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Author Topic: How to find attorney familiar with BPD?  (Read 116 times)
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: Married
Posts: 4

« on: July 31, 2020, 06:38:09 PM »

How do you go about locating a family attorney that specializes in BPD situations or is at least very familiar with them? It may not even be necessary, but much of what I go through seems so surreal that I'd like to have someone familiar with the condition. We also have young children, so I don't want to be unprepared in any way. Is there a message board or site that recommends such attorneys for a given geographic area? If not, does anyone have advice about the best way to go about locating such an attorney?

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« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2020, 07:59:48 AM »

I have no idea honestly, but I just wanted to encourage you that you are making a wise choice in looking for one. In my own circumstance, I met with two lawyers - and obviously explaining her extreme (and diagnosed) BPD is one of the first things I'm trying to say.

The one responds with "Oh yes, it doesn't matter if someone is bipolar, it doesn't affect anything legally". The other one responded with "You don't need to explain it to me, trust me I already know BPD far better than I'd ever wish" with a grimace that told me he had a close family member with BPD.

I think you can see how this story ends...

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.
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What is your sexual orientation: Straight
Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: Divorced
Posts: 797

« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2020, 12:31:09 PM »

I recommended educating yourself on the legal basics so that you can focus on the specifics of your case like this once you start interviewing them. Google "divorce in XXX" to get the basics in your area. I read tons of blogs and Facebook pages. That also gives you clues about the focus and experience of the firm. There is an attorney in my area who writes a lot about divorce and personality disorders, but I didn't like her at all in a phone interview. She was too snarky and negative for my taste.

Mine's firm (he was managing partner) had a specialty of high conflict divorce and advertised that. It also helped that he had many decades of experience including sub-specialties of divorce malpractice and appeals. He immediately grasped my concerns. Basically I think he had handled so many cases that he flexed to handle whatever came.

Even then, you are going to find that you have to remind them at times that certain approaches aren't going to work. Sometimes mine would ask me what my gut said (LOL), and it would contract his leanings. So we'd talk about it.
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Who in your life has "personality" issues: Ex-romantic partner
What is your relationship status with them: separated 2005 then divorced
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You can't reason with the Voice of Unreason...

« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2020, 04:58:51 PM »

My first lawyer was a former ADA in a neighboring county and tried her best during my separation.  When divorce was the only option left, she recommended a lawyer in my own county she had previously faced in court.  She said she was impressed he was a problem solver.  I saw that he was also proactive.  That sold me.

He seemed to ignore my conclusions that Borderline (most traits) or Paranoid (all traits) was the problem.  However, he sometimes commented on her being "crazy", even "f-ing nuts", once when he was really frustrated he said "she's a sociopath and could pass a lie detector test".   Court and other professionals on the case also ignored her mental state.  During court and later years they let the case pivot on the behaviors.  Yet each time at court my orders had small steps of improvement.  My lawyer walked that fine line between me venting how messed up my ex was behaving and the court trying to ignore everything but the worst antics.

It is frustrating that the courts generally don't investigate what is behind the behaviors.  I was fortunate to have a lawyer who could both listen to me and still get the work done at court.

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« Reply #4 on: August 01, 2020, 05:41:52 PM »

How do you go about locating a family attorney that specializes in BPD situations or is at least very familiar with them?

Often if you google "parental alienation" or "high conflict divorce" you will find lawyers who specialize in cases with BPD.

You can also evaluate an attorney following the advice about taking an assertive approach:


It's a good idea to interview two or three attorneys. You can pay a small amount for 30 min to an hour or so. I would take some time to figure out your goals and then ask each one what strategy and tactics might they recommend to help you reach your goals.

There's a weird dynamic with dads asking for primary custody -- it's true that there is an apparent bias in the system towards mothers. It also appears to be true that more mothers ask for primary custody. Sometimes lawyers inadvertently perpetuate this bias by telling dads that they aren't likely to get primary custody, but there is research showing that when dads ask for primary custody, the likelihood of them getting it is equivalent to moms. If you hear from an attorney that you aren't likely to get primary custody, ask them what experience they have when dads ask for primary custody, especially when there is evidence and documentation to show it's warranted. And if you get an attorney who says you shouldn't even bother with 50/50, yeesh. That's not an attorney I would want advocating for me.

I would also ask an attorney how long to expect to hear back from them, do they have experience litigating and are they comfortable doing so. Do they cap how many clients they take, etc. Maybe also let them know you expect that this could be costly and ask for suggestions on how you might cut costs.

Also, the attorney who told you that a mental illness will not impact your case legally kind of missed the point, imo. The question isn't what is the diagnosis, but what is the documentation for questionable parenting. And if there isn't any, are you in a position to get third-party professionals involved to shine light on what's happening. Once you get into the legal system a lot of sunlight can shine on what before was a pretty dark dysfunctional nuclear family dynamic. A good attorney will understand what you are asking when you say there is a PD involved. Most of us don't have diagnosed spouses but the pathology and evidence of that dysfunction can be documented.

And one more thought ... ask about the judge (if it's going to be the same one for most of your hearings and motions) and what biases the lawyer has seen. One of the reasons we hire lawyers is because they know who is who in the legal system and can make adjustments based on that knowledge.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2020, 05:49:17 PM by livednlearned » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2020, 11:23:50 PM »

The best advice I can give on how to find an attorney that understands BPD would be to interview as many as you need until you find one that gets it.  I found over the years that no one wants to hear me say "she's BPD" or try to force any diagnosis on it myself, I just had to describe behaviors and see how therapists and attorneys respond.  When I approach it this way, once I see the light bulb turn on in their head we can start having a real conversation.

When I interviewed attorneys, the one that came in second place stopped me in the middle of my description and told me a story about how when he was a young lawyer he was given all the crazy cases at his firm, it was a running joke that he had to handle the people who were nuts.  I described a little more behavior, then he leaned back and said "is she a borderline?" I said BINGO.  We had a good conversation after that but I did not hire him. 

Oddly enough, the one I hired downplayed any mention of borderline.  He told me that a true borderline would be the type to hit me and then go lock the bathroom door and call the police while making bruises on their own face, and that wasn't my wife so she wasn't BPD.  I tried to explain to him that BPDs are on a spectrum and all cases are different, but YOU try convincing a lawyer.....LOL. 

My story sounds similar to FD's because while my lawyer thought I was wrong about BPD, he came to see how crazy my ex was, and delivered some great quotes on that.  I remember some voicemails and conversations....."Yeah (sigh), that's a whole pile of crazy from Mom", "She is certainly special and you have some interesting co-parenting coming up", and after it was settled I jokingly told him I hope I never speak with you again he said "Pffftt!! Mom's a disaster, of course we'll be talking to each other again!" (also jokingly). 

Ultimately, he was the best choice because he was very assertive, while proactive at the same time.  He knew the system and the judges, was well respected, and led me to the most common sense solution in a very short period of time.  He also knew what was worth fighting for in the court system, and what wasn't.  He was expensive, but also saved me money through his knowledge.


Yeah, I'm just gonna keep moving...today, tomorrow, and the next
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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2020, 09:09:46 PM »

Thank you all. This is extremely helpful and I'm underway following your advice.
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2020, 09:18:51 AM »

I didn't realize you had two threads and replied on the other.

In Texas, there is a standard custody order that is usually assigned unless the parties agree otherwise or the judge decides it's not good for the kids.  The standard is a 60/40 mix - basically there's the custodial parent and the other parent gets the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends and 1 weeknight every week, plus alternating holidays and 30 days in the summer. 

At minimum, you want to be the custodial parent.  If you think this schedule is bad for your kids, you'll need a lot of documentation to prove that the court should order something else for them.  The lawyer can help you figure out what type of documentation you need, but it should focus on the effect on the children.

My (non-PD)ex and I have a good coparenting relationship, so even though we have the standard schedule, he usually sees the kids more often than that.  My H and his uBPDex started with 50/50 custody of SD when SD was 2...now he has primary custody of SD13, and their schedule is about 85/15, with no overnights for mom.  As SD got older, her mom's behaviors got worse and bothered her more.

In a divorce, the financial agreement is binding, but custody can always be changed as circumstances change.
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