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What lesser-known factor is driving family litigation and forcing couples to the courthouse to battle out some ugly dispute?   It is frequently the case where one or both of the parents is suffering from a personality disorder that makes peaceful resolution or mutual agreement virtually impossible; thus driving the couple to court for an ugly battle over a variety of issues surrounding their divorce.  We are constantly hearing from clients that their spouse exhibits certain behaviors or traits incessantly and to the extent that it has become virtually impossible to resolve their issues civilly.  Personality disorders effect one’s ability to evaluate situations logically, make rational decisions, or compromise with others.  What behavioral traits are indicative of a personality-disordered individual? And how do you know if this is the case?

Indeed, every relationship a with a personality-disordered individual is unique, but Out of the Fog has compiled a list of the top 100 behavioral traits commonly exhibited by individuals suffering from a personality disorder  Here are some of those behaviors that we see most often: verbal abuse, threats, shaming, lying, narcissism, neglect, name-calling, manipulation, intimidation, harassment, false accusations, physical abuse, emotional abuse, blackmail, bullying, blaming, avoidance, anger, and patronizing behavior. To view this list in its entirety, click HERE.

As you look through this list, you will probably think to yourself that these traits seem more “normal” than you’d imagined; more like traits of someone who is in a bad mood rather than someone who has a disorder.  But this is to be expected.  People suffering from personality disorders are “normal” people!  1 in 11 people meet the diagnostic criteria for having a personality disorder, which means there is an 18% chance that you or your partner may actually have a personality disorder of which one or both of you is completely unaware.

You should be aware of these behaviors in order to potentially recognize a personality disorder in yourself, spouse, family member, or friend.  Research and support groups are becoming more widely available as we continue to learn about and understand these personality disorders and their effect on our relationships.  It’s imperative that you are aware of the potential issues stemming from such relationships in order to take the necessary precautions as early as possible and hopefully militate the family’s pain and suffering.

We see this situation play out frequently in the family law setting, and the biggest loser is always a child stuck in the middle of warring parents.   Children are most often the victims in dysfunctional family situations because they are in a position of almost complete powerlessness.  Also, people suffering from a personality disorder often lack the will or ability to comprehend how their behaviors affect those around them, including their children.  Therefore, if you are dealing with a person who suffers from a personality disorder, your children must be your highest priority and you need to do whatever is in their best interest above all else.  This is also a sound legal strategy when dealing with family courts-“the children’s best interests” is what judges are looking for when they rule in child custody cases.

Based in Houston, Hiller Law has represented everyday people, athletes, executives, business owners, professionals and their spouses in divorces and family law matters since 1989.