mainstream now.
It didn’t leave me feeling validated. Or comforted. Or even grateful for the exposure to a problem that has gutted my life. It left me pissed off.
The article – detailing a book by Karyl McBride called Will I Ever Be Free of You – talks about a problem I know intimately well. The article uses phrases like,
It’s tough to divorce a narcissist.
Children are terribly harmed.
Family courts are playgrounds for narcissists.
All of which are true, but none of which anyone who has not divorced a narcissist can understand in any meaningful way. It’s like saying,
Cancer kills lots of people. It’s sad. In other news, the Reds beat the Pirates last night.
If you’re reading this right now, and YOU haven’t lived through a narcissist, then you can’t understand why I’m angry. Let me tell you what divorcing a narcissist really looks like.
The Family Picture Post Narc Divorce
My husband and I both divorced narcissists. We make nearly $200,000 a year in combined income yet live paycheck to paycheck. Before you ask, we have no credit card debt. We live in a small house we rent from my parents after losing our home to foreclosure in 2012. When divorcing a narcissist, sometimes one has to choose between having legal representation to defend one’s right to be a parent versus paying a mortgage. We pay $3000 a month in child support and lawyer fees.
We owe our lawyer over $100,000. We’ve paid her more than $60,000 already. This is all for POST-DECREE work. This is not what it cost to divorce our narcs.
We have no retirement accounts, no savings accounts, no safety net. Everything has been cashed out in order to continue fighting to protect our kids from their narc parents – and to protect our right to be involved in our children’s lives.
This is who we are. Financially at least. And I have to tell you, neither my husband nor I complain about our financial situation. We joyfully give up everything we have to protect our family. And if the money we dole out monthly, if the retirement accounts we’ve completely depleted, if ANY of the money we spend actually made a difference in the lives of our children or our right to be parents? Neither of us would complain. But the sad truth is, it makes no difference at all. Why?
Family Courts are Stupid
Family courts don’t protect families. Family courts protect parent’s rights. And they don’t even do that very well. Here are some fun facts about our experience in family court.
My husband was ordered to pay for private schools for his children, even though his ex-wife removed the children from private schools and enrolled them in a public school THAT DOESN’T CHARGE TUITION. Yes. You read that right. We’re paying tuition to his ex-wife for kids who go to public schools. And this was one of the better rulings we got from family court…
For the last six years, I have been trying to get therapeutic support for my son. His father argues there is nothing wrong with his son. He brings in teachers and neighbors and distant relatives to back him up. In fact, father posits the only reason I want therapy for my son is because I WANT there to be something wrong with him so I can get attention. In fighting for this, I lost custody of my son, lost the right to be involved in any medical appointments/decisions regarding my son. And yet, the court never once had my son evaluated by an outside psychologist. When I had him evaluated, the court threw out the testimony of the psychologist – because dad had not agreed to have him evaluated, and because the court did not order it.
I was once found in contempt of court for removing my son from the daycare he attended prior to going to kindergarten. I received an email from his father stating the date his father would be taking him out of that same daycare. When I then emailed back indicating I would do the same, I was served with papers of contempt and found guilty of removing him from the daycare the court had ordered he attend. His father also removed him from the same daycare on the same day.
Don’t try to understand, it isn’t supposed to make sense.
I was found in contempt of court for moving (after losing our home to foreclosure) because a restraining order had been filed to stop me. The restraining order was served to me one week after we moved. I was found guilty.
Yeah, that’s awful, but what’s the other side of the story?
There’s no such thing as a happy divorce. There’s fighting and bitterness, name calling and ugliness in most every divorce. So how is one to know the difference between a “normal” divorce and one with a narcissist?
This is the basis upon which the general public, divorce attorneys, guardian ad-litems, parenting coordinators, magistrates, and judges use to justify their dismissal of anyone who tries to shine light upon the problems arising from divorcing narcissists. These are just normal parts of divorce.
I’m a mild mannered mother who has never spanked my children and relocate the bugs in my house because I can’t bring myself to kill them. But I will punch the next court representative who tells me
If the parents could just get along, then the child wouldn’t be having these problems.
There is no other side of the story in divorcing a narcissist. That’s the point. It just doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because,
- No divorce should cost upwards of $160,000.
- Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t require two people for a fight. One person can make it happen just fine, and narcissists LOVE to fight.
- Looking at individual issues makes it seem as if the narc could actually be reasonable. After all, why can’t mom just agree for her son to go to school in his father’s school district? Why can’t mom just agree to allow dad to sign up the child for activities five days a week? Why can’t mother just agree for dad to have full custody so that there doesn’t have to be fighting between the two parties? Why can’t mom just not have access to school records so that school officials don’t have to feel uncomfortable dealing with two parents in a contentious divorce? Why can’t mom?????
This is why I’m mad
I’m not angry because all of this happened in my life. I don’t even resent the narcissist who still plagues us ten years after the divorce. I’m not angry we’ve lost our life savings, I’m not angry we live paycheck to paycheck, I’m not angry our narcs drive Audi’s and Hummers, belong to country clubs and live in $500,000+ homes. That’s the easy part of divorcing a narc. Know what’s hard?
Stupid. Family. Courts.
A narc behaves as a narc will behave. I hold no grudges against the mentally ill. However, family courts? If a problem makes the New York Times, I’d say that’s fairly mainstream. So why, after years and years and years of a problem that is coming to light, that fills up family court dockets, that debilitates families and children, WHY IS FAMILY COURT THE ONLY PLACE PRETENDING DIVORCING NARCS AREN’T A PROBLEM?
Forgive me this rant. This unnatural anger. I admit it’s good the problem warrants coverage in books and certainly in a publication like the New York Times. But lets not sugar coat things with phrases like, “divorcing a narc is tough”. Divorcing a narc is not tough, it is a blood sacrifice of one’s self and children to the mercy of a court system that wants to do what is easy and what fits into their “normal” divorce model. It drives families to bankruptcy and foreclosure. It leaves children with scars which will haunt them throughout their lives. It is a problem that no one wants to deal with and for which no one has a solution.
More About the Author
Hi. I’m not Jen Adler, and this isn’t actually a picture of me. I am the writer of a blog written anonymously in an attempt to keep it out of the sites of the narcissist who stalks my life. I write about surviving a relationship with a narcissist so that people can understand the devastation wrought by those with this disease. I highlight the ways family courts empower narcissists to continue abusing their targets and their children. I write about it so people will understand and support the legal changes that badly need to happen in order to protect victims of narcissists.
Read more from not-Jen at Peace In – Chaos Out
I know this is a topic and a cause that many of us can relate with.