The Oxymoron of Child Protection & Divorce/Custody Cases

There’s a well known system flaw in the cases of child abuse and ‘disputed’ custody cases:  a protective parent must either risk being viewed as trying to cut the other parent out of their lives, or risk their children being harmed further & being accused of failure to protect.

When a parent is concerned that their ex may be abusing their child and they call for help to any of the child abuse hotlines, the mere mention of a divorced situation immediately discounts their story.  However, if they don’t call for help because they know that either their concern will be dismissed or it will enrage the abuser more, there is a risk of being accused of “failure to protect”.  There’s the oxymoron in a situational sense… a parent trying to protect their child who reports abuse can be accused of trying to eliminate their ex spouse from the children’s lives and alienating the other parent. A parent who doesn’t report the abuse can be accused of failing to protect their children (and potentially seeing the children be more seriously injured).  Which is the worse evil?

This is the basically the conversation that my attorney and I had this week.  In my first custody trial, where my ex sued for custody (without saying what he truly wanted), we went into court having had an agreement which was already in place.  The agreement had joint legal custody and a plan for a “graduating” schedule of time for my ex with the children to an undefined final amount, using the recommendations of a parent coordinator.  When that parent coordinator had found out about the upcoming trial, in the months prior to the trial – he said “well, we might as well implement what the court is going to order” and pushed that we start doing a schedule of every other weekend, and a weeknight dinner.  Previously, my ex had a schedule of two weeknight dinners and a few hours on Sunday, with only one child at a time.  This schedule was a good match for what he could handle, and even at that, he missed it frequently.

In court, my ex and his aggressive attorney drew a picture of me as the ‘overprotective’ parent – one who actually (needlessly) follows all those suggested safety rules by the fire department or the child safety experts.  My ex claimed he was a good parent and I expected too much of him.  It was brought up that he had begun hitting our daughter (who was 5), but apparently dismissed.  It was brought up that he probably doesn’t have the emotional capacity to handle our children, but apparently dismissed.  What was focused on was that when this behavior happened where he began using physical discipline and our daughter was having fits about going – I pushed for only one or preferably no overnights.   It was focused on the fact that I wouldn’t turn over the kids for the entire weekend – but instead asked that he take them for the days and return them at night.  This was what I thought would work better as it would give him a break, and the kids a chance to recoup.  Unfortunately, at that point, our parent coordinator who previously seemed helpful and to ‘get it’ – he turned 360 degrees and wouldn’t do a thing to help our children.  The parent coordinator even so much as testified various lies.

The trial also focused on what my ex said were ways I “interfered” with visitation:  asking to talk with the kids by phone or being present for the exchanges (where ex would go ballistic and then the kids would freak out and he would blame their behavior on my presence).

The judge was annoyed with me for not allowing the dad to be the dad.  It was as if he didn’t hear a word of the warnings – he ignored domestic abuse which my ex admitted on the stand.  He ignored the warnings from my daughter’s therapist that their dad wouldn’t be able to deal with our daughter’s ‘vulnerable’ temperment.  We were unable to bring in other information – such as my ex being fired from multiple jobs for the inability to get along with others, and at one point having ‘physical altercations’ with other employees.  The judge gave ‘dad’ the exact schedule he wanted, and made me his pay attorney fees.

So, three years later, when the ex has shown that he can’t handle the kids (recently telling them “I’m sick of you”), here we are.  If I call for help – my ex will proclaim how I am overprotective, that the children are lying, that I am making them lie, and that he can’t possibly be the issue… it must be me who’s causing issues with our kids because they are with me so much anyway.

My attorney went to court to set a date for the order to modify child support, filed by my ex.  We were supposed to have a motion heard today to permit me to have our son psychologically evaluated.  In that time with the judge and the two attorneys, my ex’s attorney lies and says that my ex is out of town this friday and I am aware he was to be out of town.  My ex’s attorney balks that the only reason the kids are having trouble is because of me, and they need to spend more time with their father so that they won’t have these issues.  Stunning, isn’t it?  The motion to permit child to be evaluation is delayed two months and scheduled at the same time as the child support hearing.

My attorney reminds me… do not be present for exchanges – even though the kids are afraid and want protection.  It was presented as an issue before and it will be brought up again and construed as me not following directions.  She told me that everything from my side HAS to be crystal clean and perfect.  She said that I am  not allowed to call CPS, because that only plays in from their cards – and that I need all third parties to help me protect my children to avoid the “he said, she said” issue.

So I wait… I will seek help through third parties who are able to hear my kids directly (although apparently the president and other local senate/congressmen are not responding to my daughter’s letters).  I will document, and I will take them to the doctor’s or the ER when there are issues.  And I will pray.  I will pray that I am able to get out of this oxymoron, and so is every other parent who is trying to protect their child or children from the damaging effects of a personality disordered and/or abusive parent.

6 Responses to “The Oxymoron of Child Protection & Divorce/Custody Cases”

  1. Bee says:

    I’m in Canada and the system sucks here. Apparently, rights are given to narcissistic deadbeat sperm donors. It makes me angry as I am trying to protect my 2 year old. I have legal sole custody. My ex is extremely verbally abusive and tried to get me arrested for defending my child. Crazy how the system works for these abusers. Shortly after he served me with papers for joint custody & overnight visitations.

    Monday was our court appearance. He originally had 4 hours a week from first court order. He walked out with 8 hours total a week for visits spread out 3x a week. My lawyer did nothing to help me stick with the original court order after all this big talk before the appearance. He did not win what he was asking BUT we have another court appearance in November because he is still fighting yet he will NOT communicate with me about our child. How does that work?!

    He turned down mediation. This is awesome.

  2. fightingformykids says:

    Hello all
    I have been reading posts for a few weeks now-quietly connecting with everyone and thankful I have found more validation for what I am going through. I left my npd/dellusional husband for the 2nd and final time a couple of months ago- filed for divorce and began the “fight” that has become my life 24/7 it seems. Dont get me wrong- I expected his viscious,vindicitve,abusive,manipulative behavior to escalate and it did-I protected my 2 small children forom it for as long as i could. What i did not expect was how long he could sustain it and how the “court system” seems to offer minimal protection, or consequences for blatant disregard of laws, court orders etc.
    Right now, if there is any one out there that has gone through the “court system” and HAS HAD POSITIVE RESULTS IN PROTECTING THEIR KIDS- I would love to hear them. I am still in the early stages but he seems to be “winning” little things (such as defying a judge’s order to return a LARGE amount of OUR money that he took) and still hasn’t had to answer for his refusing to do so??? I am holding onto hope that what is right” will prevail
    Many thanks for sharing your stories and insights

  3. JenelleMarie says:

    This entry says exactly what has been weighing on my heart lately. The school called CPS on my ex husband and the social worker that came out after interviewing the children and me was highly alerted and contacted the DA. They had no official proof of abuse, but were weary enough that they informed me this was a ‘red flag high risk case’. She suggested I return to court to modify the custody agreement and agreed to write a recommendation in favor of supervised visitation from here on out until the children were older. Fast forward 24 hours and her meeting with the ex, going over a safety plan and the Narc pulled the wool over her eyes and led her to believe this was simply a custody battle and something I had created and caused my children to believe (the issue that caused CPS to be called) was wrong/bad solely to take the children away from him. Her attitude changed, she said they did not get involved in custody issues and if anything further happened to the children to please call them directly and then gave me tips on how to co-parent with my ex who seemed like ‘a really nice guy’. I was suddenly classified as the parent who is trying to cut the other parent out (despite me never having contacted the authorities, despite this coming out to the school counselor who reported it, and this being a clear cut warning sign that my children are being groomed for possible bad things) and not a parent who has been trying to protect her children and play by the rules. The frustration is incredibly high and leaves us feeling powerless.

    I want you to know I empathize and wish it were different and am praying for you and the children. It is all that I can do, but I hope that your case changes and your children are protected better soon. And I pray that the courts start making changes and there being a third option that classifies us.

    • I wondered how that played out for you with your daughter. What does is say to the girls, too? They are brave enough to say something so personal in school and awesome enough to recognize that their father’s behavior makes them feel uncomfortable, yet nothing comes of it! I was reading this other child sexual abuse book that I forgot I had electronically on my ipad just yesterday. It is called “Please Tell”, and it was written by a little girl at the age of 9, who illustrated it at the age of 11. She divulged what her uncle was doing and was protected. Wonderful, right – and much more straightforward because the parents are together. In a custody case, the abuse would be questioned, and the child left to wonder why no one believes them and left growing up doubting themselves.

      Our last CPS investigation played out the same as yours, with my ex proclaiming how I want to cut him from the kids lives and have never ever given him even an extra hour (not true – but also, if your kids are complaining of rage and anger, why would you give that person more time?). Ex even had my daughter’s previous therapist interviewed. Interestingly, I signed off for CPS to speak with her current therapist, but there’s no record of either of us giving permission to speak to the previous therapist. However, prior therapist who believes it isn’t sex abuse if the child enjoys it… and interestingly had to take my ex to collections to get his portion of therapy, still apparently said that I was uber concerned about everything that he did – feeding the kids, discipline, etc. She described me as “over-anxious”. The CPS report looks horrible, and then I wind up questioning myself. It was the same as you – a third party (our pediatrician) called in the concern, and I remember her telling me “I know you don’t want this but I think it’s something that needs to be done” – yet there are places in the report that say I called CPS, and places where it says the pediatrician did. There are CPS workers all over the country who are constantly shown to be overworked or incompetent, and these are cases with extreme neglect – so in some ways it is no wonder that they fall prey to the narcissistic custody battle.

  4. Julie says:

    Prayer are with you, I’m going to court soon again and am facing some of the same issues. So many times I just wish he would loose interest in our child instead of focusing on having the appearance of being a good dad. I think that is all this type NPD cares about that being perceived as being a good dad. Also I feel that the court system and police system discriminatory to women. Some domestic abuse coucilars specifcally told me do not trust men police and judges they side with the male abuser. Even the US society is patriarchal where the male or father position in family and society is viewed as more valuable the the mother or female. In Europe and s America the Virgin Mary is very important here no, a female does not deserve the worship or place of deity

    • Ditto on prayers! I’ve wondered a lot about why some narcissitic parents do lose interest in their children and aren’t a part of their lives, and why other’s desperately want to continue to be engaged in the battle with their ex, at the expense of their child/children. So often I have heard from others “you need to modify his visitation time and decrease it” as though it is easy to do. It’s not.

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