Dear Dr. Rosemond,
I have an 18 month old daughter who is a normal, happy toddler. My soon-to-be-ex husband is my concern. He was never good with change, but the birth of our daughter catalyzed him into a spiral of depression, suicide threats, and paranoia. Once he was medicated when she was 5 months old, he blamed me for his suffering, and distorted our marriage and my character publically to manipulate others--including his attorney, psychologist, and enabling parents--into believing that I am the uber-villain of all of the bullies he faced throughout his life. He is diagnosed with OCD and depression, is a narcissist, and has borderline personality traits, features which came out in full relief with the life-change of becoming a parent.
I initiated our separation before our daughter was a year old because I hoped that by separating myself as a target for verbal abuse and distortion from what became a nightmarish, toxic household, that I might spare her by providing two quiet households. While life is quieter, I can expect needling and vengeful behavior from him whenever we interact. I have learned not to respond to these behaviors.
In the spring, he filed for 50/50 custody, and the judge, newly appointed to the bench and our judge as long as she is in family court, decided--without a hearing--in his favor, to the shock of my family, friends who knew of his mental illness, and others. My question is, how can I protect my daughter from his manipulative ways and mental illness as she grows up?