Divorcing a Narcissist: Contempt of Court for Child Support

In July of 2009, I came to the realization that my divorce wasn’t going to be the peaceful, amicable ending that I had envisioned and hoped for.

Back then, I had heard the term “Narcissist” but I had no clue about the journey that was in front of me.  I had no idea what “divorcing a Narcissist” would really entail and I wasn’t equipped to handle things as they were unfolding.

For the past three years, I have focused solely on fighting to protect my daughters and I feel that I’ve done a good job given the challenges of being ‘in pro per’ and up against a court system that isn’t educated in Cluster B personality disorders.  With that said, I have been so focused on protecting the girls that I haven’t had the time or energy to tackle the child support issues.  Namely, the lack of child support issue.  My X hid income in 2010 and once discovered, it placed him about $15,000 in arrears.  In the past twelve months, he has made two full monthly payments only because his wages were garnished.  Between 2010 and 2012, his arrears have grown to be in the neighborhood of $37,000.  His interest alone is $250 per month on the past due balance.

Over the past few years I have struggled from a financial standpoint.  More importantly, my children have gone without the things they were accustomed to such as gymnastics, dance lessons and other child-friendly activities.  This time of year (school starting) has been extremely stressful with the added cost of school clothing and new shoes.  In the beginning stages, I would send him emails begging for help.  I came to realize that he thrived on this.  He would send me emails outlining the fabulous minimum wage jobs that I could take on in the evenings.

From that point on, I refused to give him the benefit of knowing my financial situation or struggles.  I decided to leave it in the hands of Child Support Services of California.  I’ve come to discover that Child Support Services has their hands tied.  The process of collection is long and drawn out.  The system is over burdened and while they can go after someone’s drivers license or seek jail time for non-payment, it takes months and months.

Last year, someone who knows my X husband sent me a link to forms for “Contempt of Court” and advised that I file on the 1st of every month for each missed payment.  She stated that while contempt is very difficult to prove, it should be easy in the case of my X husband.  I sat on those forms and debated whether or not to file on many occasions.  I recently spoke to a local attorney who said, “Tina, normally I would discourage anyone in pro per from filing contempt charges because they are very difficult to prove.  If anyone can do it and succeed, it’s you”.

Those were the words of encouragement that I needed.  It isn’t about me.  It’s about my daughters and the things that they lack in their lives.  I can’t even imagine how different that our lives would be if we had received the $37,000 in support payments over the past few years.  Meanwhile, a Narcissist is content buying a new car, living in a luxury condo and spending money at wineries and restaurants with zero regard for his daughters.

This week I filed papers to have my X husband held in contempt of court.  This could mean stiff penalties or jail time.  Prior to filing, I sent him a simple email to ask for an update on his employment status.  I notified him of my plan to file contempt charges if we couldn’t resolve these matters.

This was his response:

Tina, I propose we go to (XYZ) Mediation Services not Commissioner (ABC). 
He is going to be furious to see you and me again. 
I set up automatic deposits from my wages and the earliest this could start was the paycheck today. If you proceed with this hearing, I do not foresee this being favorable for you as payments will be consistently paid to you three times before this hearing. Let me know so I can proceed with proving you have written false amounts on court documents about your income.  Best regards, The X
Let me translate this for you in the Narcissism De-Coder:
Tina, Let me try and convince you that I am trustworthy enough to go to mediation like normal divorcing couples.  Before I begin, please have a sip of this kool-aid.  I really don’t want to go in front of the Commissioner because I know how bad this will look.
Don’t mind the million broken promises from the past about automatic payments being made and the check that was placed in yesterday’s mail.  This time, my word is golden.
If you proceed with the hearing, I am totally screwed so sit tight and put your feet up while I try and twist this around and project my lies about income onto YOU.   Best Regards, The X
I should hear the Commissioner’s decision on Monday– this will determine if he plans to set a hearing for Contempt of Court.
Worst case scenario: the Commissioner is now aware of the past 12 months of missed payments and has proof of my X’s extravagant lifestyle during his time of “poverty”.


One Mom’s Battle: Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), Custody Evaluators, therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children.

History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2009, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother, (Tina Swithin), navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth. Tina’s battle spanned from 2009 – 2014 during which time she acted as her own attorney. Ultimately, Tina was successful in protecting her daughters and her family has enjoyed complete peace since October 2014 when a Family Court commissioner called her ex-husband a “sociopath” and revoked his parenting time in a final custody order.

Tina Swithin: Divorcing a narcissist? Tina Swithin’s books are available online at Amazon (print, Kindle or audio format). Each year, Tina offers life-changing weekends of camaraderie and healing at the Lemonade Power Retreat.  Tina also offers one-on-one coaching services and a private, secure forum called, The Lemonade Club, for those enduring high-conflict custody battles.






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  1. sue ds

    Isn’t it crazy to know that all this b.s isn’t going to stop until after our children are grown up? It’s a hard way to live but you are doing every thing you can do for your girls, and you can go to bed every night in peace knowing that that much is true!

  2. Good for you!

    I realize at times it can feel overwhelming–boy do I realize! But you are taking a really intelligent approach by prioritizing which topic you tackle with the court; safety first, then financial support.

    It seems to me it should be fairly simple by the time someone is $37K in arrears, almost half of which is because they lied to the court. Either they follow through on a repayment plan, or the court terminates parental rights on the grounds of abandonment. Not that I know how the court system operates, this is just my personal opinion.

    The law does not say we have to be good parents. However, it does say we have to provide food, shelter, etc for our children. When his behavior –i.e., refusal to pay childsupport–leads to you struggling indefinitely to purchase basic things like school supplies, clothes and shoes, that strikes me as effectively being abandonment on his part.

    I’m guessing he only sees the girls when he wants more pictures or stories to tell everyone what a great dad he is?

    The court should get involved and throw some jail time at him. I’d love to see the court confiscate his fancy new car and sell it at auction and put the proceeds toward his support arrearages, less cost. I have no idea if they can do that, but can you imagine him trying to explain that to his friends?

    Whether you get the funds re-started or not, you guys are going to be just fine. God provides. Keep your eyes on the Lord, and guard your heart against bitterness as you start this process. Just because he’s an a$$wipe is no reason to let him poison you as you re-open some old wounds. (And I know that is easier said than done.)

  3. M.

    Hey there,
    My girls are with their dad, this week. We have a court date looming, so he has been stirring up trouble and trying to make it look as if I am being difficult because I am holding him accountable to do what he said he wanted to do 3 months ago, which I was in agreement with, or should I say forced to be(court ordered because I was ill advised by my former attorney with 40+ years experience) Anyway, is the Narc De-coder available for sale anywhere, I gotta get me one of those. It has been three years, I still can’t figure mine out-at least not in a way that it offers the blessings and chuckles I get when you do it with yours:) Praying that the Lord will remove the scales from the eyes of the system and all goes well for you Monday.

  4. Anna Thompson

    I LOVE IT when you write the letter from the ex and the interpretation! When people see letters from my ex, they look at him as “reasonable” (and of course calm). But if they could only see and believe the _translation_~! It helps me! Validation and sanity-help, yes, whew. You are a godsend!

    And that’s to say, oh my this is so familiar.

    Hoping the best for you~

  5. Angela

    I am grateful for your blog. The “decoder” remark made me crack a smile today. Thank you for that.

  6. Kerri

    Between reading Tina’s blog and dealing with my Narc X I’ve learned part of the decoder it goes something like….

    Dear N Supply, I am accusing you of doing ABC because I am guilty of doing ABC myself, so of course I will blame you.

    Sincerely, Have a Jesus Bless Day (my Narc) Best regards (all of which mean (“chew on that and PLEASE feed me some NS!”)
    X Narc 🙂

  7. M.

    Thanks Kerri. I’ll put my Narc goggles on :)and give it a try! My exes emails are more hostile, condescending, definitely accusatory and lengthy. I am not sure I can do it with as much finesse. My X, as I am sure yours will, has and will continue to give ample opportunity to practice!;)

  8. Jan

    Hi Tina,

    New to your site within the last 24 hours. I hope your meeting goes well with the Commissioner. It’s hard for me to imagine being in your shoes. I’m in the complete opposite position, as I had to give up custody of my two teenage children 4.5 years ago. Because I have a normal job, child support has always been garnished from my paycheck. My kids have never had a penny of it pass through their hands though because their N father “needs” it all to support himself. Sure, the kids live under his roof but you’d think that he’d have the money to pay for tampons for my daughter, rather than have her use her own spending money.

    The best you can do is the best that you can do – really. And you are doing a fantastic job, by the sounds of things.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.


  9. Kerri

    I’m actually afraid to count my chickens before the eggs hatch but I THINK he’s found a brand new supply source better than me because I haven’t heard a word, not a peep, nothing, in 4 weeks!!! He speaks to no one at the daycare when he picks up and drops off our 2 year old either. The mediator/psychologist told me, ignore what I can answer straight and to the point( 1 sentence if possible) what I can’t and once he found new supply and learned I was a useless source, mine and the kids’ life would normalize again.

  10. Janine

    Sadly Sue, it won’t stop after they are grown up. He won’t change so it will all depend on how the girls define the boundaries of their relatinship with him. No matter what those boundaries are, Tina will be blamed. It may get less intense for Tina, but for the girls, that will be up to them. Hopefully they continue to thrive emotionally through Tina’s guidance but having a Narc for a parent is very damaging which is why Tina’s fight is justified.

  11. Janine

    Good luck to you Tina, you deserve a break already. I always feel like I am getting the short end of the stick. I love other people’s victories as it gives me hope!

  12. sympathetic

    Do you understand why it is considered so hard to prove contempt. I filed the other day and was told the same thing (and have no attorney) but I am puzzled by the assertion that it is so hard to prove. I don’t doubt that it is, but I don’t know what it is (and I guess will soon see). If there is a support order and the person ignores it, does not pay, and spends freely on other things … is that not contempt? I suppose the ex could show up and say, “I certainly did pay! She just didn’t deposit the checks to spite me!” but couldn’t the judge then order the ex to supply his bank statements?
    hoping you can shed some light!

  13. Tina

    Yes- that is it exactly. I am able to go to sleep knowing that I’ve done everything in my power.

  14. Tina

    I wish they could sell his car but he conned his ex-roommate into signing for it by promising him marketing/business help. From what I’ve been told, there are two owners on the car.

  15. Tina

    I am getting better at the Narc decoder– and as much as he tries to scale down the craziness factor of his communication….he can’t help himself. Hang in there 🙂

  16. Tina

    There is something to the validation, isn’t there. I have those moments all the time lately!

  17. Tina

    Yay! Smiles are good- and contagious 🙂

  18. Tina

    I could decode some of my old ones like that. They are horrible and hostile. I think I was running a brothel complete with the red light on my front porch…the odd thing is that I’ve only been in one relationship since my X and its still going strong three years later. His brothel theory just went out the window. Oh well…. 😉

  19. Tina

    Thank you for your kind words and I am so incredibly sorry for the position that your in. Hugs back atcha! T

  20. Tina

    Its a rollercoaster to say the least. I am sending you hugs and positive thoughts! Tina

  21. Tina

    I reviewed a handful of cases that I found online. They are hesitant to jail someone until they have absolutely solid evidence. You really have to back up what you are saying with hard facts and indisputable evidence.

    From what I understand, they can set a hearing at which time the judge can order bank statements, etc. Keep me posted!

  22. TA

    In Florida if a motion of contempt for delinquency is filed, a financial affadavit has to be submitted and notarized. If there is any doubt, I can file for discovery. Good luck to you as always!! I really appreciate your blog and read every day =0

  23. Part of the reason the court is so reluctant to jail offenders is that if they are not working, they are also not paying child support.

    Which seems pretty silly to me, as the whole reason you are filing contempt charges in the first place is that they are not paying child support.

    So instead of punishing the offender, the court actually rewards them for not paying child support by not imposing any consequences for not paying child support.

    But no one ever said the American court system believes in common sense.

  24. I live in Texas and I have asked the Attorney General to enforce the child support order. He is behind $12,000 plus interest. He also owes $3,000 for unpaid medical expenses. I sent him a certified letter giving him 30 days to pay before turning it over to the OAG as well. He called to ask me to extend it and asked if we could work out a payment plan. He’s just struggling with his recent eviction (due to gambling). Sure, let’s work out a plan like all of the other ones where the check is in the mail. He’s been working child support deals with me for a year, but I only received a payment when the OAG stepped in. It is such a long process and all of the burden of proof falls on me. I’ve had to send them copies in triplicate of everything. I’m waiting for them to require a blood sample. I have to do all of this work even though I have followed by the rules. He sits back and does nothing and I have to BEG the authorities for help. I have to prove that I need help…in triplicate.

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