In a custody case, there are lots of labels.

Official labels. Labels that professionals choose for you, often within 20 minutes of meeting you.

Often before they meet you.

Often incorrectly. Often based on how many concerns your ex has voiced about you in advance of your first appointment. And when you have an ex who isn’t afraid to lie and never stops voicing concerns, you find that you are seldom experienced authentically—for who you are and what your true patterns of behavior have been over time.

It gets worse the longer a case goes. Because when your case goes on for years, regardless of who’s driving it, the professionals are inclined to assume that you’re an asshole right up front. They’ll say:

“It takes two assholes to keep a case in court like this. You two just can’t get enough of it.”

I’ve heard that plenty of times by now, regardless of the fact that my ex has filed everything—this time for full custody—and has invested years and more than his extra money and time trying to ensure that I don’t see our boys at all. Ever again. Or once a month at most—if the court insists. The actual and clear fact that he’s driving this entire process is not something anyone involved talks about. Ever. So I have to show up to say, “hey, I’ve consistently been a good parent, and I don’t want my time with my kids to go away. I love them and want to help raise them.” And I have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars defending the idea that I should be part of their lives. And I have to show up for hundreds of meetings and assessments and appointments over time, most of which I’ve come to believe have been decided before I even arrive.

Because I’m part of a process that makes everyone an “asshole.”

I’m an asshole.

I’d really like a new label.


Published by: H.G. Beverly

H.G. Beverly is a psychotherapist and author who is fascinated by the development of strong characters through difficult relationships. She has unique expertise in personality disorders and offers readers an insider's view of intimate life with psychopaths, sociopaths, and narcissists. Sometimes dark, sometimes ecstatic, her writing explores the full spectrum of what it means to love people who fool and hurt you—and how to rise again to love people who don't. Find her at

Categories AlienationTags, , , , , , 5 Comments

5 thoughts on “Labels”

  1. The counselor in charge of my case made up her mind after talking to my ex, his FIFTH wife, & my troubled (for good reason) daughter. She LIED to my attorney about me contacting her back. I was the one who agreed first to a counselor. As my phone records proved, I called her immediately. She did not share the photos and letters and emails (hard proof of my ex’s lies), etc., with her colleagues who were part of the recommendation. She refused to speak to my mom & my son, but spoke to those who had financial connections to my ex. She ignored the enmeshment that is a red flag of parental alienation as well as other red flags, including my ex’s failure to pay child support to two other wives. Yes, he is a professional con artist who conned me with lies and secrets, but a professional faced with hard evidence should look into the truth and consider — or did she even care? I’ve had other counselors say I should report her, since she refused to recommend help for my daughter who wound up hospitalized six months after moving in with her dad & being cut off from not only me, but her entire family. The nightmare continues, and now my daughter has even been cut off from his own mother, who my ex was cut off from when he was a teenager (another red flag anyone with common sense would be alarmed about).

    1. Painful to read. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Working with professionals who aren’t curious or who are easily charmed is an experience that can make you feel crazy.

      1. Yes, you are right. It feels like those horror movies where the protagonist has been alerted of danger & is trying to get help & warn all potential victims, but those in power to do something just don’t listen & allow the monster to continue terrorizing the innocent.

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