Child custody battles are incredibly difficult times for parents going through divorce. When one parent has borderline personality disorder (BPD), the situation is even more strenuous and unpredictable.
If your circumstances involve a spouse with borderline personality disorder, divorce, and child custody, the following information can help you prepare for what to expect.
What is BPD?
Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that often leads to difficulty managing emotional responses and maintaining stable relationships. It can cause problems with self-image and create an intense fear of abandonment.
These symptoms are often worse when someone with BPD is going through a stressful life event. Due to the stress of divorce and a child custody battle, your spouse with BPD may have difficulty executing good judgment and behaving rationally.
BPD is a serious medical condition, and it’s important not to make assumptions about your spouse’s mental health. If you think your spouse may have BPD, understand that they will need to be diagnosed by a medical professional. After your spouse has been diagnosed with BPD, these next steps can help.
First Steps to Take if You’re Considering Divorce or Separation
- Learn about BPD. Read and understand as much as you can so that you are fully informed about your spouse’s condition.
- Document everything. Keeping track of your interactions with your ex can help establish both evidence of their mental health disorder and your integrity.
- Find a therapist who can help. This situation is difficult and will likely remain difficult even when your divorce is finalized. If you haven’t already, seek counseling from a therapist. Therapists can help document your fears and concerns, which can help to provide evidence if the need for it arises.
- Find an attorney who has experience with situations like yours. An attorney who has worked on BPD divorce and child custody cases will know what problems may arise and how to best support you.
- Tell your attorney about your spouse’s condition immediately. Let your lawyer know about any prior suicide attempts or hospitalizations. In addition, inform them about problems with former partners or other serious situations brought on by their mental health condition.
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How to Interact with Your Ex Who Has BPD
TRY TO INTERACT WITH YOUR SPOUSE IN PUBLIC PLACES
While the situation is very personal, it’s important not to isolate yourself.
If possible, have one or more people present during your conversations with your spouse. They can be a witness to what happened and may help keep your spouse’s emotions in check.
If you are still living with your spouse, be very careful about what you say to them.
A person with BPD can have difficulty controlling their emotional reactions. While your spouse should be held accountable for their actions, you need to prioritize what is best for you and your children.
Responding to their attack with an outburst of your own will not help diffuse the situation. If your spouse starts behaving inappropriately, stay calm and try to keep your children out of it.
If your spouse is behaving erratically, document what happened as soon as you can.
Consider asking the court for permission to get counseling for your children if your spouse keeps involving them.
BE AWARE THEY MAY MAKE YOU THE BAD GUY
A person with BPD may become desperate and want to destroy your reputation or your relationship with your children.
To avoid this, document your communications and actions. Additionally, let anyone who may be in contact with them know that they should question what your spouse tells them. If your spouse is spreading lies about you, focus on spreading the truth instead of tearing them down in the process.
BPD, Divorce, and Child Custody
If your ex has BPD, you should know about these additional factors as you start the divorce and child custody process.
YOU PROBABLY WON’T REACH A SETTLEMENT
A settlement can be a good option for a lot of people going through divorce, but it’s not a good option when one parent may not respond to or comply with reasonable boundaries.
When a parent with BPD is involved, settlement may not be possible. Sometimes a parent with BPD will not even consider settling.
LITIGATION MAY BE THE BEST OPTION
As always, you need to prioritize what’s best for you and your children. Getting what’s best for them may involve taking your case to court. Be ready for a battle, and remember that you’re fighting for your child’s best interests.