Tips on Co-Parenting with a Sociopath

co-parenting with a sociopath
Women and Divorce
Wendi Schuller
Author of
The Global Guide to Divorce

Sociopath is also called antisocial personality disorder and is one of the most difficult people to have as a co-parent.

New research has indicated that there can be a genetic link to having antisocial personality disorder and it sometimes runs in families.

Sociopaths are highly represented in the prison populations. People with antisocial personality disorder can be impulsive and reckless. Many are highly intelligent and choose occupations where they have power, such as politicians, police, clergy, trial attorneys, and surgeons.

Sociopaths lack empathy and compassion for others, yet seem (pretending) to care about them. Their good works are for show and glory only. They blame others and do not see the need to change themselves, so are not prone to seek therapy.

People with antisocial personality disorder manipulate more vulnerable people, such as their children. They have a sense of entitlement and use others to obtain what they feel is due to them out of life.

They blame others and are prime candidates for committing parental alienation.

Sociopaths can explode with rage which frightens kids, or the youngsters shut down to avoid being a trigger for this fury. Life is not stable when a parent’s moods are so labile. This is emotional abuse.

Sociopaths can be charming and may have swayed the court into granting ample shared time. Document everything, including what the children say, and your e-mail interactions. Their charisma may influence people in your children’s lives, such as teachers, who may support this enchanting parent.

They have no scruples and will try to corrupt their kids into doing dangerous or illegal activities.

One sociopath showed hardcore internet pornography to his young sons, acting as if this is normal. He threatened them not to tell their mother, or it would be their fault if the mum then broke up the family.

The younger son accidentally let slip what their father had recently shown them. The mum called the father who denied it, but she said that she was starting a formal investigation. He left her a day later. Her divorce solicitor asked why he couldn’t have done “another hobby, like bowling with the kids.”

Sociopaths do not have respect for life and may mistreat or torture animals. They may expose children to this atrocity.

Tips on Co-Parenting with a Sociopath

The key is clear communication with your children about what behaviour and ethics are acceptable and what is not. If they do not want to confide in you, have someone else available, if they are not in therapy.

Never let the sociopath into your home for any reason.

If you are in the marital house, make sure all locks, alarm and garage codes have been changed. Do not give out any personal information about yourself to this other parent. Make it clear to the children that anything at all about you or your shared life with them, is off limits to your ex. They can discuss their school, friends and activities, but not you.

Give your children at least daily hugs and praise... because they may not be hearing this from the other parent.
Give your children at least daily hugs and praise… because they may not be hearing this from the other parent.

Give your children at least daily hugs and praise. Inform them how much you appreciate them and their achievements because they may not be hearing this from the other parent. I made a big point of volunteering and having my sons do so as well to offset negatives from their father. They learned from an early age to have compassion and give back to animals and the community.

If you are told that your child is not respecting other children and is extremely cruel, this is a red flag.

Since there is a genetic component to antisocial personality disorder, have him evaluated by an experienced  psychiatrist or psychologist in this area. A youngster may be diagnosed with “conduct disorder” and can be helped with therapy. This condition can be a precursor for antisocial personality disorder and early intervention can prevent it from becoming full blown.

In therapy, specific parameters for behaviour are set with certain consequences. Conduct disorder is often diagnosed with juvenile delinquents and is not the same as a little acting out that comes with divorce.

If you or the children are in danger, seek help immediately.

Talk to your solicitor, the police or local abuse shelter.

Do not talk to your ex directly, but rather send businesslike e-mails. Better to use a third party intermediary for communication, such as a mediator.

Visitation can take place at a Contact Centre and if not supervised, have the drop off and pick up away from your home. The main points with co-parenting with sociopaths is to limit your contact and monitor the children’s well-being.



Wendi Schuller is a nurse, hypnotherapist and is certified in Neuro-linguistic Programing (NLP).

Her most recent book is The Global Guide to Divorce and she has over 200 published articles.

She is a guest on radio programs in the US and UK. Her website is

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  1. I was married to a sociopath for 12 years before we separated. I finally managed to get him out of the home and away from me and our two sons who are now 11 and eight. He went back to his narcissistic mother 4 hours away and was gone for two years and during that time I filed for divorce and did not care that he took all of our money and assets with him. I divorced him and asked for full custody and he never contested it or even show up for the custody mediation. I thought I was home free and two months before the divorce was final he showed back up on my doorstep insisting that he had been undergoing therapy and pleading with me to give him another chance. His behaviors seemed different and I started to doubt myself and what I knew deep down. After two weeks of letting him stay with us he started to show himself to be the sociopath he is and an email from his surprise fiancée where he was living confirmed that his return was premeditated. 7 days before the divorce was finalized he split my lip open and I called the cops but that backfired because he was a police officer before they fired him and they knew him and he told them that I was a meth and heroin addict. He told them I burned my lip on a crack pipe and they took me to jail for DV. he took my sons and left. The DA did not prosecute and the officers codes of conduct were questioned but it gave him the opportunity to file a DVRO in that other county asking for custody and he even requested personal possessions of mine. the judge saw through him and awarded me back my custody. He wouldn’t bring the kids to the courthouse so I filed abduction charges that went nowhere. The District Attorney’s Office had two investigators that he used to work with on the police department so they buried the report and gave him time to file a restraining order in my county where the divorce was. The judge here gave him custody when he put his spin on things. The details of the injustice and hell that I have been through the last year and a half don’t really matter now because he has maintained custody and I was ordered to a drug and alcohol program with supervised visitation. Even with the recordings I played for the court of him abusing me and the children and the negative drug tests I still lost my children to this heinous person. The judge even set the divorce aside because he said we were always reconciling and 56 negative drug test later and a graduation certificate from the program I’m going back into court and fight for my children again

    • What a mess for you and the children. What I wished that I had done, was to hire a children’s attorney for my younger son. They only represent the children and have their best interests at heart. They deal with corrupt judges and the court system. They fight hard for the child. it is an option. Get a therapist (hopefully your children have one) to send the court documentation about who is the best parent. This weighed heavily in my favour in my court case. The kids need to be able to vent to a neutral third party about the stress and chaos, so a therapist is a great help.

  2. I divorced a sociopath. This article is great but the court orders do not allow you to dismiss them. The abuse was so severe that my son and I will never be the same. He kicked me out and locked me out of the home I bought, threw my stuff out with his friend in front of my son, slandered me everywhere including my sons school and the neighborhood. I could go on, but want to let people know sociopaths are dangerous. When you divorce them WATCH OUT. They will destroy you at any costs. The legal system is corrupt and broken. There is no way to save your children in the State of Florida. My son is now subjected to living with a Satanic witch and a sociopath. I cringe everytime he goes back there. With a sociopath you have to learn to play a game. One that I was not good at. There is no co-parenting. I pay for everything. I have had to rearrange my thought process. Minimal contact and watch your back.

    • I agree with you that there are some corrupt courts in the States, or at best they are clueless. What I did not do, but in retrospect wish I had, was to get a lawyer for my younger son. The lawyer totally does what is best for the child. Law cases originating from a child’s lawyer may have more impact in court. Instead, I went to court in response to my ex having me summoned there. Co-parenting with a sociopath can mean absolutely no contact when there is a third party handling communication. My younger son worked with this person to get supervised visitation. When the supervisor for visitation, along with a therapist, etc. sent letters to the court saying enough is enough, my son was then allowed to cut ties.
      if your son has a therapist, they can petition to get contact with a toxic parent stopped or at least completely supervised. I don’t know how old your son is, but perhaps he could petition the court to stop visitation. It is such a difficult situation. What also helped me was knowing there is an end point. Eventually ties, such as visitation, alimony or child support, stop and freedom begins. I wish you the best.

    • Your safety is very important. Sociopaths can become violent. Do not allow your ex to come into the house when picking up or dropping off the kids. My solicitor had me out of our marital home and sent her paralegal assistant to supervise my husband getting his things (from a list) from our marital home.

  3. This comment is from Ashliea

    What if the sociopathic parent actually posts this to his fb and accuses the other patent as a sociopath. Very hurtful. It’s hard to prove empathy. Also I feel this actually can make the other parent want to disconnect and actually be antisocial when not around the kid as a defense to the harsh accusations and new fear towards getting close to people after such experiences with a sociopath. I’m feeling hurt and frustrated, bc true sociopaths actually win… (from my experience, it’s definitely gasslighting?) Help! Pleaseml.

  4. This comment is from Elizabeth:

    I need advice on how to deal with a sociopathic co-parent. I am in the process of acquiring my divorce from the courts. I have been separated from my husband for 8 years. I left the marriage after 15 years. I have two daughters, 17 and 12. I left the marriage because he was controlling, emotionally and financially. He controlled all household decisions, i.e. bills, mortgage, where we lived, what car we drove etc. Every time I asked if I could assist in the budgeting, and maintenance of funds he would simply say he was better at it. He used to lock up the filing cabinets that contained all of our household files and he would hide the key to those cabinets. He would even change the hiding place of the key daily. If for any reason I had to retrieve a file or look something up, I had to ask him for the key. Even though we had separate email accounts, he would read my email. He was a serial job quitter, he could not hold a job for more than two years. After years of this behaviour, he bankrupted us.

    Because I was the one who chose to leave the matrimonial home, I dealt with a lot of guilt. To deal with the guilt, I have sought out counselling through a therapist as well as through my church. I have healed for the most part. I finally decided it was time to get the divorce. However, I could not obtain a divorce without a separation agreement. I arranged for Mediation to get the agreement. Mediation failed as he would not provide financials. I was forced then to hire a lawyer and after an entire year of the ex stalling, a Minutes of Settlement was finally approved by a judge and filed in court.

    One of the stipulations of the Settlement was a Parental Code of Conduct. This was insisted upon by my lawyer because of the ex-husband’s constant failure to be civil to me. He has sent me hundreds of harassing text messages attacking my ability as a parent, attacking my character, my decisions, my family, and my boyfriend. I had to block him from my phone as the texts would come through several times a day.

    He abided by the Minutes of Settlement for the first few weeks, but has since gone back to his old ways of harassment. He has now extended this sociopathic behavior to my 17 year old daughter. He monitors her every move, grabs her cell phone out of her hand to see who she’s talking to, does not let her go over to her friend’s houses for sleepovers. She is becoming very frustrated with him as she does not feel he trusts her.

    I guess my question is how do I deal with this impossible person? I never react negatively to his emails. I never engage in name calling. I keep my email responses short and business like. I have tried to ignore him, but that just provokes him more and he continues with this narcissistic behaviour. I am at my wits end.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


    • This is Wendi, the author’s, reply:

      I am surprised that more safeguards were not set up for you by your lawyer or the judge at the onset. One big action that can be done in this situation is to have a court appointed monitor (mediator in my case) to handle ALL -100%- of communication between ex-spouses post-divorce. This means no calls, texts, e-mails, anything go directly to their ex. I suggest putting this in place. See about getting a restraining order and keep all documentation of past communication.
      My kids were also 17 & 12 in this situation. My 17 invited (or begged) a certain friend to be with them during their Sunday visitation. The minute he turned 18 he dropped out of seeing his other parent. His younger brother refused to go by himself, so supervised visitation was set up by the mediator who handled our communication (with his therapist’s help). I highly recommend that your kids see a therapist or some type of professional to help them deal with this situation. My sons did not take calls or communication between seeing their other parent. This was their choice. I stayed out of their relationship with the other parent. I did not co-parent as it would have been too scary for me and it was recommended by legal counsel not to do so. Feel free to e-mail me

  5. A sociopath can be either gender and when a formal custody evaluation is done with personality testing in the divorce, a sociopath is less likely to get physical custody. I use true life stories and examples in my articles and in this particular case, they were men. That said, I have encountered some sociopath mums, but they are not divorced, so did not use them in a divorce or co-parenting article. Wendi

  6. This assumes that the sociopathic parent is the father and not main custodian. Its a different kettle of fish when the mother who has full ‘control’ over the kids is the sociopathic personality.

    • You’re right in that the sociopathic parent can indeed be dad or mum. Not sure, however, if Wendi’s article is leaning more towards the father as the sociopath, she does give a couple of specific examples that involve fathers but I wonder if the rest of the article remains neutral.

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