A Challenging Divorce: ‘Help, I Married a Narcissist!”
Most divorcing couples are able to work out the terms of their divorce agreements using mediation or negotiation. Only about 5% of divorce cases end up in court. Often, that has more to do with the personality of the parties than with the issues. Sometimes one party may have narcissistic tendencies.
Work in the field of psychology is shedding light on some of these contentious divorces – those in which one of the spouses has a narcissistic personality. A narcissist is twice as likely to be a man: charming, self-assured, extroverted. He is never wrong. If there is a problem, it’s always the other person’s fault.
The narcissist looks successful from the outside, but the spouse and children tell a different story. A narcissist is not concerned with the feelings of others; she is self-centered, he is arrogant. They feel entitled to special treatment and are extremely sensitive to insults or slights. Emotional outbursts, humiliation and intimidation keep those around them off balance.
Does this sound like your marriage? Have you been walking on eggshells for years, dealing with blame, shame, emotional or physical abuse? Are you desperate for a change?
I have spent more than 30 years representing individuals in the divorce legal system. I will do all I can to remove some of the stress out of your life. I have helped many a long-suffering spouse on the journey to freedom with a divorce decree in hand. Divorcing a narcissist is not going to be easy road. Your spouse has a way of turning everything into a conflict and blaming it on you. That’s what he or she will try to do. We’re not going to let that happen.
The Narcissist is a Game Player
I have extensive trial court experience and you will need that because narcissists find it virtually impossible to compromise. They don’t negotiate; they fight it out in court. Their strategy? Make this as difficult as possible so they can stay in control of your life.
Don’t be surprised if your narcissist spouse:
- Lies about anything: He or she may falsely accuse you of physical violence or harm to your children. She might call child protective services and report you for things you never did. He may lie about things that can easily be proven.
- Distorts reality to fit their needs – and bring others along with them. He may call your friends and family with a story that makes you look bad and turns them against you. She doesn’t care about your reputation or how this may hurt your children. In order for the narcissist to be blameless, you must be at fault.
- Refuses to provide financial information required by the court, lie about his income, hide her assets, and refuse to pay court ordered support
- Ignores court orders to vacate the home or to pick up the children at a certain
- Tries to drive up court costs by not showing up for court dates, put misleading information in filings, fails to respond to some aspects of a proposed solution so your attorney will be kept busy writing more letters and doing more discovery.
The Narcissist’s Lawyer May be a Game Player, Too
Your narcissist spouse may choose a divorce lawyer who will pick a fight and use questionable tactics to get the upper hand. We may see tactics like giving improper notice of hearings, repeatedly asking for continuances and missing deadlines, using hearsay testimony and unqualified “experts.” Your spouse may fire his/her lawyer – maybe more than one.
To Divorce a Narcissist You Need a Solid Strategy
Just reading about how a narcissist can manipulate the legal system to hurt you can sound exhausting. Just know my law firm is on your side and we have a plan to deal with this behavior.
- We’re realistic from the start. We know this is not going to be settled out of court. We will prepare you to go to trial.
- We will support you through this process. Please follow your lawyer’s instructions. We want your case to be successful and we want you and your children to be safe.
- We will be smart and strategic with your money. Your spouse is going to try to run up the bill. We are going to stay laser focused on your goals and do a cost-benefit analysis so you are putting your resources where they are most likely to get important results.
- We will advise you to gather information and financial documents as soon as possible, even before your spouse knows you are filing for divorce.
- We will ask you to document lies and abusive behavior so we can seek out reliable witnesses.
- We can access investigators, if needed, so we’re ready to go to court with facts about your financial situation and the ability to refute allegations of abuse or wrongdoing.
- We will not hesitate to file contempt actions if your spouse violates a court order.
Divorcing a narcissist can be dangerous to the spouse. Being right and coming out on top are a narcissist’s most important goals and if you are thwarting those goals, retaliation is a real possibility. He may stoop to stalking, harassment, destruction of your property, assault on you or abuse of your children. She may spend down family money so you don’t have access to it.
Talk to me, your lawyer if you feel unsafe before, during or even after your divorce. Narcissists can be triggered and strike back after the divorce is finalized, when you start a new relationship or get remarried, or anytime a child support order is modified.
Post-Divorce Legal Issues
The game never ends for a narcissist and you may end up in court again, particularly around child custody and visitation matters. Remember, you cannot win in weeks or months of back and forth emails. Call your lawyer and go back to court to get a modification of court order. The court can also order that your ex-spouse limit all communications with you. If your ex-spouse violates the order, we will file a contempt action to enforce existing court orders.