Facebook Q&A Live with Family Law Attorney, Stephen Vertucci and Dr. Karyl McBride

This online Facebook event was held on Saturday, November 18, 2023

Q&A Session with Dr. Karyl McBride and
Family Law Attorney, Stephen Vertucci.

Stephen Vertucci has been practicing in the family law area for over 20 years. His office is in Fort Collins, Colorado and his law firm has a team of three experienced attorneys, a team of paralegals, and staff. They exclusively focus on family law cases. Their website is www.nocodivorcelaw.com and the phone number is 970-900-1800. The firm's focus is on Larimer and Weld County cases, but they can refer someone to a trusted referral source if their case is outside of the Larimer/Weld County area.

Dr. Karyl McBride is a licensed marriage and family therapist, author, speaker, therapist, consultant. Dr. McBride's books are titled: Will The Drama Ever End? Untangling and Healing from the Harmful Effects of Parental Narcissism, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers and Will I Ever Be Free of You? How to Navigate a High-Conflict Divorce from a Narcissist and Heal Your Family.


Question: How can I protect my child while divorcing a narcissist?

Answer: Dr. Karyl McBride - It is important when going through a divorce, if you have children, to have the children in therapy with someone well versed in the dynamics of narcissism and child therapy. It helps that the therapist also understands the legal process to some extent. A problem with narcissists and divorces is that the narcissist never forgets and can often move into revenge which then causes these high conflict contentious divorces. The narcissist just wants to win.

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - Excellent question and something I am asked quite often. Some quick thoughts: 1) Research finding a therapist that is available that focuses on providing therapy for children in your child's age group. Therapists that are accepting new clients are difficult to find these days so you will want to do your research ahead of time to identify who you think is a good fit. Therapy will be a good resource for your child as they will be going through many changes during the divorce process. 2) Understand the legal process you are about to embark upon, so you understand what options you must protect your child. This includes either meeting with an attorney for a consultation or consulting with the Self-Help Resource Center of your local District Court, which have great resources to educate you on what steps the Court process has to offer to protect your child; Finally, I would also suggest, that, if possible, create a paper trail of communications with your spouse. Meaning, organize your text messages, emails, voicemails regarding your communications with your spouse about your child as those could be helpful later in your case. When communicating with your spouse, be aware that Courts, attorneys, or other professionals could later review what you say, so choose your words carefully, remain calm and child focused. If your spouse chooses to engage in vulgar language, insults, or threats, do not volley back, but keep those hurtful messages for later use.


Question: How do you win in divorce court against a narcissist?

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - In any divorce, it is important to establish priorities. If your divorce involves children, a "win" would be whatever is best for your children regarding establishing a stable and loving co-parenting environment for the children in a post-divorce setting. If no children are involved, it is important to set realistic expectations as to what a "win" would look like. My suggestion would be to identify what your goals are in the divorce, identify what you would like your post-divorce future to look like in a year, 2 years, 3 years and so on. Then, after you have those goals in mind, sit down with a family law attorney for a consultation or meet with the Self-Help Clerk at your local Courthouse to understand the Court process and consider how you can try to achieve those goals.


Question: How do you expose a narcissist?

Answer: Dr. Karyl McBride - I am not sure what this means but the common cornerstone factors to look for in a narcissist is lack of empathy and the inability to tune into other's feelings. The other factors that are troublesome are exploitation of others to meet their own needs, a sense of entitlement, and bizarre jealousy. I don't care so much about being arrogant or boastful or all about them. Those factors don't hurt people as much.

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - Good question. We could spend a lot of time on this, but my first thought is: develop a team of support to surround yourself with. First, consider engaging a therapist who can help you get through the steps of separating yourself from a narcissist. A therapist can help you through the toughest phases of this process. Second, rely on trusted friends or family who can support you and be that sounding board and source of emotional support when you need it during the tough days. Third, you will have to, at some point, if you are married to this narcissist, decide whether it is best for you to formally disentangle yourself from this person, whether that requires a divorce or legally separate yourself from this person through the Court system. If this is necessary, it might be helpful to meet with a family law attorney to understand the divorce process, understand what your options are and to develop a plan of how to move forward. If you are not formally married to this person but need to formally disentangle yourself from them, there are other legal options you have, usually referred to as a "partition" case in our civil courts, but you should consult with an attorney about what best fits your situation.


Question: Do you have any accountability tips for extra curriculars? Context: We 50/50 co-parent a 13-year-old & have figured out that if his dad finds 'the best' coach or instructor we have a better track record with their follow through on taking him to practices. If it is too hard or they don't feel like taking him to practice, then my son feels a ton of anxiety and said he feels like an outsider from the team. Any advice legally?

Follow up Question: Stephen Vertucci - for extracurricular activities, do you already have Court Orders in place regarding what each parent's obligations are regarding the child's extracurricular activities, or is this a situation where no Court Orders exist yet regarding this issue?

Reader Response: We have joint decision making. It just highlights pay - if the other parent doesn’t want to participate in those, the solo parent pays. That's never an issue. We technically agree in theory. He wants him to be on the best team. Practice is 3 days a week. But then he will tell my son that he's selfish for needing to go to practice so much. So, he'll take him for 1 day.

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - Thank you for that clarification. If Father has agreed to the activity, then becomes inconsistent and either won't take him to practices/games when he is supposed to, or, if Father is manipulating the child emotionally by discouraging him to participate, you may want to consider filing a Motion with the Court about this to obtain more specific Court Orders that spell out each parent must fully support activities they agree for the child to participate in, Orders that say a parent cannot speak negatively or discourage the activities for the child they have agreed to, and that the parent MUST timely transport the child to activities/games for the child they have agreed to, or if they are not available to transport, they MUST permit the other parent to transport the child to/from those activities. I have seen Courts be willing to enter these types of specific Orders if you have the evidence to show how discouraging/manipulative the other parent is being. Another thought is having the child talk with a therapist or school counselor about the feelings Father's actions are causing. One last thought – and only if you are comfortable with it, you could ask that the child be interviewed about the topic and how it affects him.

Reader Reply: That's helpful. He always has good religious excuses. I assume it would come down to a war of values. I hesitate to go back to court because we will all pay for it - knowing my son will take the grunt of it. If we went down this path you suggested, what happens when he doesn't follow through with the court orders. He has a long history of not following through with court orders too.

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - The value in obtaining Court Orders with these types of specifics is that if Father violates those Orders, and we can prove he is violating those Orders, it opens the door regarding options of filing a Motion with the Court asking that Father be held accountable for violating those Court Orders. This can come in the form of what is called a "Motion for Contempt" or a "Motion for Parenting Time Disputes". Either of those options can potentially lead to Orders imposing consequences on Father for his violations, including awards of attorneys fees, compelling his compliance with what he was supposed to do in the first place, the Court could issue fines to Father, impose additional Orders, possible Orders for therapy (if appropriate), and any additional Orders the Court may deem necessary to ensure Father's future compliance.

Answer: Dr. Karyl McBride - Unfortunately, often the narcissistic parent only wants to take the child to activities that the parent likes or is interested in. This "finding the best" is an interesting dynamic with narcissists. + The narcissist will be inconsistent only doing what benefits them on a given day. Parental needs always take precedence over the child's needs with a narcissistic parent. Very sad. I usually recommend, if children, for the parties to pursue a custody evaluation with a seasoned professional. Do you agree with that @Stephen Vertucci?

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - Absolutely. Pursuing a custody evaluation with a seasoned professional is an ideal way, but not the only way, to have the most amount of information considered regarding concerns a parent has about what is best for the children. There are other options available, but a custody evaluation is the most comprehensive way to have the most amount of information considered. A custody evaluator is NOT limited in the way the Court is, regarding what information it can consider when making recommendations about what is best for the children. There are other options such as asking the Court to interview the child, asking for an attorney to be appointed to represent the child, among other options, but a custody evaluation remains the most comprehensive.


Question: When I went through my divorce, my Narcissist ex first separated me from my kids through false accusations of fearing for their safety, which was completely fabricated to justify her actions. I took the high road throughout my divorce, and, years after. I never talked down about my ex to my kids, and she did much the opposite. By not standing up to her, I missed years of my kids’ lives. Selfishly, I regret not standing up for myself more. My son and I have since grown close, but the damage to my relationship with my daughter has never been the same. How can you put the kids first when combating a Narcissist and not come out the bad guy?

Answer: Stephen Vertucci - First, I am so sorry to hear about what you have been through. That is a lot to respond to, but I will do my best. First, I would try to engage in therapy with your children to see what, if any, healing can begin to repair the damage that was caused previously. Getting into therapy with the children may depend on what your Court Orders require. However, identify qualified therapists that have dealt with your issues before and find someone that is available and see if the other parent will agree to begin that therapy for you and the children. If the other parent won't agree, you may want to consider asking the Court to permit the therapy to occur. However, much of this will depend on what your Court Orders state. Overall, therapy is likely the best path forward.

Answer: Dr. Karyl McBride - This is very difficult for anyone dealing with divorcing a narcissist. I still would say don't disparage the other parent, but you can provide empathy to them with what they are hearing and feeling. Continue to work on the relationships with the children always.


Question: Anyone struggling with being in a love relationship with a narcissist? Always look for empathy and reciprocity. Do they bring out the best in you, can they celebrate with you, and how do you feel in the presence of this person?

Answer: Reader - Dr. McBride, yes for sure!


Question: I could use some advice on my NPD ex whose alienated my 24-year-old daughter from me after divorce. It’s been 5 years. He wanted and filed for divorce after affair with woman he met on words with friend’s scrabble game. Married to her now. Crazy... daughter cut off all my family. Very sad. Spiraled down. Dropped out of college and treated for depression.

Answer: Dr. Karyl McBride - This is so sad, and I have seen it a lot. Don't give up. Keep trying and keep the door open always. She is young, it may come around. I would keep contacting her in nonobtrusive ways, such as cards or messages letting her know that you will always love her. If therapy is an option, try that for sure.

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