• McKenzie Friend Australia

Essentials for Compiling a Parenting Affidavit for a Self Represented Litigant against a Narcissist

When the family court issues a child custody order or parenting order, it does its best to put the child into the environment that best serves all their needs, including their physical, mental, emotional, academic and medical needs.

Spending a substantial amount of time with a narcissistic parent can have significant and varied detrimental impacts on a child. The court doesn't automatically know whether a parent is a narcissist or suffers from any other personality disorders, so it's up to the other parent to show the court the realities that your child faces with valid evidence.

Find below some of the essentials you need to put in place as a Self-Represented Litigant against a narcissist ex partner.

1. Keep everything from your relationship and document everything you can as accurately as you can and in a timeline fashion by date.

This evidence needs to include:

· Transcripts of your child’s sessions with a counsellor or psychologist or a psychiatrist, and the GP who referred your child to the medical health professional in the first place

· Documentation of your former partner’s diagnosed condition if you have it

· Documentation of abuse you suffered at the hands of your former partner

· Evidence showing the results of your former partner’s narcissistic tendencies, such as documentation from your divorce. You may be reluctant to tell others what the narcissist was actually like, but you must.

· Testimonies from other adults who have worked with your child, like their paediatrician and teacher or student chaplain / counsellor.

You need to become your own detective to help with your parenting case.

2. Work With a Mental Health Professional

Regardless of whether your former partner or spouse has actually been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, their personality traits and actions can have an adverse impact on your child’s health. Although this primarily means your child’s mental health, a narcissistic parent can be harmful to a child’s physical health. For example; when the narcissism drives the parent to ignore the child’s illness and or injury symptoms or to demand that the child conform to certain physical ideals. Like looking exactly like the narcissistic parent. Like a mini-me version.

Have your child work with a mental healthcare provider to ensure that they receive the support needed and that you have the documentation you need to support your position in the family court.

3. Advocating for Your Child

As your child’s parent, it's your job to advocate for them. One effective way to do this is to gather the kind of evidence listed above and present it in a coherent manner in your Affidavit to show the family court the truth about your former partner and their relationship with their child. It's your job to understand the family court process and to provide the documentation necessary to help the court create a custody arrangement that suits your child’s needs. If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, a McKenzie Friend can be helpful with these processes.

However, do warn your McKenzie Friend about what kind of person they are dealing with. You need to avoid a situation where your McKenzie Friend is fooled by your ex and ends up thinking that your ex is the reasonable one!

A McKenzie Friend, being outside the situation, can often more easily see what's best for you.

Child custody isn't an all-or-nothing issue. After reviewing the evidence you provide, the court might determine that limited or supervised visitation with the narcissistic parent is in your child’s best interest. This could mean prohibiting overnight visits with the parent or requiring that a third party, such as a grandparent or another trusted adult, supervise their contact together.

As you are self-represented litigant, I recommend as one of your first interim / procedural orders you request for your child to be provided with their own lawyer. The court can choose to appoint an Independent Children’s Lawyer (ICL) to represent your child and determine your child’s best interest. An ICL is a court appointed lawyer who gathers crucial information about a child’s life and presents it to the court in an unbiased manner. They might gather this information by interviewing you and your child, the ex and reading all the court material. They might ask about your job, your relationships and your own mental health.

Cooperate with the ICL to help them, help your child.

4. Steer clear of mudslinging but do not be afraid to put the narcissist in their place for poor parenting behaviour

When you are divorcing a narcissist, they are going to throw a lot of stuff at you, abuse, criticism, lies etc. As much as possible, don't waste time trying to defend yourself and do not ever stoop to their level with defamatory comments. The narcissist is smart enough to know defamation laws and domestic violence laws around verbal and written abuse. The last thing you need is to be defending yourself in another court – the magistrates court over domestic violence allegations. A DVO against you will not go down well for you in the family court when you are in a parenting / custody case.

Instead spend your time working at gathering evidence that your ex is a liar and a control freak so that you can prove these things in court.

If your narcissist is abusive towards you repeatedly in writing or verbally, apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order against them.

Respond to poor parenting from your ex with good clear parenting instincts. Don’t make it about your feelings toward them. Rather how they impacted your child. Show what a jerk they have been or how mean they were and how your child reacted. Narcissists don’t count on their victim being so bold. In communicating all this in writing, in a professional and logical parenting manner you get to air all their dirty laundry / behaviour in a court room, nothing is off limits.

5. Communicate in writing only with your ex, if at all possible. Text if it is something urgent about your child

The majority of people separating from a narcissist are so afraid that even receiving an email from the narcissist upsets them for hours or even days on end.

Remember that when you write, it may be read out in court, so only put down the minimal amount of information necessary and stick to factual things, not your opinions or feelings.

6. Prepare yourself for chaos in your life for a while

Unless you know how to step away from it, if a narcissist cannot have you, they will try to make your life hell or try to destroy you as a way to maintain control of your life. This is why sometimes separating and getting a divorce is not the end of it, they continue to harass, annoy and abuse you any way they can. This is why 'limited contact' is the preferred route when having to co-parent. Parallel parenting is the recommended strategy.

Expect a narcissist to blacken your character, tell lies about you and generally blame you for anything that goes on. And they will do this with anyone who will listen to them, including your friends and family and the court and the ICL.

They may also play the victim, making out that they are the ones who were controlled, manipulated and taken advantage of by you!

It will be a never-ending rollercoaster for you. They may blame you for the problems, threaten to do all sorts of things, including suicide, tell you that you will never find anyone like them, apologise (they don't mean a word of it), promise to change, and even cycle repeatedly through all of these things over and over again...in an effort to regain control over you.

Don't wait for them to do things. Take matters into your own hands and push in the direction you want to go. Take everything they do with a grain of salt. Just walk it off!!

Don’t be afraid of doing things you know will make the narcissist angry.

7. The narcissist will threaten sole custody of the child

The narcissist may say that they are going to go for full / sole custody of the children although you know they don't actually want it. This is just a tactic to scare you and upset you. Remember that this is one way that the narcissist is using the children against you, threatening that they will take away what they know is the most important thing to you.

Another motivation for taking this road is for monetary reasons so they don’t pay child support.

8. Obtain mental health support for yourself throughout this process to help get rid of the fear inside you

As well as fear, the person recently separated from a narcissist will typically also experience a range of other very strong emotions, including guilt, sadness, betrayal, anger, frustration, sometimes even contradictory emotions at the same time. They love their ex but wish them harm, or they are worried about how the ex will cope but hate them simultaneously. These contradictory emotions can be very distressing and confusing. Talk to a professional about all these internal struggles to help you be a great parent to your child.

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