Family Court’s Judge’s over matched with Socio/Con Man

Since the last round of my “Custody War” with Luc (my ex psychopath), I have thought a lot about the flaws in our legal system.  I run the events of the trials (“battles”) over and over in my head. I still can’t understand how such a disordered man like my ex can be allowed to have unsupervised access to a child.  I know it is not healthy to think about it so much, but I can’t help it when the thoughts creep into my head.  I keep trying to put my finger on why this process left me so incredibly disturbed.

Even after hearing disturbing testimony from several of Luc’s previous victims (who graciously agreed to testify against Luc during my Custody War), I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was looking at an empty human-like shell that slightly resembled the man I thought I loved.

The Analogy

During the opening and closing statements of my Custody War with Luc, my attorney described Luc as “The Man Who Never Was”.  As I am a child of the 80’s, I didn’t understand the reference my lawyer was making at first.  He explained to me that he had taken this phrase from the title of a 1956 film that was based on World War II.  In summary, the film was about “Operation Mincemeat”, which was a 1943 British Intelligence plan to deceive the Axis powers into thinking Operation Husky, the Allied Invasion of Sicily, would take place elsewhere.

(Stick with me here, I promise that this has relevance for even those non-history buffs.)

As part of this attempt to deceive the Axis powers, the operation involved dressing up a human cadaver and creating a fictitious story around a man who didn’t really exist.  This whole thing was an attempt to manipulate the opposition.  Unfortunately for me (and my son), I believe this analogy may have gone completely over the judge’s head. In the past few weeks, however, I have thought more and more about this analogy and I think it may resonate with many who have been in similar situations with psychopaths.


The Plot:

Though Luc is most certainly “the evil” in this scenario, his deception against me was like his very own version of “Operation Mincemeat”.  His objective was money.  He had run through his previous victim and needed a new income source.  He would find his target, listen to her hopes and dreams, and create the story for his “cadaver” based on her version of Prince Charming.

My Conclusions:

Family Court can be incredibly intrusive.  Many people (who aren’t dealing with psychopath ex’s) likely decide to settle out of court so that they can save themselves the expense and the relentless exposure of their personal lives.  That being said, this “exposure” only really applies if you are playing by the rules.  For example, I provided the court copies of my taxes, bank statements, pay stubs, property information, and a complete history of my education and family background.

Luc, on the other hand, remained “The Man who Never Was” throughout the entire trial.  His lies seemed to evolve and morph as time went on to further prove that not only was he “The Man who Never Was” to the court, I wasn’t even sure if HE knew who he was by the end.  He presented clearly fake tax statement and pay stubs for a job he has never held.  The court, however, accepted these documents as truth and never questioned how a man got to be middle aged without ever having a legitimate job.

The reality of Family Court is ugly.  It takes a special person to be able to see through the smoke and clouds that psychopaths create in the courtroom.  From what I have seen, most judges do not appear equipped (nor do they care enough) to filter through the lies and deceit in order to protect these innocent children.  Why then do we waste the time and money to go through the court system if these psychopaths are not going to be held to the law and forced to present proven and factual information?

A Media Example:

Just as I was pondering the above analogy, one of my friends posted the following link to her Facebook site.

Two American Kids Shipped to France in One of the Worst Custody Decisions. Ever.

While the term “psychopath” was never used in this article, the point that stuck out for me was how Actress Kelly Rutherford explained that she STILL did not know who her ex husband was.  After his U.S. visa was revoked, a judge ordered Kelly Rutherford’s children (American citizens who had been born and raised in the US) to live in France with her ex because he was unable to travel to the US to see them.

Kelly Rutherford likely had the best lawyer money could buy and it didn’t do a bit of good because the lawyer in her case refused to ask the obvious question – “Who ARE you Sir?  And why was your U.S. Visa revoked?”  The State Department refuses to issue this man a new visa.  His lawyer claims that its Rutherford’s fault his visa was revoked.  Even if this were possible, which it’s not because a private citizen can’t cause the US Government to deny someone entry, it doesn’t explain away the fact that this man was not required to present to the court how he made his money and who he really was.

Family Courts in America are in crisis.


Diagnosis of Sociopathy

The DSM IV Diagnosis of Anti Social Disorder

Where it lists what is classified as being a Sociopath (I got this off the Out of the Fog website)

DSM-IV-TR Criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder (Sociopathy)

Antisocial Personality Disorder (AsPD) is listed in the DSM-IV-TR as a Cluster B (dramatic, emotional, or erratic) Personality Disorder:

A pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others occurring since age 15, as indicated by THREE (or more) of the following:

1.Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest.
2.Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
3.Impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
4.Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
5.Reckless disregard for safety of self or others
6.Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain steady work or honor financial obligations
7.Lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

The manual lists the following additional necessary criteria:

  • The individual is at least 18 years of age.
  • There is evidence of conduct disorder with onset before age 15 years.
  • The occurrence of antisocial behavior is not exclusively during the course of schizophrenia or a manic episode.


Excerpt from Dr.Liane Leedom about Psychopaths and the Courts who writes for Love

As we work to sort out fact from fiction and to understand the motives and person of evil people it  is important to acknowledge that psychopathy is a psychiatric disorder that is present in its full form in about one percent of adults; thus psychopathic individuals may be among our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members. These individuals are likeable, charming, and skilled in impression management and deception. Although incapable of real love and without conscience, they often present as caring and moral people. Because psychopaths do not love others and lack an internal moral compass, they are unfit to be parents. Despite the existence of psychopathy and the fact that this disorder is relatively common in adults who are parents, the family courts are ill equipped to deal with psychopathic parents.

Over the last 6 years, I have worked to document and understand the impact of parental psychopathy on children and partners involved in family court custody disputes. In  divorce and custody dispute I see many familiar themes that often arise in these cases. Because of space constraints here are just four:

  1. There is a multitude of neighbors and friends that attest to the putative psychopath being a “nice person,” “caring neighbor,” “great guy”…etc. These people cannot reconcile the disparity between the person they think they know and the deeds that person is alleged to have committed.
  2. Although there is often a history of violent, abusive or fraudulent behavior on the part of the psychopath, there is a general failure to connect this behavior to the presence of the personality disorder. Even respected skilled professionals fail to identify the disorder and appreciate its impact on the former partner and the child.
  3. Psychopathic individuals often lie under oath in court and submit affidavits that contain false information. Although I have seen many cases of this, perjury in a family court context, even if proven, is not prosecuted. Instead, allegations imputing the moral character of the other parent remain part of the record and although false, take on a life of their own.
  4.  Although psychopaths expend a great deal of energy and resources fighting for custody and visitation they always continue to engage in actions that prove they are not concerned with the well-being of the child.

Most custody cases involving psychopathic parents do not end with the literal murder of the other parent. However, the other parent is always victimized emotionally and financially, and their character is always assassinated. The children are always also victimized and left scarred for life, sometimes developing psychopathy themselves. It is my hope that this is a “teachable moment” for our family court system. The protocols that work well in the usual divorce/custody situation are woefully inadequate when one of the parties is a psychopath.