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Can personality disorders affect child custody in divorce?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Custody Cases, Family Law

Personality disorders play a big part in the dissolution of marriage in Maryland and elsewhere. These disorders often come to the forefront after divorce when children resist or refuse to see one parent because of excessively negative comments against the other adult.

How personality disorders affect parental alienation

Personality disorders exhibit a long-term pattern of interpersonal behavior that remains unchanged. Such behavior impacts children and the spouse in the marriage, ultimately leading to divorce. A growing body of research has indicated that some personality disorders can significantly affect how some personality disorders can adversely affect interpersonal relationships.

Researchers divide personality disorders into three clusters labeled A, B and C. Cluster B disorders appear to have the most significant effects on parent-child relationships. These include narcissistic, borderline, histrionic and antisocial personalities because these types of people are dramatic, emotional and erratic. People with these disorders tend to be domineering, vindictive and intrusive along with having an inability to care about others’ needs. Parents who have traits associated with Cluster B personality disorders may still pose a mental health risk to children as young as four or five years old.

Individuals with Cluster B personality disorders often display extreme negativity toward the other parent. Additionally, people with these orders don’t consider their behavior to be problematic, making it difficult to work out parenting arrangements in a divorce.

Dealing with a problematic parent after divorce

After divorce, your children may not want to associate with their other parent if that person keeps displaying some of the traits described above. This situation can be especially problematic if the other parent’s family backs up their claims against you. Questions about child custody and parenting time can come into play.

Modifying child custody is possible, but it can be difficult. Maryland does not have set standards for child custody, but overall the children’s best interests determine custody, visitation, etc. If your child feels uncomfortable being with the other parent, you may be able to modify your divorce decree to reduce or even eliminate visitation time if you can prove that mental or physical harm has occurred.