Don’t Be Desperate For A Lawyer
Only Use Your Lawyer For Law and Not The Drama Or As A Therapist
Heal. Develop a Strategy. Prepare. Interview.
Custody Battles With A Narcissist
As women and moms, we can’t allow ourselves to be (or become) desperate for two major things: 1. Love 2. Lawyers. Being needy, confused, overwhelmed, and full of grief and pain can cause us to reach for anyone who will lend a listening ear and help. Narcissists love to prey on desperate people. As women who were desperate for love and attention, we may have inadvertently attracted a narcissist. The same is true for hiring a lawyer. We have to watch out for making desperate emotional decisions when it comes to hiring a lawyer and going to family court. I am here to share my survivor wisdom with you. (*Disclaimer below)
It’s NOT wise to approach our custody cases from a state of desperation. We need to plan.
Why do we not want to be desperate?
Because people, even professionals (who could also be narcissists), can smell desperation like a shark can smell blood. When we aren’t clear on our motives, when we don’t know what we want from the courts/judge, when we come loaded with unhealed pain and unresolved guilt with tons of grief, we spend money to the tune of thousands. In desperation and pain, we aren’t focused enough to see through the cloud of conflicting emotions and neither is the lawyer.
Lucky And UnLucky with Lawyers
It’s not just luck, it’s planning and pre-planning that help our custody cases. If the lawyer is ethical, you will be lucky. If the lawyer just needs a high-conflict, high-paying client, you could end up spending all your savings, going into debt, and ruining yourself financially. So, be warned. This has happened to many a desperate mother trying to save her child from the abuse of a narcissist, alcoholic, sociopath, or drug addict. And it’s understandable why there’s such a huge reaction to DO SOMETHING (anything) to try to save our children or win them back. But that’s the problem—it’s a reaction. It’s not a clear, calm, strategy with patience— and insight. It’s a trauma-filled, fear-based reaction to hire the attorney who says what you want to hear (that he or she will fight, fight, fight) or file motions for you that go nowhere.
Are You Wasting Money On Lawyers?
If you are “spinning your wheels” in family court getting nothing accomplished for your children. It may be time to stop. It may be time to educate yourself on narcissists and court battles with a narcissist expert. You can get an entirely free YouTube education on narcissism or read all 4 of my books on Amazon to see what you are up against. It also may be time to get real with yourself…. For example… accept defeat in certain areas, recognize your mistakes, hire a coach, make a strategy, take a break from court, spend time healing, just focus on being a good mom, go to some parenting classes (not court-ordered), etc. There are hundreds of productive things you can be doing with the thousands of dollars you might be throwing at a lawyer and throwing away. (There could be another way to get more time with your child that doesn’t involve a legal battle but you will need to get out of stress and into creative thinking mode to see those creative solutions.) What about self-care? Are you doing any of that?
When We are UnHealed And Approach A Lawyer
I used to call my second lawyer with every injustice and problem. This became costly as lawyers make an hourly wage that was more than I made in a week! I had to find another way to deal with the drama and not bring this to my lawyer who would get easily side-tracked. I had no idea that any form of disrespect by the narcissist caused me to strongly react—now that I was broken up with him and claimed my own self-respect. When I was unhealed and approached my lawyer I often sounded like part of the drama rather than reporting a new issue. In the healing programs that I attended, we look at ourselves as a Step and try to see our patterns and blind spots. It’s a difficult line to walk mentally between taking responsibility for our choices and not blaming or shaming ourselves. We have to “own up” to our stuff. Even though the narcissist may have caused the trauma and abuse (think Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome), it’s our responsibility to heal from this. It may require a Herculean effort, too. It’s no easy thing to lose custody or money to our abuser. It’s hard to watch them get away with things and pathologically lie. Watching them dupe others, and create flying monkeys and minions is infuriating. It’s even more difficult to stand up to them in person or in court. It takes courage through connection, solid healing and recovery, and strength that is sometimes borrowed from others. You can pick up my newest book, How To Survive a Custody Battle with a Narcissist: When the Family Courts Force You to Co-Parent for my tips, tools, and survivor strategies.
Watch Out For Burn-Out!
The fact is, we burn out. We are human. ALSO: Our lawyers burn out from high-conflict cases and become tone-deaf to the drama we call them about. A better approach is to plan, prepare, and strategize. A better approach is to document the drama in label categories because organizing the disorder is one effective way to expose it. Sometimes you need to sit down with someone and strategize how to handle your lawyer and what to use them for exactly. You may need a personal strategy and plan before you meet with your lawyer and develop a legal strategy in family court. I always recommend that moms first write down a list of 20 things they want to ask the courts and judge for. This list is important for the lawyer to focus on. If you don’t know what you want…. then why are you going to court and filing motions? It’s important that when we bring the courts/judge a problem, we also bring some solid solutions and requests. The book I mentioned actually has the legal strategies named that I have had to use over the years. Yes, I had to be flexible, adapt, and change through this entire process of parallel-parenting with a narcissist and co-parenting in a high-conflict, costly, custody battle.
Stop Yourself From Self-Sabotaging Behaviors- If You Can’t, Get Help!
To avoid burnout, wasting time, and wasting money, you may need to STOP yourself from reacting legally. You may want to ask your lawyer to post-pone things, stop filing, delay motions. You may want to do some legal consultations with other lawyers about your case—only bring them your lists of wants, facts, and evidence—and use them as a lawyer and not a therapist to validate you. Sometimes, no matter who the lawyer is, no matter how good they are, the narcissist’s tactics, money, and tricks are successful. This is why we have to plan for short-term and the long-term. We can’t use up our entire savings in the first year of our child’s life. The fact of the matter is… parents get rights—even bad, neglectful, abusive parents get rights. Think about this. That’s 18 years of parenting rights and protection that we will be attempting. And even the BEST lawyer can’t fix the narcissist. Also, even the most competent, high-powered attorney can’t fix a broken Family Court System that is unable to detect and punish an abusive, non-compliant parent. So, it may mean that we have to accept unacceptable conditions so to not keep ourselves in high levels of stress and then financially sabotage ourselves on lawyers.
Just like I don’t want to anger and annoy the judge by filing motion after motion,
I don’t want to appear unstable by hiring and firing attorney after attorney
—A Journal Entry
If you see yourself sabotaging yourself financially with lawyers, legal fees, and court filings—it’s time to get serious help. As protective moms, we have to be smart, stable, healed, whole, and sane. We can’t go insane dealing with insane personality-disordered people (such as narcissists) and corrupt professionals/lawyers, or incompetent/ignorant judges. We must maintain our sanity and security. This keeps us in our child’s life. We have to practice self-preservation to be there for our kids.
Restore Yourself To Common Sense and Logic Before Taking Action
Sometimes we have to be restored to common sense and logic. We aren’t always reasonable or rational when it comes to our children. We want to protect them 100% from everything. We want full, sole, and primary custody. We want all the decision-making. We want to avoid all the problems and not be controlled by the narcissist. We want peace and power. Unfortunately, we can’t always have it all. (The good news is… neither can the narcissist typically.) The majority of us moms have had to share, suffer injustice, deal with constant unfairness, and watch our children suffer narcissistic abuse/neglect. Our view is often not the court’s view. The courts view this as our child having two parents and without one they are disadvantaged and deserve the love, time, resources, and attention of both. What happens if a parent dies, or goes into the hospital? They don’t want the child to become a ward of the state and cost the state money when there are two adults showing up in court claiming responsibility. Sometimes it’s important to see from the court’s perspective to not take this whole ordeal personally.
How do you not be desperate when it comes to your precious child/children?
Well, it’s one thing to feel desperate and triggered…it’s another thing to act on it. When we go to buy something, we explore our options—we shop around. It’s not wise to take the first lawyer we talk to. That’s why my Get The Right Lawyer Guide has 3 of my 20-Question Worksheets to interview potential attorneys. You can print them. I instruct moms to fill them out ahead of time, look at the questions, keep it simple, and ask what to document to win the case. It’s usually what matters most to the courts/judge. This means you prep. This means you interview. This means you talk to 3-5 lawyers. This means you sleep on the decision and look at your notes from the worksheets you filled out. This means you put in the time and effort it takes to get the right lawyer for your budget, case, and conscience.
Redefine Your Goals, Don’t Focus On Winning, Validation, or Approval From the Courts
Also, we can’t be desperate to “win.” We have to redefine what winning means in a child custody case. If we are so focused on not losing, and winning we may lose sight of what’s most important. Often, the narcissists is all about winning. They go for the quick and dirty win. They constantly go back to court to win some more if they previously won. Our goals can’t be about winning. In my view, only the lawyers win—as they get paid whether it’s a favorable judgment for us or not. We need to focus on getting what our child needs to survive and thrive. That has to be the bar and standard we set—instead of winning. We have to mature beyond a win/lose mentality. Adults learn how to lose gracefully and learn the lesson to not repeat it. As adults, we also learn not to tie our self-esteem to a court ruling. Journal: Take time to write down what you are learning. What lesson have you recently learned?
So, how do you not be desperate?
You heal. You find the healing programs. You do them. You repeat them—if need be. You try other healing programs for loss, grief, and guilt and commit yourself to learning, healing and growing. You get support (more than just a lawyer). You find therapists, coaches, counselors, specialists, support groups and you attend them regularly and do something daily to support your recovery from loss and the narcissist. You find safe people to vent to regularly to purge your pain. If needed, you wrap yourself up in a cocoon of self-love and safety and get away from other toxic people and situations. You take full responsibility and launch your own self-help program because self-work is the most important work you will ever do.
Recap of 11 Tips:
- Take your time to pause, think about your case from a higher perspective, step back, and observe. Mentally get out of the “war zone” to access the fight and the fighting.
- Stop focusing on “winning” in family court. Establish clear motives. Make a declaration.
- Get stable and sane before taking action.
- Interview several potential attorneys before retaining one
- Don’t rely on a lawyer for mental health therapy or to deal with the drama
- Don’t tie your self-esteem as a mom to a court ruling
- Get an education on narcissists and family court to be prepared. Knowledge is power!
- Do a healing recovery program
- Find a team of safe support people
- Be smart, logical, sane, and reason it out with someone before taking any action to make sure it’s not a scattered reaction.
- Don’t assume the lawyer knows what you want. Write your list. Present that. Let the list of what you want lead the way.
Hi, I’m Grace. In my 12-year custody battle, I have had three attorneys. Initially, I sought attorneys who would help me for free because I was financially disadvantaged with a special needs child. It was hard to ask for help being proud, capable, and competent—but I didn’t know the law. However, I did know myself. I was way too emotional about having a child with an alcoholic narcissist to represent myself. I was full of shame, blame, regret, and guilt. I would burst into tears and sobs just talking about my case. I would become so angry that I couldn’t think straight. It took seven years of Al-Anon, ACOA, CODA, therapy, DV counseling, a program sponsor, life coaches, and more to stop beating myself up over my mistake and error in thinking that I could protect her from him. That was a long time to get over my anger with myself to start moving on and past this.
It was a rude awakening when the judge granted my ex, the chronically drinking, arrogant, narcissist unsupervised visitation with my baby. I had to learn to say “our baby” and share with someone I hated, detested, and wanted nothing to do with. After doing the pregnancy alone and finding out I was pregnant after our break up, I was depressed and devastated by him having access and time. I wanted to protect her at all costs. It wasn’t that he refused to help when I found out I was pregnant and left me destitute, it wasn’t that he cheated on me, it wasn’t that he immediately started a relationship with a new girl while I was carrying his child… it was that I didn’t want my child in a drunk driver’s car. Guess what??? That’s exactly what the courts ordered and dismissed my concerns.
The guilt I suffered for bringing an innocent child into a known mess was horrible. The time away from my baby was loaded with fear and I had to force myself to go to an Al-Anon 12-Step Meeting just to keep my mind off the tragedy and from projecting worst-case scenario outcomes. I had to use all my non-parenting time for healing, recovery, research, and education on narcissism. I had to strengthen my self-esteem which was shattered. I also had to talk with others who endured and got through it to get “courage through connection.” I had to appear in court multiple times, go through a lengthy trial, many investigations, two psych evals, and seven months of abusive co-parenting therapy with my awful ex, the narcissist, by phone. I had to lose my rights and get a new lawyer to win them back. Let’s just say, the stress, agony, and anguish were more than I could bare at times and even turned to churches and spirituality to make it through battles that I wasn’t mentally/emotionally equipt for. The wisdom I gained, I now pass onto other struggling and suffering moms. I can acknowledge and say where the traps were in my case. I can admit my mistakes in thinking. I can own up to the problems I caused and drama that I stepped into —-just trying to have peace, win in court, or vent my pain. After learning painful lessons, there are so many things that I do not do anymore. I stop myself. This includes stopping myself from thinking thoughts that lead to rage and fear. I stop myself from getting even close to the edge of the pit of self-pity. I have had to get ahold of my attitude and make myself write gratitude lists daily when I was so negative and beaten down by life. Sometimes, I had to take myself on long walks and talk to myself as if I was talking to my best friend and helping them get through it. The point is… I did get through it. Even more so, I didn’t just go through it, I grew through it. I went on to write and self-publish 6 books on Amazon about my dilemma. I wrote them as self-help guides and not just a play-by-play of the mess. I highly encourage you to journal your thoughts, feelings, pain, and fears. And most importantly list your gratitudes because gratitude is a solution. When I focused on all that I had, all the favor on my life, all my advantages, all my blessings, I felt better. I felt well enough to keep going and be the best mom I could be —healed and with a positive mindset.
I had to see that I had a happy, healthy, child and the narcissistic abuse stopped with me. She wasn’t being raised in an alcoholic-codependent home. I stopped my codependent ways. I had acquired (actually built) enough self-esteem to hire an attorney. I had learned enough about narcissists so to not create expectations that led to more resentment. I had to remember who he was and not project my nice self onto him. I became savvy enough to be able to name the tactics used on me and counter most. I watched myself become immune from narcissistic abuse, healed from it, and saw my child be buffered and protected from much of it. I saw how therapy with narcissist experts helped validate my reality and my child. The whole experience bonded us together and strengthened us. We came out stronger than before. You can, too.
- Commit to keeping a daily gratitude journal
- Be mindful. Use caution to only use your lawyer for law and not as a therapist or someone to deal with ongoing drama. Document that instead. Bring it in organized, orderly, and non-emotionally to the lawyer to see if they can do something about it.
- If you see a court-battle brewing, don’t wait until the last minute to do attorney consultations and interviews. It’s better to take your time with this hiring process—to try to find a good fit.
My Helpful Books For Dealing With A Narcissist:
I write for moms so that they don’t have to feel so alone, can be validated in what they are experiencing, and improve their co-parenting conditions with a narcissist.
Learn all that you can!
Be prepared with survivor wisdom!
Book 1: Co-Parenting with a Narcissist: 7 Self-Rules to Stay Sane
Book 2: How To Fight a Narcissist In Family Court and Win
Book 3: Co-parenting with a Sociopath: Survival and Sanity Guide
Book 4: How To Survive a Custody Battle with a Narcissist: When the Family Courts Force You to Co-Parent
Available at Amazon
*Disclaimer: These are helpful tips based solely on the author’s thoughts and opinions. The author is not a qualified mental health professional nor a crisis caseworker. She cannot give legal advice or appropriate counsel and is therefore not liable for any injury or harm. Please follow your doctor’s, therapist’s, counselor’s, and lawyer’s advice, as well as your own good common sense and intuition based on your unique case—to see if these tips could be helpful. Child custody situations may vary where some of these will not be applicable for your circumstance. Furthermore, court orders may dictate otherwise. Please use your own good judgment when reviewing this document. This is for personal Self-Help only. These were created from the author’s own lived experience and not based on any laws or rules of the courts. This is copyright protected by the author and is not to be sold, distributed, or quoted without the author’s written consent.
My Tip: Don’t Allow Yourself To Become Desperate For A Lawyer!