Family Law: A Psychopaths Playground for Legally Sanctioned Abuse

As a young child, my parents always called me the “party police”.  I was the good girl who never liked to see people breaking the rules.  I never smoked, never drank underage, never did drugs, and never stole anything.  I grew up believing in justice and always believed that the courts and the police would protect me if and when I needed them.  That belief ended when I entered a custody war with Luc (my psychopath ex).

Going through a custody war with a sociopath will change the way you view the justice system.  In fact, most of my time in court with Luc felt more like an “injustice” system than anything that resembled justice.  The painful lessons I learned about how our system works rocked me to my core.

As a parent who is madly in love with her baby boy (which most parents are), my maternal instincts were telling me to fight this man with everything I had.  That being said, the very nature of our courts and what was happening throughout the trial felt like it was taking my stress to new levels.  As I became weaker emotionally, Luc became stronger.  He would file ridiculous motions to drive up my bills, sling as much mud at the walls of the court hoping that something would stick, and always find lawyers willing to represent him for free (or believing he would someday pay them back) and psychologists to make excuses for his immoral and criminal behavior.

Legal Abuse Syndrome and PTSD

Shortly after I fled Luc’s house with my son, my therapist diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  He then explained to me that he believed I had something called “Legal Abuse Syndrome”.  I had never heard this term so I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that Legal abuse refers to abuses associated with both civil and criminal legal action.  This abuse can originate from all parts of the legal system to include frivolous and vexatious litigants, abuses by law enforcement, incompetent, careless or corrupt attorneys and misconduct from the judiciary itself.  Legal abuse is a personal injury that develops in individuals assaulted by ethical violations, legal abuses, betrayals, and fraud. Abuse of power and authority and a profound lack of accountability in our courts have become rampant.

Sociopaths and legal abuse

From what I have learned through both my independent research and my experiences, sociopaths enjoy chaos.  They like to inflict pain on their victims in a way that appears sadistic.  These individuals seem to flourish in Family Courts because its legally sanctioned abuse.  I fled Luc’s house with my newborn son just weeks after baby boy was born.  Even though I filed for custody a few days after leaving, Luc waited three months before he responded to my motion for custody.  During those three months I didn’t hear anything from Luc about my son – not a text, a phone call, an email – nothing.  So why did he wait so long?  He wanted to wait until the day when he believed he would inflict as much pain as possible.  He officially filed a response to the motion on my birthday.

Luc came into my life and completely destroyed my belief in law and order.  One of the most painful lessons that I had to learn throughout my court battle with Luc was that psychopaths don’t play by normal rules.  This is true in their lives and it is certainly the case in the courtroom.  The most disturbing part about this was that Luc would get away with many of his lies because it would come down to my word against his.  He knew how to play the game and what he could get away with.  It was hard for me, at first, to anticipate his next move and prepare myself for the chaos.  Laws are not always enforced and true criminals are experts at figuring out which laws they can break and which are so hard to prove that no prosecutor will bother taking the case.  Psychopaths have a reckless disregard for the law and this allows them to play the system against us.

Overcoming Legal Abuse Syndrome and “The Death of Justice”

I still struggle with panic attacks when I think of all the things Luc has been able to do to me through the legal system and what he is capable of doing next.  Sometimes it feels like Luc has stabbed me right outside of a Police Station.  Instead of arresting Luc, the police rush to put me in handcuffs and arrest me for bleeding on Luc’s boots. (While apologizing to him and letting him know that they will make me buy him a new pair of shoes)

Justice as I knew it is dead and along with it went my youth and the naive version of myself.  The small piece of little girl cappuccino queen I have left inside of me is storming around and throwing a huge fit.  She is screaming and crying and stomping her feet.  Grown up cappuccino queen, however, is constantly thinking of ways to protect her son while trying to quiet the little girl inside who is throwing a royal tantrum over the death of justice.  

In my darkest moments of despair, however, I keep fighting.  I fight because I have to and because I have no other choice.  I am baby boy’s mom, I am his only healthy parent, and I love him.

In the brave words of Martin Luther King Jr.,

 “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”


  1. In 2008 a new law was passed, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act ADAAA. When it went into effect in 2009, it has given those suffering from PTSD and other invisible disabilities protection from many legal abuses. Now, there are federal mandates in place that, with assistance, the person with legal abuse syndrome can resist the coercive attacks from their opponents and often change the legal game.
    Dr. Karin Huffer
    Author – Overcoming the Devastation of Legal Abuse Syndrome (1995)
    and Unlocking Justice: The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act Protecting Persons with Invisible Disabilities.(2012)

    • cappuccinoqueen says:

      Thank you for your comment Dr. Huffer. I would love to learn about these protections that you are speaking about. Litigation appears to be Luc’s favorite sport. He was actually able to find a psychologist who completely ignored his prior psych evals, the custody evaluation, his criminal history, and the testimony of repeated abuse. This same psychologist suggested to the court that I should be tested for my fitness as a parent due to my diagnosis of PTSD (even though Luc caused this). She turned into his mouthpiece and completely disregarded her professional obligations. For some reason, Luc seems to keep finding people who will represent him pro bono (or maybe he is just not paying his attorney). When he tries to take me back to court (which I believe is inevitable), is there any assistance I can get then?

  2. Dear cappacuniqueen,

    Legal Abuse Syndrome is a very real diagnosis and is the term that was first coined by Dr. Karin Huffer. In fact, she has written two books on this problem that has become rampant in our courts across this country and many other countries.

    Having been diagnosed with PTSD, you are entitled to acommodations in our court system under the ADAAA so that you may participate equally. The same is true for anyone with invisible disabilities such as Autusm, PTSD, etc., as the same is true for anyone who is blind, cannot walk, hard of hearing, etc.

    Please research her website, for her book, Unlocking Justice.

  3. Again I totally understand the ‘chaos’ that is deliberately caused by the abuser – and their glee as they feed off of your trauma. Additionally I relate to the frustration of trying to make other people understand that they are dealing with a Sociapath who doesn’t play but normal rules – as they can appear to be perfectly normal, reasonable and plausible in public


    • Suzanne Barnes says:

      Tami, although 2 years have passed, I wanted to tell you about an attorney who represents people like us. Her name is Pat Barry, and she is based in California. If you live in CA great. If not, perhaps she can give you a referral. She gets it!

      Good luck!


  5. Aletheia says:

    Prevention. Isn’t this one of the many buzz words we hear regarding rape, std’s, birth defects, drug abuse etc.? How about if the justice system applied this concept to all of it’s participants including the lawyers, judges, social workers, psychologists and all the rest? If they kept people who have the brain functioning of a psycopath OUT of the positions of control/authority by screening them prior to placing them in these positions, and also screened the plaintiffs and defendants so that we could have a chance to weed out those who were actually seeking help/truth/justice vs. those who just want to “play” by creating chaos and strife? But what if we as a society were all simply made aware of what psychopathy truly looks like, educated about this, and then given the chance to prevent ourselves from unknowingly putting ourselves in positions of danger (which includes emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually) by avoiding these people when possible?

    We’d have to change our entire system wouldn’t we? We’d have to admit that we have given free reign to evil when we allowed the many and often differing/opposing therories presented to the court system by those in the psychology field, that were used in order to explain away the evil nature/character of psychopaths. This would trickle down into every system in society including the educational system, religious systems on and on. Why? Because we have built EVERYTHING on the lie that people are all the same. We now know this isn’t true via DNA testing, MRI imaging etc. but just look at the colossal mess we’d be in if we admitted this. We’d have to apologize to the many people like you who have been so thoroughly raped by the justice system and then go back and rescue the many others that have been destroyed. So we end up staying just where we are at and only a few like you survive.

    But I see how we got here and why we stay here. It’s a horribly vicious circle. We unwittingly get involved with these evil destroyers (psychopaths) then we fall in love with them and give birth to their children. Some of us become finacially dependant on them due to their disatorious ways of controlling us (and again, nobody even forewarned us or prevented us from doing this as we are forced to concede that all are the same) and then we’re stuck. Because this is genetic/chromosomal, we give birth to more of them and now it’s personal. We may have to choose to protect the child we love (even though this child is incapable of loving us or anyone else) over the welfare of those in society who are unaware of the truth of psychopathy. So we do the same thing that was done to us because otherwise we are against our own. We also want our children (who are psychopaths) to have a chance to get a job, get married etc. and if the majority of people knew the truth of psychopathy, our children would never have a chance AND we might be stuck with them (yet another psychopath in our lives) forever.

    So here we are, broken and bloody and all we can do is cry at the heartbreak of it all. We can love and pray for each other but to do what we SHOULD do (educate all and prevent them from getting involved with or giving birth to more psychopaths) may ultimately force us to split our heart.

    Thank you for your personal story. I’m always so grateful for others who see the truth of psychopathy. I’m also so sad and sorry for us because we rarely get out and when we do, we often find ourselves alone. So again, thank you.

  6. Wow, I felt like I had no where to turn and that no one would understand. My husband was deployed and was not notified of a court proceeding against him in which he was father by defaulted and wages garnished. When he returned home, we had to physically split up because we could not afford to live together and I had to move home with my parents. We experienced fees for lawyers, breaking lease, and taking out loans to pay for the bills and food we could not afford because of the garnishment (more than 25,000 in debt). He has experienced really weird, depressive and aggressive symptoms. . He’s been constantly in and out of court for the past 4 years and it is still going. His behavior is getting worse to the point where he’s accepted the possibility of garnishment of 50% of income, not motivated to improve his life because “they” will take it away. He also is paranoid and jumps when the door bell rings. The most troubling is he has trouble eating and sleeping and has night terrors and waking up sweating. My main question for legal abuse syndrome is how do we get rid of it? I am loosing my husband to this.

    • cappuccinoqueen says:

      Ali, I am sorry to hear about what you and your husband are going through. It sounds absolutely terrible. Sadly, as long as he is in this vicious court cycle the legal abuse will continue. That said, I would suggest that he see a therapist to help with this. It sounds like he is experiencing PTSD from all of this and he might need to speak to a professional to see how he can better emotionally handle all of the stress. I also suggest that he gets a good attorney and try and see if he can work out something a little more tolerable. If he was deployed and had no knowledge that the child even existed, this seems as though it isn’t right to have launched all this child support against him before he was even aware. As long as he is accepting his responsibility (assuming that the child is even his child and he is accepting responsibility), he should be able to work something a little more reasonably with the court. All that said, I don’t know the details of his case and I am not a lawyer. I do know, however, that going in and out of court is extremely emotionally taxing. Especially if the other party is determined to make you suffer vice coming to a reasonable resolution. I wish you and your husband all the luck. The best thing he can do is try and better himself despite the challenges and be there for his children in the best way he can.

  7. Stumbled on this while searching for “legal abuse.” I’m now realizing there is an actual term for my experience. There is no diagnosis, but I’m pretty sure the father of my child has borderline personality. He has all the symptoms and does the behaviors. The big pattern is that he reacts to any criticism, either real or imagined, by blowing up and turning it around on me. This sounds like what happened to you too. So whereas my legal declarations about domestic violence and his substance abuse were true, he responded by accusing me of being an abuser, a drug addict, a prostitute, and more. All false, but the court just throws up their hands and declares it all “he said, she said.”

    Do you still use a lawyer? Have you tried self-representing to save money? I’m thinking of firing my attorney because she let me sign a bad settlement under duress (my ex threatened to kill himself in court!) Maybe it’s better to get the lawyers out of the picture? Curious what you’ve tried. If you have a good lawyer, I’d like to know how you got them to help with the twisting and false allegations.

    • cappuccinoqueen says:

      JJ, As you have seen…I am no longer in litigation. That said, it was very expensive. I agree with firing your attorney if you don’t feel he/she had your child’s best interest. When looking for a new attorney, don’t be afraid to interview several and even go watch them in action on another case. It is worth making sure that this person is going to do the best job possible considering how much money you will spend. Regarding going pro se, sometimes I wish I had done that. I am not sure I would have done a worse job myself. That said, I would not suggest that without seeking out some help from a local law school or domestic violence group. It is really hard to do this and you don’t want to have any regrets.

  8. PS: I only read your about page after I commented. Oh my. I’m stunned and terribly sorry for your loss. Heart breaking.

    Congratulations on your pregnancy. : )

  9. I am representing a number of people going through this process and would love to develop a group of anybody willing to tell their stories. The Denver Post is interested in writing an expose, and I am hoping to do a presentation in Canada next year about this problem.

    • hallie rose says:

      I am american mom trapped in Australia with kids suffering profoundly due to psychopathic australian and horrific court system. I am tormented in isolation by years of fily court which has seen me stripped of right to go home stripped of family we have been homelesd and live in poverty. Because i got a new job to try to pick up peices ex took out nutty intervention order. I am sole support for kids. He is trying to make me humiliatef yet again and lose job. My life is hell and kids cant even see relatives in states

    • Cecilia A. Sparks says:

      I have been trying like crazy to find someone to advocate for victims of sociopaths. I, too, am a victim, as well as two women before me, and the one following, who doesn’t know it yet. Do you have any idea where we can find advocacies, because everywhere I turn, I”m told that legislature, etc. can’t help me.

      • cappuccinoqueen says:

        Reach out to domestic violence groups. Often times, victims of sociopaths and women who have lived through domestic violence have very similar experiences.

    • Colette says:

      Were you able to do this presentation? I am currently in bitter custody litigation with my abuser. The circumstances of which are exactly as the ones Im reading about on this page. Id be interested in hearing/reading about your experience.


    • Chris wallman says:

      Angie- did the Denver post ever publish this story? After draining all my resources, and gaining some small victories over the abuses I have endured (I am a male, btw), I see my children enough to survive. I am suffering significantly, and having a hard time resuming a successful 6-figure career taken from me by false allegations and harassment. Anyway, long story short, I am having to set out Pro-se into the appeals process on some issues, and would love any more published information on legal abuse, victims resources, and help for the PTSD that is ruining my life!

    • Katy Johnson says:

      Angie, are you an attorney? I would very much like to speak with you..

  10. OSCARHUGO says:

    I want all to know that I am a loving Father who’s Ex-Spouse is a Narcissist with Paranoid Personality Disorder. Beside the shear sadistic revenge of dragging me through the Courts, she uses Child Custody as duress to retain property that is not hers.
    Often the Malicious Ex uses an attack on Custody to defame and then get an advantage over the Property settlements.
    I believe the Legal Abuse is Domestic Violences, and based on the Nadkarni Decision, I hope to get the Appeals Court to recognized this.
    Thanks for this website, and for not making it a gender war. There are abused Spouses and loving Parents of both sexes that are suffering from legal abuse. We need to join together to make Legal Abuse designated as Domestic Violence.

    • cappuccinoqueen says:

      Oscarhugo, you are very right – abuse can happen to either gender. What is happening in our family court is bad for families – period. Hang in there man. Legal abuse is traumatizing and can send anyone into depression. Try and stay as healthy as possible for your kids.

  11. Cecilia A. Sparks says:

    What do you do if a decision comes back that you feel is unfair because the sociopath continuously lied in court? I feel like I’d rather go to jail than pay that monster one more dime from my menial savings.

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