We're seeking full custody of my stepdaughter. Is Muchausen Syndrome by proxy hard to prove in court?

We're seeking full custody of my stepdaughter. Is Muchausen Syndrome by proxy hard to prove in court?
We are seeking full custody due to possible Muchausen Syndrome by proxy. Is this hard to prove in court?
My stepdaughter's mother is constantly taking her to the doctor. She has taken her to the ER 16 times since 2007 & the majority of the visits are because she said she had 105 degree or higher temperature; and that's just the one ER we've received her file from! She always calls freaking out that she doesn't know what to do, what do I give her, etc. She is 6 yrs old and her mother still has to ask my husband what to do when she has a fever...tylenol/motrin...not that hard to remember! Anyways, we believe she completely exaggerates on how high the fever really is. Recently I sprained my ankle & my stepdaughter started acting like she hurt hers, then went on to act like she hurt her knee. We knew she just wanted attention to be like me so we "babied" her by playing around & giving her the attention she wanted but we knew she wasn't hurt. Well apparently she did this at her mom's afterward & her mom took her to the doctor & completely made this "knee pain" out to be so extreme and as if she had been in constant agony for quite some time that the doctor tested her for leukemia! This is crazy! Now my step daughter is really starting to show signs that she believes she is sick or hurt all the time. We're worried about her & have gotten the doctor & ER visits sent to us to take to an attorney. Oklahoma favors the mom so we know it's not going to be the easiest or cheapest case but we have to do something. Does anyone have any suggestions or opinions to share on this?

- rafferty
first you will need an expert to testify that she has it, and for that, the expert will have to examine her.

She certainly sounds like she needs attention and prefers to gain it through medical events, and through the little girl.

You can try, but I can promise you one thing - if you lose, your relationship with the granddaughter will be compromised if not totally over. It's a gamble.

You may find that being a larger part of the child's life is in order - and let her know that hypochondria is not tolerated. Lavish praise for accomplishments and minimize boo boos.

Good luck - it's a sticky situation

- Josh T
That sounds more like an anxiety issue, an overly nervous or attentive new mother or maybe Hypochondria... by proxy, though I have never heard of such a thing. Munchhausen is a disorder where the person hurts themselves or others in order to get attention. Taking the child to the doctor because she thinks it's something it isn't is not a danger nor is it illegal. The child may end up growing up to be a hypochondriac herself or develop an extreme anxiety disorder but... sadly that isn't grounds to separate them. If the mother starts actually inflicting pain in order to get sympathy then you have a case... until then you just need to council her on what being a parent is like, and not every case of the sniffles is something extreme.

If you can talk to the doctor's to see how the mother reacts during each visit it would help. If she always steers the conversation to herself that could be a sign... though typically this would be more of an indication of a narcissistic or dependent personality type... again though, not munchhausen.

- James
First, this is not Munchausen by proxy. Munchausen is when you deliberately cause someone to get injured or ill in order to get attention. Second, her activity may be grounds for custody, but you will need complete records and expert testimony. Expect it to cost a lot. The first step is to take your information to a lawyer specializing in custody issues.

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