Standing Up For Your Rights

Standing Up For Your Rights.

“A parent's right to the care and companionship of his or her children are so fundamental, as to be guaranteed protection under the First, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. In re: J.S. and C., 324 A 2d 90; supra 129 NJ Super, at 489.”

Family court is notorious for ignoring our constitutionally protected parenting rights. For years, family courts have stripped targeted parents of their right to parent without due process or consequences. This happens because we get bullied into thinking that family court has the authority to order custody and placement in any way they see fit.  The key word is “fit”.  The court must prove that you are an “unfit” parent and that you pose a clear and present danger to your children in order to take away any of your equal parenting time.

Remember these bits of advice:

1. You are divorcing your partner, not your children.

 The Supreme Court has said that Parental Rights attach to the individual not the marriage.  (Eisenstadt, Sheriff v. Baird, (1972) The Supreme Court has said that Parental Rights are the same for fathers and mothers (Stanley v. Illinois, 405 US 645-Supreme Court 1972) and for married and unmarried and single people alike. (Eisenstadt v. Baird, 405 US 438-Supreme Court 1972)

No bond is more precious and none should be more zealously protected by the law as the bond between parent and child." Carson v. Elrod, 411 F Supp 645, 649; DC E.D. VA (1976).”

2. Stand up for your parenting rights.

If you feel that your parenting rights might be in jeopardy because of a high-conflict (ex) partner, tell your lawyer right away that you want your constitutionally guaranteed right to parent upheld.  Politely but firmly let him or her and the court know that you are aware of your fundamental rights as a parent and that you want the court to respect and protect those rights. Statement about your right to parent should not just be verbal, they should be written in your pleadings, motions, and other types of tangible communications with the court.

A parent's right to the preservation of his relationship with his child derives from the fact that the parent's achievement of a rich and rewarding life is likely to depend significantly on his ability to participate in the rearing of his children. A child's corresponding right to protection from interference in the relationship derives from the psychic importance to him of being raised by a loving, responsible, reliable adult. Franz v. U.S., 707 F 2d 582, 595^Q599; US Ct App (1983).

3. Never sign any agreement, unless it is something that you can live with.

This advice pertains to all agreements, but, targeted parents are often “tricked” into signing agreements that limit their placement time. Usually their lawyer will tell them, “not to worry, it’s just temporary”.  In truth, temporary agreements may not be temporary at all because you may be in family court for years. Also, if the lawyers and/or the guardian ad litem convince the judge that the temporary agreement is “working,” the Judge is much more likely to make temporary agreements—permanent.

“A parent's interest in custody of her children is a liberty interest which has received considerable constitutional protection; a parent who is deprived of custody of his or her child, even though temporarily, suffers thereby grievous loss and such loss deserves extensive due process protection. In the Interest of Cooper, 621 P 2d 437; 5 Kansas App Div 2d 584, (1980).

4. Require the court to show proof as to why your parenting rights should be limited. 

Even though family court has weak evidentiary standards, they still need to prove that you are unfit to parent your children less than 50%.  That proof does not include the other parent’s opinions or accusations about you or your parenting ability. This is called “hearsay” and your lawyer should keep any and all of this rhetoric out of the courtroom.  Family court is not an opportunity for one parent to make criminal charges against the other parent in the absence of due process.

“One of the most precious rights possessed by parents is the right to raise their children free of government interference. That right, "more precious than mere property rights," is a liberty interest, protected by the substantive and procedural Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 92 S.Ct. 1208, 31 L.Ed.2d 551 (1972).”

No one will respect your rights, until you do.







What Is Working For Targeted Parents in Family Court? - Part 1

The National Alliance for Targeted Parents continues to study as many cases as possible to find out what is working in family court and what is not. Periodically, we post our findings so that targeted parents can learn from each other.  This is the first in a series of posts offering targeted parents some hard earned and helpful advice. If you have some good advice for other targeted parents, please comment below and we will get the word out.

1. Lean on your faith.

They say that faith isn’t faith until it is all you are hanging on to. Nothing is truer for targeted parents.  We have found that targeted parents who believe in a power greater than themselves get through this intolerable situation better than those who do not.  I think this is because if you don’t have faith in something bigger than this world and the people in it, you will be crushed by the shear weight of the agony we must endure. The only way to survive this severe trauma is through a relationship that you can completely trust and draw strength from.

We all reach the point when we feel utterly alone and abandoned. At the very least, no one understands the gravity of the trauma that has engulfed our children and us. At the very worst, it seems like everyone is against us, as we desperately fight a war for our children.  We wage war not with weapons of this world like money and control, but with the more powerful weapons of love and righteousness. All the energy we pour into our personal cases, no matter what the outcomes, contribute to the ultimate endeavor – to turn our pain into gain by helping to right an outrageous wrong and protect children.


Invest in your spiritual self. Spend time in quite meditation. Give God the burden of your broken heart. Remember that as you love your child(ren) unconditionally (even as he or she rejects you), God also loves you unconditionally.

2. Hold your lawyer accountable.

Generally speaking, we find that most family lawyers make things worse in high-conflict cases.  While their legal duty is to zealously fight for what we want, their goal seems to be to get the case done, rather than to get the case right.  And to be fair, most lawyers don’t know what “right” is in high-conflict cases. 

For reasons that I don’t understand, family lawyers try to avoid going to trial. They even tell us that we don’t want to go to trial. I understand that it’s a lot of work, but what do they care-- they are getting paid.  High-conflict cases must go to trial to get all the pertinent, untainted evidence to the judge.

It appears that at some point, lawyers get anxious about getting the case over.  So they veer from your goals to theirs, which is to get you to sign agreements with the opposing parent.  Often targeted parents feel that they are obligated to sign agreements supported by their lawyers even if we know that we are giving up our rights and convictions.


1. Don’t be bullied or coerced into signing anything that compromises the health and well-being of your children or you. If it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t.

2. If, during the time that you have retained your lawyer, you have lost ground to the high-conflict parent, then your lawyer may have an agenda that is different from yours. Have a “Come to Jesus” meeting with your lawyer to decide if you should continue paying for his or her counsel.  

3. If you know that your lawyer hasn’t been working for what you want and you decide to let him or her go, do not immediately pay off the bill.  Paying a bill for services NOT rendered sends the wrong message. The message it sends is that lawyers should be paid regardless of the quality of their work, even if he or she has caused you and/or your children irreparable harm.  Many targeted parents are now negotiating their outstanding bills with their lawyers. And it is our experience that lawyers are readily agreeable to a reduced fee.

3. Shut down the drama to stop the trauma.

One of the key factors that we find influences a judge’s or commissioner’s bias for or against a litigant is the number of distractions or allegations one parent heaps on the other. You would think that the court would get annoyed when the high-conflict parent constantly distracts the court by blaming anything and everything on the targeted parent. You would also think that because there is never any evidence for these accusations, the court would eventually stop their badgering, lying, and slander. But this is not the case. The high-conflict parent seems to know that if they can keep distracting the attention of the court from their obvious lack of empathy and lawlessness onto something negative about us eventually some of the crap will stick and the court will cast us with suspicion.


Whenever the other parent starts blaming you for something that you know is not true, rather than try to defend yourself, simply interrupt the court and object.  You are not obligated to sit in court and listen to your (ex) partner verbally abuse and slander your good name, reputation or integrity with unfounded lies and stories. Tell the court that if your ex-partner can’t produce some concrete evidence to support his or her stories, then this is just here-say and you would like the court to move on.


Next Up:

What’s Working for Targeted Parents – Part 2

Standing Up for Your Constitutional Rights


The NeverEnding Divorce

Once upon a time a parent filed for divorce in hopes that family court would end the pain and trauma that the children were experiencing from the ongoing conflict in the home.  Each parent got a lawyer.  The lawyers filed motion after motion to try and stop the conflict from devouring the health and well-being of the children.  The Judge ordered action after action according to the motions, but nothing worked. The parents were contesting custody and emotions were running high.  The divorce was labeled “high-conflict”.  The case went on for years as lawyers tried to come to a final judgment and end the divorce.  The family, the lawyers, and the judge believed that the final judgment would resolve the conflict and that then the family could live happily ever after.  Sadly, the final judgment came and went and nothing was resolved.  For a short time, the family was not in court.  But soon the case reopened for modification and enforcement of the orders that didn’t work the first time.  The divorce case reopened again and again until, the children turned 18 and the court closed the case. 

The divorce was never resolved.  The children remained imprisoned in the high-conflict environment for their entire childhood.  As they grew up, the children began to suffer from predicted mental and physical health problems associated with prolonged interpersonal trauma.  In particular, the grown children struggled with difficultly maintaining and repairing their own relationships. This eventually led to their own never-ending divorce.

This story is based on the reality that never-ending divorces occur much more frequently than anyone realizes.  Unresolved high-conflict divorces severely traumatize millions of children and parents every year.  The cost to the individuals and society is immeasurable.  According to a recent study by the National Center of State Courts, more than 1/3 of divorces never get resolved in family court despite the fact that they reached a final judgment.  High-conflict divorces re-open over and over for modification and enforcement of previous orders until the children age out at 18.

Divorce is a 50 billion dollar a year industry, the majority of which is spent on high-conflict cases. Why then, can’t these cases be resolved? High-conflict cases do not get resolved because family law attorneys and judges don’t understand that usually one parent has a relationally difficult personality disorder that is driving the ongoing conflict. Instead, the majority of family courts think that high-conflict cases are situations in which both parents just can’t get along and therefore they both are contributing to the conflict.  The simplistic assumption that high-conflict cases are driven by two normal, healthy, but stubborn parents, wastes precious time and resources by never getting to the cause of all of the conflict. 

Because family court lawyers and judges don’t recognize that the cause of high-conflict divorces is usually one parent with a high-conflict personality, such as narcissistic personality disorder, they throw an arsenal of orders at the parents and hope that one or more will work.  Parents in high-conflict cases jump through time-consuming and expensive hoops that do not bring the divorce any closer to resolution. Some of the strategies that family court uses in high-conflict cases which are NOT effective include mediation, parent education programs, therapy, placement schedules, custody evaluations, and engaging parenting coordinators.  These strategies often make the conflict worse and delay realistic intervention and resolution.  But, family courts keep doing these same things over and over expecting to get different results.  This is why high-conflict divorces appear crazy, chaotic, and confusing and are never resolved to the peril of the children, family, and society.

Resolving high-conflict family court cases is not rocket science but does require using the scientific of problem solving. The first step in problem solving is to analyze the cause of the problem. 

Let’s look at how health care problem solves.  A woman goes to her doctor complaining of severe back pain and fatigue. What does the doctor do?  He or she looks for the cause of the symptoms by thoroughly assessing the patient’s history and running additional tests. 

The most important thing to the doctor is to get an accurate diagnosis so that the treatment will be effective and efficient.  Without a sure diagnosis the doctor’s actions would be at best a waste of time and money and at worse, they could be lethal.  The point is that medical professionals are careful not to make any assumptions or try any treatments until they have made a thorough assessment of the patient and have identified the cause of the symptoms. Once a medical professional identifies the cause, then he or she can directly treat the problem with confidence and the symptoms will resolve themselves.  The final step of problem solving in this example is After Care, in which the medical team follows up with the patient to make sure that the problem has been fully resolved.

 Unresolved high-conflict divorces severely traumatize millions of children and parents every year. These cases put a serious burden on family court and society and cause life-long harm to the children.  Family court can resolve these cases by correctly identifying the problem through psychological testing conducted by a psychologist competent in personality disorders.  Psychologically evaluating the parents is not an attempt to assign blame or stigmatize a parent, but is the only way to get valid evidence about the cause of high-conflict cases.  Once the parental mental illness is understood, the court can order treatments that will finally resolve these never-ending divorces.





How Family Courts Get "High-conflict" Cases Wrong

High-conflict cases have always baffled family court.  Family law professionals have tried to resolve these cases through mediation, collaboration, and the traditional adversarial process, but nothing has worked.  This had created a serious backlog of high-conflict cases, frustrating family law professionals and traumatizing vulnerable families.  Family court dockets are bulging from new high-conflict cases that are piled on top of ongoing cases with no end in sight.  Family law must adopt the evidence-based science of high-conflict in order to understand and effectively resolve these troublesome cases.

Family law has not been able to resolve high-conflict cases because they misinterpret the meaning of the word “high-conflict.”  Family law and mental health professionals mistakenly believe that high-conflict means that both parties are contributing to the conflict.  After working with hundreds of high-conflict families, I know that this is simply not true.  High-conflict does not refer to the interaction between parties,  it means that one party is causing the conflict because he or she has an untreated high-conflict personality.   

Respected high-conflict expert Bill Eddy states that most…“high-conflict families have only one parent with a high-conflict personality who is driving the dispute, while the other parent is mostly acting reasonably and just trying to protect the children from the high-conflict parent.1.  Author, Dr. Karyl McBride further explains how family courts misinterpret these types of cases.  “A common perception among divorce lawyers, therapists, parenting-time evaluators, judges, and other professionals is that, whenever you have a “high-conflict” divorce, both parties are responsible for the conflict. Many professionals assume that difficult, drawn-out custody battles are caused by two parents who are each stubborn, selfish, and perhaps a bit crazy.” 2

When family court professionals make the mistake of assuming that both parents are responsible for the conflict, it puts the case into a never-ending tailspin.  This is because the high-conflict parent doesn’t want the court to resolve real and relevant issues.  Instead, he or she wants to enlist the help of the court in blaming and punishing the other parent.  In court, parents with high-conflict personalities constantly create conflict, chaos, and suspicion around the other, reasonable parent.  They distract the court with irrelevant and confusing accusations and innuendos without a shred of real evidence.  The problem is that the court often accepts these empty verbal character assaults at face value and wastes precious time chasing lies around in circles while the reasonable parent tries to defend him or herself.  Sadly even though there is no truth to the high-conflict parents’ stories and lies the accusations alone begin to shed suspicion on the reasonable parent, further complicating the case.

If family court wants to stop the nightmare of high-conflict divorces and disputes, they must understand the scientific nature and the relational dynamics of parents with high-conflict personalities.  The National Alliance for Targeted Parents urges all family law stakeholders to take advantage of the increasing number of educational programs and books designed to help family law understand and effectively manage high-conflict cases.

1. Eddy, Bill. (2010). Don’t Alienate the Kids! Raising resilient Children While Avoiding High conflict divorce.  HCI Press. Scottsdale AZ.  P. 198.

2. McBride, Karyl. (2015). Will I Ever Be Free of You?: How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family (p. 4). Atria Books. Kindle Edition, NY,NY.



The ACE Cluster in High Conflict Family Court

What Oprah said on 60 minutes that will help end family court trauma.

Adverse Childhood Experience (ACES) cluster around the underlying pathology of the parent who displays abusive patterns of behavior such as a lack of empathy, and someone who exploits others for personal gain. 

1. Living with a mentally impaired parent

2. Witnessing domestic violence in the form of coercive control.

3. Psychological/emotional abuse

4. Psychological/emotional neglect

5. High-conflict family court

6. Loss of a parent from estrangement.

Please comment below and be sure to join the National Alliance for Targeted Parents


Don't Call It Parent Alienation, Call It Trauma

click the arrow for video

There is only one way to reform family courts and that is for the federal government to expect them to

be trauma-informed. 

High-conflict family court is more than one parent brainwashing a child to reject the targeted parent.  High-conflict family court is a cesspool of deadly trauma.  It is the synergy of the top sources of trauma in this country; parental mental illness, domestic violence and child psychological/emotional abuse. 

1. Parental Mental Illness - one parent abuses and neglects his or her family due to their narcissistic and/or borderline personality disorder traits. 

2. Domestic Violence - the mentally impaired parent uses coercive control  to terrify the targeted parent into not exposing his or her abusive behaviors.

3. Child Psychological/emotional abuse and neglect is also called psychological maltreatment.  This along with living with a mentally impaired parent, witnessing domestic violence, high-conflict divorce (that goes on for years), and losing a parent due to alienation, adds up to an ACE score of 6+ out of the top 10 Adverse Childhood Experience. 

On top of this, our children's only chance of recovery from trauma is through the loving safety of the targeted parent, who has been distanced, if not all together erased from the child's life by the erroneous decisions and judgments by those "professionals" in high-conflict family court.

The bottom line is that excessive trauma is prolonged and escalated by high-conflict family court and becomes deadly to our children. 

Children of high-conflict family court disputes develop mental and physical health problems that include, but are not limited to:

depression, anxiety, relational problems, including transmitting the trauma to the next generation (trauma reenactment), self-destructive behaviors like drug and alcohol abuse, and are at a 5000% increased risk for suicide, and educational and occupational problems. They also are at a high risk for developing cancer, heart and lung disease and dying 20 years earlier than without family court trauma.

Call To Action

January 2018: Call to Action

Please watch this video.


Here are three easy things that YOU can do right NOW

to help end family court trauma!

1. Sign Dr. Childress’ petition to the American Psychological Association (APA). 

The Petition to the APA is on

2. Support Ginger Gentile’s Documentary Erasing Family.

Tomorrow, January 10th,  add the frame #erased to your profile picture on facebook--it's easy.

  1. Go to Erased Family Facebook and “like” their page.
  2. Go to your facebook and click on “update profile picture,” and frames will come up.
  3. Select the frame #erased.

3. Support House Resolution 443. 

Here is a summary of the bill:

HR 443 recognizes the importance, effectiveness, and need for trauma-informed care among existing federal programs and agencies. (Trauma-informed care takes into account a patient's history of trauma in the design of the patient's treatment.) Encourages the use of trauma-informed care within the federal government.

Expresses support for the designation of National Trauma Awareness Month and National Trauma-Informed Awareness Day.

Here is what to do:

Call, write, email or visit your state representative in Congress (your opinion will probably be taken by an aid who will relay whatever you tell him or her).  They are paid to listen and relay you message.  Tell them how law enforcement, child protective services and/or family court has ripped apart the bonds between you and your children because they are not trauma informed. 

Believe me, they will listen!   The aid that I talked to has a degree in psychology and worked at a psychiatric hospital!  She was very empathetic and understanding.  

If family court and/or child protective services become trauma-informed, it would end the nightmare!


Contact Congressman Mike Gallagher from Wisconsin and Congressman Danny Davis from Illinois at 202-224-3121.  Thank them for co-sponsoring the bill.  Be sure to tell them where you are from.

Currently 14 Representatives from 9 states have signed on as co-sponsors for this bill.  If you are from on of these states please call the representative and thank them for co-sponsoring this bill.  If you are from another state, please call your representative and urge them to sponsor this bill.

  • Rep. Davis, Danny K. [D-IL-7]*,
  • Rep. Duffy, Sean P. [R-WI-7]
  • Rep. Napolitano, Grace F. [D-CA-32]
  • Rep. Kind, Ron [D-WI-3]
  • Rep. Grothman, Glenn [R-WI-6]
  • Rep. Sensenbrenner, F. James, Jr. [R-WI-5]
  • Rep. Pocan, Mark [D-WI-2]
  • Rep. Moore, Gwen [D-WI-4]
  • Rep. Bacon, Don [R-NE-2]
  • Rep. Kelly, Trent [R-MS-1]
  • Rep. Comstock, Barbara [R-VA-10]
  • Rep. Hanabusa, Colleen [D-HI-1]
  • Rep. Love, Mia B. [R-UT-4]
  • Rep. Delaney, John K. [D-MD-6]

Boom! Your Done!

I thank you, we thank you, our children thank you!

Our Family Wizard

Our Family Wizard

by Guest Blogger

I first heard about Our Family Wizard in 2015 when I was studying for my Divorce Coaching Certification.  I remember thinking that it sounded like a useful tool for my clients and that was all.  I guess I thought that my divorce proceedings were over so why would I use OFW?  It was not until 2017, when I had to file for (yet another) Order of Protection from my ex-husband, that I truly understood the benefits of Our Family Wizard (OFW). 

I went through a High Conflict Divorce myself in 2008 and I am still harassed and targeted for blame and abuse by my ex-husband. He is a true blue High Conflict Person who can’t manage his emotions, think rationally, or focus on the well-being of our son.  As Bill Eddy states in his books,

“High Conflict People aren’t just difficult people,

they are the MOST difficult people.”

As I mentioned, this summer I had to file another OOP against my ex-husband and, this time, I asked the judge to order that he and I only be allowed to communicate on Our Family Wizard.  I am tired of the never- ending barrage of texts and emails and phone calls from my ex.  Our Judge ordered us to sign up for OFW at $99 each per year.  For $8.25 per month, I have more peace in my life.  My ex’s texts and emails are all filed where the court or any professional that I choose can see at any time.

Over the years, I have learned not to respond to his desperate attempts to harass and control me except for in a BIFF manner. 

BIFF stands for Brief, Informative, Friendly, and Firm another tool that I have learned from Bill Eddy’s teachings.   However, I still had to keep track and file all of his messages in case the court wanted to see evidence of the abuse and try to sort out all of the “he said, she said” that typically ensued.  This used to take hours organizing, filing and copying them to my lawyer. It added so much stress that it affected my quality of life. 

Now, all of our correspondence is saved automatically.  Everything is stamped with the date and time and I can even see when he views my messages to him.  According to our court order, my ex cannot contact me by phone unless it is a medical or school emergency with our son.  OFW allows me to set up notification alerts so I know every time he does send me a message, I can receive notification alerts via email and text. 

The more I use OFW the more benefits I find.  Recently, I gave my lawyer permission to access my OFW files by simply giving OFW her name and email and then OFW sent her a request.  She then was able to access OFW for free and see my files and review them. 

A few other benefits of OFW are:   

·       A calendar to track parenting time, family activities and events for the children, holiday schedules, and more. Parents can even make simple requests for trades in parenting time right on the calendar. That way, all information about the schedule stays on the calendar without having to be written out elsewhere.

·       An expense log where parents document shared parenting expenses, reimbursement requests, and can even make payments between each other for things like unreimbursed medical expenses or child support. 

·       An information bank (“My Files”) for parents to store important family data such as insurance details, medical information, emergency contacts, emails, and much more. Parents can also upload shared files like report cards, field trip permission slips, homework, photos, and other important documents.

·       Messaging on OFW will always document the date and time that a message is sent and first viewed by a parent. Also, OFW offers Tonemeter for messages, which helps parents to be more aware of their tone when communicating. This is at an added cost.

·       I can also upload screenshots of texts from my ex and save them in the My Files area with descriptions and dates.

More than facilitating clear and documented communication, OFW helps parents to be more conscious about protecting their children from conflict. The “private zone” that OFW creates for parent communication is not easily accessible for children, unlike overhearing a phone call or seeing a text message flash across their parent's smartphone. This helps to shield children from difficult conversations that they don't need to be a part of and lets them focus on just being kids. In my case, this was of paramount importance as my son was seeing and hearing a lot of conflict between us at his father’s house, and he began to internalize the stress and he became anxious and depressed.

OFW is one of the tools that I am now using to help bring more peace and decrease stress in my life.  As someone who was married to an HCP and has to co-parent with one, I recommend OFW wholeheartedly.  I am a better mother to my son and less consumed with keeping track of and documenting every interaction with my ex husband.



Active Duty

Active Duty

The first thing that I remembered was crawling on my hands and knees into the backseat of the police car and being surprised that it was so hard and cold.  Never the less, I felt safe and I laid down and closed my eyes. I didn’t think about my little dog Mo who had been in the car with me, where I was, where I was going, or why.

The next clear image I had was a day or two later, when I was standing in my sister’s kitchen with my bags packed and Mo by my side.  Patti looked up calmly and asked,  “Where do you think you are going?”  I mumbled something about having to get home, but she really didn’t care what I had said.  She just told me to turn around and go back upstairs to bed and I did.

A couple of days later Patti and I talked about what had happened to me as we read the police and the hospital report together.  She told me that the police found me driving slowly down some unfamiliar street, my car repeatedly bumping up against curb. They said that I was crying hysterically about losing my children.  The police took me to the nearest hospital where Patti and her husband, Patrick were waiting.  The emergency personnel were baffled about my condition because they couldn’t find any indications of physical injury, drugs or alcohol.  Eventually, Patti and Patrick took Mo and I to their home and cared of us until I was feeling good enough to make the 2 hour drive back home.

In an emergency appointment, my psychiatrist quite unconcerned about my temporary lapse of consciousness, began to explain what had happened to me.  Dr. Strong said that he had seen “this type of thing” all the time as a medic in the Sand wars.  “People call it combat shock or battle fatigue,” Dr. Strong said.  “It was fairly common to find soldiers wondering around the battlefield, oblivious to the fact that they were in a war zone.  The treatment for battle fatigue or combat shock was simply, care.  We would guide the soldiers back behind the fighting lines, give then some warm food and stay with them until they felt safe and secure.  Sometimes, we would play soothing music.   In a few days their consciousness would return and we would send then back to the fighting.”

I listened to Dr. Strong’s explanation and it actually made sense to me because I was a targeted parent.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had been on a psychological battlefield for years as my narcissistic ex-husband persistently but subtly assaulted my mind and spirit.  All I knew was that I was getting to the end of my rope emotionally and I was helpless to escape from whatever it was that continued to chip away at the person I used to be only a short time ago.  I was in a constant state of terror that I was losing my mind, my home, and my children. Apparently, like soldiers who had experienced too much atrocity, terror and helplessness, I let go of the end of my rope and took a break from the stark raving madness of my reality.

Whether you are a soldier trying to protect yourself and your unit, or a parent trying to protect your children; trauma is a matter of life and death.  Even the bravest and strongest combat soldiers can be psychologically overwhelmed by immersion in an environment that threatens their life or the lives of those who they love.  Psychological trauma is not something that can be muscled through or that anyone can just get over.  

When we consider that trained soldiers and seasoned parents can become completely disabled by the toxic stress of psychological trauma, it gives us a horribly clear picture of what trauma can do to children.  The truth is that abusive and neglectful narcissistic (borderline) parents are more harmful to their children than combat is to soldiers.  And while our country boasts of nationwide campaigns to help combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder, America ignores millions of her abused and neglected children who never feel the safety or security of getting away from the enemy lines. Even worse is that parents, who children love and trust to protect them are their enemies on the developmental battlefield.



High Conflict Court and Therapy

Narcissistic (borderline) parents manipulate family courts to keep their focus on the child’s rejection of the targeted parent.  As long as the courts think that the “problem” in high conflict cases lies in a damaged relationship between the child and targeted parent, they are likely to order therapy.   Even when one parent has been diagnosed with narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder, the courts don't order the untreated, seriously mentally ill and abusive parent to therapy.  The narcissist/borderline is again, left completely unaccountable. 

Family courts order the targeted parent and the psychologically abused child to therapy

to “fix” the problem;

but that never happens.

Even targeted parents want the court to order therapy.  They know that the "problem" is the manipulation and control of the narcissistic (borderline) parent but targeted parents are so grief stricken that they will do anything that might relieve some of the pain from being emotionally and physically separated from their children. 

Targeted parents believe that therapists will recognize the impact that narcissistic personality disorder has on the family and report it to the court so they will stop it;

but that never happens.

Therapy cannot “fix” the problem because the problem is the only member of the family who is NOT meeting with the therapist.  Neither the child nor the targeted parent “has” a mental illness or any other identifiable issue.   They both suffer from the traumatic effects of chronic psychological manipulation and abuse by the narcissistic (borderline) parent.  In addition to the suppressed attachment and the inverted hierarchy where the child believes that he or she is above the targeted parent, other symptoms of trauma may appear as depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, withdrawal, ADHD type concentration problems and lack of communication skills. 

As long as the court continues to allow parents with NBPD to psychologically control their children and traumatize the targeted parents, nothing will change until the children “awaken” once they are old enough to get out from under the control of the narcissistic (borderline) parent on their own. 

Sadly, family courts continue to order therapy while the manipulating parent still has unsupervised placement.   Children cannot recover their authentic selves or their secure attachment to the targeted parent while they are still accountable to the controlling parent.  Therefore, not only will therapy be unsuccessful and a waste of time and money, it actually further entrenches the psychopathology.  As Dr. Childress so eloquently puts it, the child becomes the psychological battlefield between the therapist’s goal, which is to restore the relationship between the child and the targeted parent and the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s goal, which is to keep the relationship disrupted.

In summary, ordering therapy while the child is still enmeshed with the abusive parent further harms the child in 3 ways.

1. Therapy is a distraction from the real problem, which is the child’s exposure to the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s psychological abuse.  This abuse will continue to negatively impact the child’s developmental tasks.

2. The narcissistic (borderline) parent will use the child to sabotage therapy while giving the child another audience to project the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s delusions about the targeted parent.

3. The narcissistic (borderline) parent will escalate his or her control over the child as the child’s mind becomes the psychological “battleground” between the therapist’s treatment goal of “reunification” and the abuser’s goal to continue to use the child to devalue and discard the targeted parent.




What Courts Don't Know That They Don't Know

About High Conflict Divorce/Custody

High conflict family court (both divorce, and post judgment placement and custody) can be differentiated from other cases because of the extreme lack of trust between parties, high levels of anger, allegations of abuse or poor parenting, and protracted litigation.  In addition, one parent will engage in sabotaging the other parent–child relationship, and thus these cases may sometimes be called “parental alienation.”  

The relationships within the family are marked by fear, projection of blame, deceit, betrayal and the refusal to cooperate or communicate.   These dynamics existed within the family long before they ever entered into family court.  High conflict families develop dysfunctional coping mechanisms over time, because at least one parent has a cluster of relationally destructive personality disordered traits.

 “While there are other personality disorders, BPD (borderline personality disorder) and NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) are the most common in high-conflict divorces (definitions added ).  And, “… high-conflict divorces have increased over the past decade, a trend that may be tied to the growing number of people with BPD and NPD” (Eddy, Kreger, 2014 ).

High conflict cases jam up family court dockets because they are opened, but never closed.   Family courts do not have the relevant, scientific information to be able to resolve these cases safely and efficiently.  

The key to solving high conflict cases is recognizing and intervening in the traumatic and dysfunctional relational dynamics driven by one parent who has narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder (NBPD).  This parent affects every step in the legal process by distorting the court’s perceptions of the family, the other parent, and the children.

Research documents that family courts and the mental health professionals have strongly held mistaken assumption about families in high conflict cases. These misconceptions compromise the accuracy and integrity of their practice, decisions, and judgments (Warshak, 2015).

The following are 5mistaken assumptions that are present in nearly all high conflict family courtrooms.

1.  Families in high conflict court are normal. (wow- not by a long shot)

85% of divorcing parents work out a change in home structure without harming the children.  Healthy, normal parents do this without family court.  In fact, healthy, normal parents with empathy would never consider going to family court and putting the fate and future of their children into the hands of a perfect stranger.   The rest of us (15%) are jamming into family courts across the country.  If our families were normal we wouldn’t be in family court.  We put the "D" in dysfunctional.  One parent has a serious mental illness and our children and us have been traumatized/abused for years by that parent.  Of course we are going to be high conflict.

2. Both parents contribute to the conflict.

The controlling parent has one of the most dangerous mental illnesses and uses toxic coercion and exploitation to traumatize the rest of the family.  While he or she may pretend (false persona) to be calm, rational, and caring; it is an act to fool the court and mental health professionals.  Narcissistic (borderline) parents (NBPD) do not enter family court to resolve ANYTHING, but to escalate conflict aimed at blaming and punishing the already traumatized targeted parent for the divorce.  Most targeted parents have complex PTSD from living with a partner who has NBPD.  In family court, targeted parents spend most of their time trying to defend themselves against being constantly attacked.

3. The parent with NBPD has a healthy relationship with the child.

As soon as the couple separated and the disturbed parent could isolate the child from the other parent, the NBPD parent began pressuring the child into the middle of the conflict.  Parents with NBPD coerce their children to align with them against the other parent.  They begin to treat the child as a confident and “buddy,” which raises the child’s status in the family hierarchy to that of the abuser and above that of the other parent.   Teenagers are especially vulnerable to conforming to this cross-generational coalition. Cross-generational coalitions are a profound breach in generational boundaries and a well documented form of pathology NOT a healthy bond!

4. Children, especially adolescents are credible witnesses and should have a voice in placement.

In high conflict family court, the child’s viewpoint never reflects a mature judgment, independent of the narcissistic (borderline) parent’s manipulation and pressure. 

Scientific research in adolescent development and neuro-psychology has found that adolescence is stage of tremendous physical, cognitive, and emotional development.   This means that adolescence is also the time when children are the most vulnerable to the emotional pressures and exploitation from their parent with narcissistic (borderline) personality disorder (NBPD).   Unfortunately, children trapped with the parent who has NBPD do not have the emotional, cognitive, or even physical capacity to contradict and/or defy a parent who holds all the power over their lives.

While professionals may believe that children act mature and are honest, objective, and authentic, children in high conflict court will only express what the controlling narcissistic (borderline) parent demands that they say and do.

5. Removing a child from placement with a narcissistic (borderline) parent would be traumatizing.

There are two mistaken assumptions here.  The first is that family court is trauma informed or at least they know what trauma is.   My experience is that family court is unaware of the profound impact of trauma on the family.  The second assumption is that a child will be traumatized if they are separated from the narcissistic (borderline) parent. 

The most comprehensive way to measure childhood trauma is through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) scores.  Our children experience 7+ out of the 10abusive and neglectful environments identified by the landmark ACE Study in the mid 1990's.   There is very little room left in our children's lives for any more trauma.  The only ACEs that are missing are physical abuse and neglect and sexual abuse.  Our children are some of the most traumatized children in America and need immediate intervention.  Removing them from their mentally ill parent and placing them with the targeted parent will reduce their ACE Score by 75% within a few weeks.






My daughter recently graduated from college in psychology.  She has been accepted into the top trauma focused graduate programs in the country.  She has been through hell growing up in a home with a narcissistic father. 

When she was in 8th grade, she came to me and told me that this song reminded her of me. 

It has been my fight song ever since.




Who's On First

Hey there sports fans.  This is Kay Johnson with an update from the major leagues.

The easiest way for me to keep you posted on any developments is just for me to share some of the documents and emails that go back and forth between Mary, Eve and me. 

Mary’s new lawyer is doing his job.  He calls Mary to make sure that she is doing what she is suppose to do, while he is keeping the ball rolling.  From a spectators viewpoint, I have lost track of the game plan.   Most of the time, I don't even understand the game plan that family lawyers follow because it so often diverges from reality.   Anyway, the following is an email I sent to Mary to get some clarification about "Who's On First?"

To: Mary

First, the GAL needs to be replaced.  If this is done quickly, you can save yourself the trouble of having to subpoena him for the psychological evaluations and parenting assessments.  You don’t need to prove that the GAL is not doing his job, you just need to send a letter to the Judge requesting a new one.  Still, I’d love to help you write the letter because there is so much damning evidence such as:

1. The GAL has withheld the psych report and parenting assessments since last November.

Your new lawyer should have gotten a copy by now, but I’d wager that he hasn’t.    I think the GAL doesn’t want anyone to see it because he placed your son with his father before getting the results and the recommendations. 

Besides the fact that the psychological evaluation probably identifies domestic abuse and physical and psychological (pathological) alienation, I know that it includes some strong recommendations for the court to IMMEDIATELY STOP your husband and get help for you and your son.   It’s almost June and he STILL hasn’t done anything.

2. The GAL recommended taking away all of your contact with your son without due process; even after your parenting assessments all came back so good.  If we had the psych evaluation we would also have evidence of your husband's pathogenic or dysfunctional parenting.

3. The transcription from your old lawyer’s voice mail indicates that the GAL was unhappy with me (or Eve) for hounding him for the psych evaluations and that now “it might not go well for you.”   

4. The GAL hasn’t assessed for domestic abuse, doesn’t understand how damaging narcissistic (borderline) parents are, can’t recognize trauma, has been discriminating against you and biased for your husband, empowered your son to think that he gets to decide where to live; even though the Judge said that “no 16 year old boy is going to be calling the shots", and he thinks that the cross-generational coalition against you is a “good enough” relationship.

5. The GAL has not acted in the best interest of your son—ever!  Every thing he has done is contrary to what the established child development sciences tells us needs to be done.   If he would just follow the state laws that mandate him to use the factors for placement, it would have come out right.  But, I’ve not seen a GAL in WI use them yet.

The list goes on and on---this guy has driven this high conflict case and seriously hurt you and your son in the process.   He will always be a problem.  Your son deserves balanced, objective advocacy from the GAL.

Second, in case I didn’t make it clear enough above; we need the psych report.

We need it so that we can write the interrogatory questions for the deposition and the final hearing.  S pecific, targeted questions are vital to prove how much damage your husband is doing to his son and you AND why he will not stop.

Third, brings us to therapy.  OMG.

There are very few therapists who are going to have a third of what they need to know to bring closure to this case and resolution for the family or give you more placement.  But even more fundamental is that there doesn't seem to be very clear directives concerning WHO is supposed to be in therapy OR WHY!


Who is supposed to be going to therapy?

Your son?

Any therapy for your son will be harmful if he does not have protective separation from his father.  In addition, you should be taking him to and from therapy, because your husband will sabotage any progress the therapist might make.  As Dr. Childress says, therapy without protective separation turns your son into a “psychological battleground” between the therapist’s outcomes and what the abuser wants. 

Your husband?   

Well, this goes without saying, because of his abusive parenting (which is probably described in the psych evaluation).  Narcissistic (borderline) patients are few and far between and very difficult to treat.  There have so many problems;  paranoid and persecutory delusions,  anger management,  serious mental illness called Narcissistic Personality Disorder, child psychological maltreatment, and how he encourages your son to emotionally abuse you—need I go on?

You and your husband?

I read the recommendation "to co-parent" somewhere.  Really? Umm —NPD parents cannot co-parent, end of story.  They may be able to parallel parent (maybe), but primary placement of your son must still be with you while he is in treatment.


Having a trauma informed therapist to help you process the prolonged, repeated psychological trauma is essential for your recovery, but this won’t do anything to move your case along.

When you find out, let me know! 













Another Mother's Day

This will be the 8th mother's day that I don't get to have any time with my son. For the past three years, it has been his choice, not his fathers.  If you’re like me, Mother’s Day is the hardest day of the year.   Even after all this time, I keep thinking that there is something that I can say or something that I can do that will touch his heart again and release his enduring attachment. But his recovery must come from the inside just like mine. 

I can’t change what has happened,

I can’t change him or this day.

 I can only change how I respond to the day. 


Today I stand up and take responsibility to enjoy this day, like every other.

 It’s up to me.

I have gone through enough pain, I don’t have to add this day to my trauma.


I sent my son a text message and a card with the following sentiments: 

“No matter what, no matter why;

I will always love you as much as I did the first moment that I felt your life in me—

it is beyond words.”


Happy Mother's Day To Me and To You!