Thanks! I was wondering if the folks on this website can share some ideas of what actually worked for them in court.
The main issue I have is that BPD wife is so passionate and convincing about her lies that sometime I even catch myself wondering maybe she is really right, then I shake of the illusion and can't believe I the one suffering her lies contemplating false and absurd allegations.. not sure if you had these experiences. Sooo if that's her affect on me, the victim, how can I combat her lies to other people.. does this make any sense..
I am glad you are here, but I am sorry for your situation. I don't have anything substantial to add here, as I think hhaw and atticus covered it pretty well, but I wanted to throw in my 2 cents to say that I STILL feel this way about my NPDxh, after separating a year ago, so you're not alone.
I will say, get the lay of the land in terms of your attorney and court. You can't convince anyone of your wife's behavior, as hhaw said, but, that said, there are people whose opinions count more than others. Family, friends, etc. - these people are not as important in the long run as your judge, and your child custody evaluator, or GAL, if you have one. Put your energy there, if it goes anywhere, and don't waste it on other people. ... And as far as the judge, GAL, or court officers go, you don't want to put your energy into them, so much as you want to put it into your attorney, and make sure your attorney understands your interests, understands what is going on, and make sure you understand and are on board with whatever legal strategy he/she wants to do on your behalf.
My attorney had the highest retainer of any lawyer I met with. That doesn't necessarily mean squat, but in my case, the reason I paid it, is because I felt he had an incredibly perceptive grasp on the psychological nuances of my NPDxh -- he understood when my ex was bullying, where others did not; he was incredibly knowledgeable about the law; he had many, many years of experience.
BUT, what made my attorney priceless was that he was a longtime lawyer in the jurisdiction where my divorce would play out. He was well-known, well-respected, and well-liked. The court system is like any workplace -- people know each other, people socialize outside of work, people know and respond to workplace gossip. Egos are involved, politics, both grownup and playground, are involved.
So I counted on him to be my PR, knowing that I was in an uphill battle with the NPD's charisma and lies, and the fact that he was so good at appearing to be such a loving, involved father. The court can be about impressions and personality as much as any place. My husband appears handsome, charming, confident. He is personable. I am a confident, assertive no-nonsense, woman. This can play well, or not so well, depending on my audience. So, think of court like the longest job interview of your life. You want to make a good impression at all times.
One thing that I found invaluable in my lawyer and that actually went a long way toward combatting the problem you mentioned above, of how the PD sounds so BELIEVABLE, is that my lawyer was the perfect foil for that. ... Where I saw bullying, intimidation and threats, others saw a browbeaten husband and father just trying to do right by his kids, poor guy. My lawyer saw through that RIGHT AWAY, with no prompting, without me even needing to "decode" anything for him and explain it. If you can get those people in your life, whether it's your lawyer, or friends or family, they are worth gold.
Also, this is an incredibly trying, stressful and emotional process, both being in a relationship with a PD, and getting out of it, especially with kids and legal issues involved. Do the things outlined here -- document, educate yourself, record if you can, keep your relationship with your kids paramount -- but setbacks WILL occur. When they do, try not to let it get you down, look at the big picture, and keep plowing forward, and try to be at peace knowing you are doing the best you can, and that's all you can do.
Another helpful thing to have is a "narrative" -- a consistent story that you stick to that demonstrates your calm, consistent and reasonable parenting, and your stbx's history of harmful behavior. Don't be all over the map with accusations left and right -- have an overall outline of your story -- "We met, she started to exhibit x, y, z behavior, I got more and more concerned, and here we are ..." Something like that. The more together, calm, and reasonable you sound, the more your wife's behavior will show in contrast to yours.
You may hear that it's an uphill battle for dads in court. Don't get discouraged. My NPDxh almost won custody of our son, largely because his appearance and charisma were so convincing, not because any facts backed him up. I had video and audio of threatening/intimidating behavior, I had facts and receipts backing up my almost exclusive parenting of DS, and I had witnesses willing to come forward.
The GAL and I had a personality clash and she took my husband's side of things almost right away. This wasn't based on facts or evidence, it was based on pure likability. No one checked my facts and receipts -- and no one checked the ex's either, to see that he was lying about all of them. And my witnesses dropped out, like hhaw said people do.
Courts care about evidence and facts, not emotions and opinions.
Good luck and hang in there.