Divorcing your Karma - Transforming Family Law

Divorcing your Karma - Transforming Family Law Legal advice on transforming the "karmic nature" of family law cases. For further information see our blog at http://www.divorcingyourkarma.org


“This is my dad, mowing my mom’s lawn. They’ve been divorced 28 years. My mom has bad knees, and my step dad works out of town. When my younger siblings questioned “Why is your dad mowing moms lawn?” I told them “Because, She needed help, and he knew she couldn’t get out here to do it, so he did” This is co parenting. This is how lucky I am to have 4 parents who respect each other, and know that at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is showing your children (Even ones that are 32 years old) how to treat people, and how to love your family, no matter how it came together. Edit: My dad is humored at how many people have seen this. He wants everyone to know “I’m no saint”, He just wants to show others that you don’t need to act like an angelic pastor on lent, but that we should all choose kindness whenever we can.”

Credit: Codie LaChelle Upp-McPhate


Navigating High Conflict Divorce – Borderline and Narcissistic Personalities

You’re trying to take the “high road.” You’re trying to show a good example of collaboration and cooperation while going through the divorce and/or custody process, but your Ex, is doing the exact opposite! You want to react and throw back all of the negative, slanderous mud that’s been slung at you, but that little voice inside of your head (the one with the halo attached) has so far kept you in check while Ghandi’s famous quote, “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” keeps running through your head.

On the other hand, you’re afraid that if you don’t go on the attack, the court and/or mediators will believe all of the lies that your Ex is spreading and your case will suffer. What to do?

There has been a lot of buzz about Narcissistic and Borderline personality disorders and several good books have come out lately about going through a divorce with a partner who has one of these personality disorders. My favorite, called “Splitting,” by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger is a worthwhile read, which I recommend to educate yourself on how to best protect yourself under these circumstances.

In a nutshell, Narcissistic and Borderline personalities are a growing problem in our society with approximately 10% of the population now diagnosed with one or both of these disorders. It’s important to be able to recognize some of the “patterns” of these disorders (but not necessary to diagnose your ex-partner) so that you can better navigate the already tricky divorce and/or custody waters, now turned treacherous by opposing someone with BPD or NPD. By learning how to best respond to these patterns (think more in terms of recognizing patterns and traits, rather than having to “prove” a diagnosis to your Ex, the court, or to anyone) you’ll save a lot of time, effort and money.

The Book “Splitting,” lists someone with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as typically feeling unworthy and empty, lacking a sense of self, constantly fearing real or imagined abandonment, and having some or all of these characteristics:
•Sudden and intense anger
•Wide, rapid mood swings
•Impulsive behavior, often regretted but sometimes defended as justified
•Substance abuse, eating disorders, or other potentially self-harming behavior
•Potentially violent actions, with a buildup of tension, an explosion of rage, and then remorse
•Impaired, black-and-white thinking, called “splitting.” People with BPD put their partners on pedestals at the beginning of the relationship and then push them off when their partners are unable to meet all their demands. Splitting is a major contributor to high-conflict divorce.
•Great fear of abandonment, which nearly always comes into play during a divorce – even if THEY initiate the divorce.

People with BPD may also:
•Purposely or unconsciously selectively use sensitive information (such as finances, pregnancy, illnesses, or serious problems) to sway others to their viewpoint
•Seek revenge – for example, by destroying important personal possessions or spreading rumors.
•Seek vindication – for example, by demanding loyalty and endless reassurance, and filing lawsuits

They usually deny responsibility for any of the previously noted behaviors.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) often have some or all of these characteristics:
•Are self absorbed and indifferent to the needs of others
•Believe they are superior to others
•Are very charming, exciting and persuasive
•Lack empathy for others (although they may mouth the customary words)
•Are highly sensitive to criticism or perceived insults
•Fear being seen as inferior or helpless
•Have a sense of entitlement, or the feeling that they’re owed special treatment for no apparent reason
•Are demanding of attention and admiration
•Are demeaning and insulting to people closest to them, sometimes in public
•Regularly complain about being a victim and are being taken advantage They usually deny responsibility for any of the preceding behaviors.

So how do you navigate through a divorce and/or custody battle with someone with BPD and/or NPD? Very carefully. Very consciously. Its great to educate yourself with tools such as the book “Splitting,” and by hiring an attorney and/or mediator who is also aware of these characteristics and how best to respond to these types of personality disorders. By doing so, you will be setting yourself at a definite advantage. The key here is RESPONDING, not reacting; making decisions consciously, rather than allowing the “karma” to take over and run the show. If your lawyer is familiar with these concepts, great, if not, see if they are open to learning and hand him/her a copy of “Splitting.”

While strategies on dealing with BPD’s and NPD’s while divorcing are many, varied and situational, there is one thing that I consistently advise as homework for my clients… WORK ON YOURSELVES. This is our true “home-work.” It’s easy and seemingly natural to focus on the wrongdoings of our partner and when we read the list of characteristics which define a BPD or NPD, we, no doubt, see many of the traits of our Ex jumping off of the page, but what we should also be striving to see is how WE also show some of these characteristics, ourselves. If we really wish to “Divorce our Karma” and not keep repeating our same old lessons again and again, WE NEED TO CHANGE and we begin the process by recognizing that all of our experiences are mirrors to use to see inside of ourselves…. where it’s all happening. When we recognize and change the characteristics in ourselves which we complain about in others, we suddenly or gradually will see a change in those very characteristics in those around us. Now, I’m not suggesting that a miracle will occur when we start doing this inner work (though I’ve seen MANY in my practice), but there will be some kind of palpable change which will happen when we can truly root out these very characteristics (no matter how little of a smidge that we may find) in ourselves. The change may be that we don’t have to be around the person who exhibits those characteristics any longer, or it may be that the person himself/herself starts to have a greater awareness of their issues, but either way, WE’VE changed for the better and that will make our own lives and the lives of those around us, better.

Be the change. YOU be the change. Don’t wait for others to change first, you may be waiting for lifetimes. You do it, now. For all of us. I’ll do it too. That’s the great thing about taking the high road… when you are up there, many others can see you and you can inspire others through your example (your kids being the primary ones influenced). Also, when you are on the high road, the view is mighty fine.

Affirmation and Prayer for when you are contemplating Divorce – Divorcing Your Karma


Affirmation and Prayer for when you are contemplating Divorce The decision to divorce will most likely be one of the major decisions of your life. When potential family law clients come to my office, my go to plan is always to help them to restore their marriage. Unfortunately, the vast majority o...


The decision to divorce will most likely be one of the major decisions of your life. When potential family law clients come to my office, my go to plan is always to help them to restore their marriages. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my clients, by the time they are sitting in my office, have tried every route to save their marriage, and are at their wit’s end, and they believe that separation and divorce is their only option.

At this stage, when my clients feel that they have tried anything and everything to heal their marriage, I try to encourage and guide them to understand that how one ends a marriage, can often be one of the most, or THE most important chapters in the relationship. How one ends a marriage or long term partnership is the foundation upon which you are building your new lives. You want to build it correctly, so what you later build upon this site will be strong and lasting… in other words, you want to build something that won’t come crashing down again.

I do my best to help clients realize that they are still a family with their ex-partners; this is especially true when there are children involved… they are still Mother, Father and Child(ren), and although they will now be "a family" living in separate homes, with potentially new family members (step-parents, new siblings) joining them, they are still for all intents and purposes, Family.

If any of you are familiar with Parmahansa Yogananda, you will appreciate the following affirmation/prayer which he gave to help people who were struggling with the decision of divorce. If you aren’t familiar with Yogananda, you should be! I highly recommend his book “Autobiography of a Yogi” and any other of his writings that you can get into your hands and heart. In fact, a small brown box was given to the attendees of Steve Job’s memorial service on their way out from the memorial. It was the last thing Steve Jobs wanted all of his friends to think about. The box contained a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s book, “Autobiography of a Yogi,” a spiritual book that inspired Jobs throughout his life. It will inspire you too!


“Father, we came together in love. Teach us to live together in love, or, if it is Thy will, teach us to part in love and understanding.”

– Parmahansa Yoganada


After practicing family law for nearly 30 years in Southern California, I've witnessed the urgent need for reform. Wise Confucius said, "To put the world in right order we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right." It all begins with our hearts. In family law, as in life in general, it's easy to spot the mountains of blame that we all put upon one another. The problem is that when we blame others, we give away all of our power, and we need that power to make change! Sure, other people make poor decisions which affect us, but when we begin to take responsibility for what is happening, to see what role we have played in causing this circumstance to come about, we "take back our power," and release the victim mentality which keeps us powerless and unable to make the changes necessary. Once we see that we helped create the circumstances in our lives (whatever hand we had in it), we become Creators (remember that we are made in the Image of God/The Creator) and can create new lives for ourselves, which are more harmonious and peaceful, full of acceptance and accomodation for all. We can find ourselves less and less pulled by the outer circumstances and can begin to write the script of change which our lives and this world sincerely need.


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