Two Decades Of Florida Family Law Experience

The challenges of co-parenting with a narcissist

On Behalf of | Jul 27, 2022 | Child Custody

You may have done everything you can to get through your Florida divorce with a minimal amount of impact on your children, but now you are facing the potential of co-parenting with your former spouse. Most divorced couples are able to develop a new co-parenting relationship that works effectively even if it is at times tense, unpleasant or reluctant. However, when a narcissist is involved, the picture changes dramatically. If you are facing shared custody with a narcissist, true co-parenting may never be possible.

When narcissists share child custody

Florida has a strong preference for joint or shared child custody and parenting time. Even if the children live primarily with one parent, the other may share joint legal custody, giving them a say in decisions about the child’s education, health care and upbringing.

Because narcissists seek complete control of any situation in order to benefit themselves, the give-and-take of a co-parenting relationship can be almost impossible. Instead of a warm one, your goal may be a form of parallel parenting in which custody is shared according to clear and firm boundaries.

Strong boundaries can protect parents

In any high conflict divorce, co-parenting does not have to mean friendship. Parents may keep their communication strictly child-centered. However, a narcissist may repeatedly escalate disagreements into major battles, create arguments and problems, and exaggerate issues, or repeatedly call or interfere with the other parent’s time with the child. They may risk the child’s mental health by attempting to use them as a go-between or a spy on the other parent or by alienating them from the other parent.

A strict custody plan and parenting schedule may not solve these problems entirely but it can help to ameliorate them. You might want to try and negotiate a settlement that includes strict guidelines about the number of phone calls allowed or clauses that require that neither parent disparage the other to the child. The more complete and comprehensive the parenting plan, the fewer opportunities a narcissist will have to undermine the parent-child bond.