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Child custody cases should consider narcissistic personalities

The enlightened approach toward custody nowadays is that there should be a shared parenting arrangement with roughly a 50-50 split in parental time for each parent. In most cases that may be not only a lofty goal but a necessary one in a child custody matter. However, in Nevada and countrywide there may be exceptions to the rule. One author, who has written a book called “Divorcing a Narcissist One Mom’s Battle,” claims in a Huffington Post article that the prevailing value shouldn’t be applied where one or even both of the parents suffer from narcissistic personality disorder.

According to the DSM IV-TR, up to 16 percent of clinical patients may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder. The narcissist is outwardly charming and engaging to those whom he or she encounters, according to the author. However, outside the public eye a narcissist is calculating, manipulative and possibly dangerous, she writes. This is reminiscent of the traits found in a sociopathic personality. Unfortunately, when one parent knows the other’s pathological condition, his or her appropriate recalcitrance in a custody case may appear incorrectly to be shallow self-interest.

When the decision-makers are uninformed that this condition exists, injustices occur in child custody decisions, according to the author. Some things need to be done, she suggests. When words and actions are not consistent, investigation should follow because narcissists are master manipulators. Their actions and words are virtually never in alignment.

Since they’re experts in lying without a conscience, perjury penalties must be enforced. All players in the family law court system should be trained, beginning in law school, on the realm of personality disorders. The best interest of the child should be enforced, not just paid lip service. Sufficient time must be invested in hearing high-conflict cases.

There should be no room for manipulation in the court’s orders. Furthermore, the mere status of being the mother or the father should not in itself bestow overwhelming child custody rights, without all other considerations being thoroughly vetted. Accusations of neglect or abuse should be thoroughly investigated and not subjected to on-the-spot rash decisions. In Nevada and throughout the country, family law judges, lawyers, and administrators should become alert to recognizing the primary symptoms and manipulations associated with this deceiving syndrome.

Source: Huffington Post, Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the Family Court System, Tina Swithin, Oct. 9, 2013

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