Submitted by a close associate, the high conflict child custody case study will offer pertinent details that show how difficult it can be for judges and associated personnel involved in child custody disputes to “spot the crazy” or identify the truly high-conflict personality in any child custody case.
High Conflict Child Custody Case Study: Drug Addicts
What the Father says: He and the Mom both used to abuse drugs, both used to look at pornography together, and both used to hang around with a rather “lowlife” crowd (his description). However, after the children were born (now ages 4 and 1), he cleaned up. Mom never did. After discovering her having an affair, he moved out. Now he wants the child custody of them because he doesn’t want the children to around the drugs. He also doesn’t want the children to be around the mother’s latest “man-of-the-week.” Dad asserts that the mother has BPD (borderline personality disorder), although she has never been diagnosed. He has no formal psychological background with which to make a clinical diagnosis.
What the Mother says: She’s never used drugs, and the only reason she ever looked at the porn is because the Father “forced her” to do it. She states that this was the only way he could “get it up”, and in fact, it was due to his “difficulties” in bed that she turned to another man. She claims that she begged the Dad to go to marital counseling to address his porn addiction, but that he refused.
The child custody evaluator found that Mother was “lacking” in her parenting skills, specifically, she seemed to ignore the children a lot during the observed interaction time; and the children seemed to exhibit abnormal attachment patterns with her. Mom believed that this was due to her being forced to return to work immediately after their births as Dad was underemployment at the time. (He had been a full-time student with a part-time job; at the time of the divorce, he had been graduated and working full-time for two years.)
Can you “spot the crazy” and identify which party is the high conflict personality in this child custody case? Which is it? Is Dad a porn addict, projecting a drug problem onto the Mom in order to gain the upper hand in a child custody battle? Or, is Mom an adulterous drug addict, who is hiding her addiction so she won’t lose custody of the children? And, if Mom lacks parenting skills, shouldn’t Dad get the kids by default? Or, should Mom be required to take parenting classes and keep the young children with her?
This is what the judge has to work with. If you were the judge, what would you do next? What additional information would you ask for (if any) to be confident that you were making a wise decision? What if the Mom stated that she planned to marry the boyfriend and become a stay-at-home-mother so that she could be a better parent… would that impact your judgment?
Take a moment and then click here for the conclusion of the case: High Conflict Child Custody Case: Drug Addicts Conclusion (Available May 30th, 2011)