How Does One Acknowledge BPD In Court

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fatherof2girls:
Hello,
I'm the parent of two daughters (almost 16 and 12). I've know something was wrong for many years and left my ex-wife tens years ago on January 24th because of BPD. Most of that time I believed I was taking the high road by not speaking ill of her. However, all this time I was spoken of in such a way that my elder daughter began acting out. Counseling was ordered and stopped by my ex- who felt two different therapist were quacks. I made the mistake of seeing both therapists to help me understand what was wrong here. Last Christmas I would not agree to a last minute change for my ex- to take the girls back east. I held on to the advice that under no circumstances should I give in and only follow the agreement. So my ex- attempted to contact and had her mother call my sister as well. She then scripted for the girls what to say when I picked them up to begin our Christmas time together. I was verbally assaulted with non-stop profanity, thrown dishes, and threatened by my elder daughter to shank me. I contacted their mom and the behavior stopped when I threatened the police. Things were tense for awhile and seemed to settle again until I received an e-mail informing me that the children would be changing schools since my ex- was moving several towns over. I couldn't do anything about it since the announcement came while they were back east. The second half of the vacation time turned out to be nothing short of horrible with me canceling a trip to Texas I had planned to better bond with the girls. Every chance she got my older one sought to argue, making the time literally hell. So I decided to go to court to try to inform the court of my concerns. Didn't ever think to lock up the papers, thinking the girls respected my privacy. It turned out that we filed nearly simultaneously and took three months to have a hearing due to "delays". On Tuesday I was told that my older daughter requested to stay exclusively with my ex- which the judge granted. A review is to occur April 1st (oh the irony of it all) after counseling is undergone by everyone and the judge can sort out the finger pointing.
All that said, does anyone have much experience with this? Is it easily hidden in or by BPD sufferers? Do judges ever give primary or full custody to dads in California in these situations? Other than joining this support group and learning from the excellent articles, is there anything else I can do? We were ordered to start using a service for e-mail called Our Family Wizard. The judge wants to see if we can communicate. The co-parenting class I was required to take uses techniques to communicate that seem contrary to the techniques to communicate with BPD's. Which would be better? Any advice given is greatly appreciated.
Mark

JustSaying:
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The co-parenting class I was required to take uses techniques to communicate that seem contrary to the techniques to communicate with BPD's.

Can you offer examples of the contradictions?

Is your wife diagnosed?

Why was it a mistake for you to see both therapists?

fatherof2girls:
Hi JustSaying,

Contradictions are there between the techniques to communicate; reframing, "I statements", active listening with re-stating what you understand, etc. Those techniques require the ability to undertake rational dialogue when feelings are hurt and there is tension and hostility. However, NOT communicating and short replies are the suggested techniques to use with BPD's.
During the last ten years we have been to seven different therapists with new ones soon. Therapist B noted the behavior and couldn't diagnose since she was not her patient, the children were. My mistake was taking my daughters to therapist A which my ex- stopped and I kept up for two additional years. The ex- tainted the girls feelings about the therapist (a psychiatrist with more than 30 yrs experience and well respected in the community) calling him a quack. We went to court and since mom felt the therapist's objectivity was suspect I was ordered to stop seeing him and obtain a different one. We were ordered to obtain a new therapist with a "time is of the essence" urgency order of the court. The ex- refused to cooperate to get the help until she was arrested, gouged my face (restraining order in place) and the school therapist recommended another therapist. Three sessions later, ex- stopped the therapy again. To handle it, I began seeing therapist B regularly. Moral of the story, find your own therapist separate from your children to avoid any appearance that you are attempting to sway the therapist and/or judge in your favor.

Thanks for reading my post:)

JustSaying:
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During the last ten years we have been to seven different therapists with new ones soon.

Wow. Thank you for sharing this cautionary tale. I'm so sorry it's been this difficult for you. It'd be nice if there was a way for you to get ahead of the wave of problems rather than have to react to them. If you could start all over, what would you be doing differently besides having separate therapists?

How has Our Family Wizard worked for you? It looks interesting. Is it effective?

Matt:
Mark,

I'm sorry you're going through this.  It must be very painful to be treated so badly, especially by your own kids.

I think your insight, to have your own therapist and not the same one as your kids, is a really good one.

My perception is that most courts don't want to get into the psychological diagnosis, especially if your ex hasn't been formally diagnosed.  There are some ways to deal with this but it may not be entirely in your control.

Let me give my own case as an example.  We separated in 2006, divorced 2008, kids 10 and 11 at the time of divorce.  We both sought primary custody, in a state where the mom usually gets primary unless there is some big reason, and then it's 50/50, rarely primary for the dad.

I filed a motion for a Custody Evaluation, and a CE was appointed.  I told the CE that our marriage counselor had told me she believed my stbX probably had BPD.  The CE asked us both to take an evaluation, the MMPI-2, which showed "multiple psychological disorders" which I believe surely includes BPD.  But the CE still recommended 50/50, and that's what I settled for, and it's worked OK so far.

For you, if your ex hasn't been diagnosed with anything, I doubt the court will be very interested in your claim that she has BPD, and it might even work against you.  But if you can get a psychologist involved, and both of you are evaluated, that might bring things to light.

My guess is, you cannot make your older daughter accept more parenting time with you, but maybe you can get the court to appoint a psychologist as her therapist, and require her to do that, and not let her mom interfere in any way.  The therapist should be instructed not to take her orders from your ex, but to keep her focus on your daughter, with the goal of helping her have good relationships with both parents.

For your younger daughter, it may be different.  You might want to seek joint custody, so her schooling and other issues can't be decided by either parent alone.  And enough time with her, that you can build a stronger relationship with her.

A couple of books you might find helpful are "Divorce Poison" by Richard Warshak and "Splitting" by William A. Eddy.

About communication between your ex and you, I also experienced one professional after another telling us, "Kum-bay-ah" and "Can't we all just get along?".  They assume that you are both mildly screwed up but neither of you have a personality disorder, and if you tell them that you think she does, that won't help.

In the sessions, you can take that advice, and do all the listening exercises and other things that are recommended.  You can also express your own perceptions - not about BPD maybe, but about her behavior.  "When I do X, she does Y, and that's why I do Z."  Keep it calm an clinical, but name your emotions:  "When she yells at me I feel angry." or whatever.  Talk openly and truthfully, and listen to what the therapist says.  But also make clear that you have considered different ways of communicating, and you have found the best one to be a distant approach, where you use e-mail so there is a record, and keep it focused on the kids.  You can say, that's what I have read is best when there is high conflict, and when I've tried that, it worked better than the other approaches I tried.

If the therapist continues to recommend another approach, you can follow her suggestions, and then report back the results.  Give it a real try and document what happens, like a scientist.  "I tried your recommended approach and it worked well the first week.  Here are my notes about that.  Then in the second week the results changed.  Here are my notes from the second week, showing that my ex's behavior went back to how I experienced it in the past.  My conclusion is that this approach doesn't work consistently for us, and increases the risk of destructive behavior as I have experienced in the past." or whatever.  Don't take an approach which puts you or the kids at risk, but do be open to ideas.

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