Ask Evie: Should I Testify Against My Toxic Ex In His Custody Case With Another Woman?

Welcome to Ask Evie, our advice column. Readers can submit their questions, and our editors will dish out their best advice!

By Evie3 min read
Pexels/Mikhail Nilov

READER’S QUESTION: "A few years ago, I found myself in a relationship with a very toxic man. I finally crawled my way out of it, and life is going really well at the moment! Recently, one of his exes, with whom he has a kid, reached out to me to provide testimony over this man's toxic behavior and overall poor character for their custody court case. Should I help her? Part of me believes that I should because I believe she has a serious situation sharing a baby with someone who is so unstable and a good liar. That is the thing: He is such a good liar and good at living double lives that he dated me while she was pregnant and only confessed to dating multiple girls after I found myself pregnant and had an early miscarriage. I later found out that there was a third girl in the mix (I accidentally ran into them making out on the beach just a few weeks after my miscarriage), and he later cheated on her with a fourth girl, who I believe he is still dating.

I have made my peace with the sad situation, and I question myself if this is vengeance on my end, an act of closure, or simply what the court system is for. I believe if things go bad for him, that would be the result of his actions and not my fault. I don't wish him ill, and it pains me that he may lose custody of his kid, but if I were in this girl's shoes, I would also want the help.

What should I do? Should I provide a character reference on my toxic ex?"

EVIE’S ADVICE: It’s great that you are so self-aware and mature that you see this situation clearly from all angles, despite your being treated terribly by your ex in the past. It is true that getting involved could stir up some uncomfortable feelings and act as a sort of vengeance in allowing you to get “even” with your ex for everything he put you through. On one hand, you’ve moved on and say that your life is “going really well,” so we hesitate to tell you to get involved in his affairs when it doesn’t directly affect you. This could potentially drag you back into a toxic situation where you’re the target of his hatred in addition to his ex if he feels like your testimony is unfair criticism. Especially if he does lose his child in the court case and feels as if you contributed to that, we worry that, if he is a truly toxic person, he may feel the need to seek revenge or bring down your happiness in some way. 

On the other hand, you probably won't be telling the court anything the mother of his child isn't already going to tell them. Your role would mainly be to prove that she is telling the truth and not making up lies to prejudice the court against him unfairly. The court's role in this situation is to decide what is best for the child, while also trying to accommodate the parents' rights where it is safe/best for the child. The science is clear that having an involved mom and an involved dad is what is best for child development, but can he be a safe dad is the question here. Is this a case where no dad would serve the child better than a bad dad? That is what the court is trying to figure out and a question you should ask yourself as well to determine whether you should get involved to help. 

There’s a difference between being a bad boyfriend and an unfit parent.

Are you labeling him toxic because he cheated on you and wasn’t a good boyfriend or because he’s manipulative and so unstable that you genuinely believe he would cause harm to his child? There’s a difference between being a bad boyfriend and an unfit parent. Keep in mind that you don’t know the whole situation since you are not in the relationship and haven’t seen how he behaves with his ex-girlfriend or kid. You also don’t know firsthand that his ex-girlfriend is the best parent for their child. There are always two sides to every story, and although you have a stake in wanting to believe that he is at fault (maybe rightly so), there’s likely more to what’s going on than what she is telling you. 

At the end of the day, your choice on whether to provide a character reference for your toxic ex shouldn't be motivated by a desire for revenge or even closure – it should be motivated by the intention to help do what is best for this child in the given circumstances. You don't need to take sides – your ex versus the other woman – because the focus is on what is best for this kid.

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