As a Los Angeles divorce attorney whose practice emphasizes Borderline Personality Disorder, I am frequently asked why is identifying Borderline Personality Disorder so important in divorce and custody cases? Inevitably, this question is posed by someone unfamiliar with Borderlines for if they had ever been in an interpersonal relationship with a Borderline, they would have no need to ask the question. This is not an easy question to answer for the uninitiated within the limits of a blog.
In a word, courts do not care if a parent is afflicted with an otherwise debilitating physical, mental, emotional or psychological condition as long as the condition does not adversely affect that parent’s ability to parent. For example, some alcoholics do not drink when they are around their children. In my experience, this self-control is exitsts in many psychological and emotional conditions. Unfortunately, this is not true of most Borderlines for reasons too involved to get into here.
Keeping in mind I see only divorcing couples, in my experience moderately-severe to servere Borderline parents are, essentially, “anti-parents”. Their parenting destroys the children they love. Borderlines are ofterntimes models of poor parenting and the results manifest in their children. (Note: I do not mean to include in this damning statement Borderline parents to are actively and successfully seeking professional help to overcome negative parenting patterns and who, therefore, are most likely not divorcing.) Research shows that Borderlines beget Borderline children or children with Attention Deficit Disorder. The reasons for this are debatable, but the statistics bear witness to the reality of the effect.
In sum, Borderlines are the antithesis of the “reasonably adequate parent”, which is the minimum legal standard most states family law courts apply in awarding custody.
Anyone who has ever tried to co-parent with a Borderline knows the futility and danger of typical Borderline behavior. The most casual, objectiive, constructive criticism about the Borderline’s parenting skills are met with a “Borderline flare-up” complete with severe punishments of anyone who questions She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. The Borderline simply cannot abide the truth because it conflicts with her deep-seated need to experience herself as perfect. This deep need to maintain her internal sense of perfection combines with the Borderlines “I-It” world view to form an impenetrable wall to dealing with reality. The children, who are mere objects to the Borderline, suffer the most because the Borderline systematically subjugates the children’s wills to her own. From the Borderlines point of view, her will is the only will the children or her spouse needs.
I recently came across a video clip in which a woman who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, a man who was in a long-term marriage with a Borderline, and Randi Kreiger, who wrote “Walking On Eggshells” were interviewed on the program “Lifestyle Magazine“. If you are in the Borderline universe–or suspect you are, I highly recommend you view this show.
For these and other reasons, it is crucial to identify whether a party to a divorce is Borderline. I look forward to the day when courts respond to legitimate allegations that one party suffers from Borderline Personality disorder in the same way the courts currently respond to domestic violence.
If the non-Borderline parent and the court system are to act in concert to prevent the Borderline parent from psychologically and emotionally maiming his/her children, the courts must set up a protocol by which the “alleged” Borderline parent is fast-tracked into a psychological/custody evaluation with a psychotherapist who specializes in Borderline Personality Disorder. Terrible results are typical when a court inappropriately appoints a psychological/custody evaluator who does not specialize in Borderline Personality Disorder.
The costs to society of raising more Borderlines are simply too great to ignore and, thus, early intervention (i.e., preferably when the child is in infancy!) is crucial.