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Mental health issues and shared parenting after divorce

| Oct 2, 2020 | Divorce |

Divorce is not easy. Divorcing with children is even more challenging for California parents. Devising a parenting plan between two parents that amicably parted ways can still have its difficulties; thus, a high-conflict divorce is likely to present many more obstacles when arriving at a parenting plan that works for both parties. What can further challenge the matter is when one parent is struggling with a mental health issue such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD.

What is NPD?

NPD is characterized by two main traits. This includes and inflated sense of self-importance and the lack of empathy. Whether a parent has been formally diagnosed with NPD or is exhibiting typical behaviors of a person with NPD, it is important to consider how this personality disorder could impact a parenting relationship. In other words, if shared custody must occur, co-parenting may not be the best parenting plan to establish. When high-conflict personalities exist, it may be beneficial to consider parallel parenting.

Parallel parenting

To begin, co-parenting should be described so comparisons can be made. Co-parenting is when both parents mutually agree on a set parenting style for the children, causing little to no disruptions so they can provide the children with consistent expectation in each home. This can be an ideal situation for the children, especially when parents can work together and reach an agreement they can both live with.

Now, with a parent with NPD, co-parenting can be an impossible task because co-parenting can only occur when parents can openly and respectfully communicate with one another. When there is high conflict or a parent has NPD, this will be extremely unlikely to occur.

Parallel parenting entails that both parents will parent the children by the own rules with very little communication and no disruptions from either parent. This means that the parent that has the child gets to parent the children they see fit without any say from the other parent. However there are some pitfalls, as this is not a free for all. Each parent must parent the children to meet the best interests of the child, and if there are concerns, the other parent does have the right to take action to correct the parenting plan.

Family law matters, such as child custody, can be difficult to navigate. Not only is it challenging to work through this divorce issue initially during the divorce process, it is also a family law issue that may need to be revisited. Co-parenting with a parent that struggles with a mental health issue can present challenges, making it necessary to modify a current custody order.

Whether you are going through the divorce process or seek child custody modification, understanding your legal rights can help you better navigate the matter and arrive at a resolution that protects your rights and meets the best interests of the child.