Marriage to a narcissist can be a mind-bending adventure of alternate realities, continuous gaslighting, and at its worst, coercive control and abuse. Even when a spouse does not exhibit all the qualities of someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), their lack of empathy, need to be in control, and hunger for admiration can create a toxic environment.
Unfortunately, divorcing a narcissist triggers all their toxic traits. No matter how hard you try to keep the proceedings amicable, a narcissist will create a high-conflict divorce.
There are things you can do to make divorcing a narcissist in Atlanta, GA easier on yourself and your children. Working with an attorney experienced in high-conflict divorce is essential, but preparation and holding your ground are key.
Most people can get through most hard things with sufficient preparation. Going through a divorce with a narcissist is a very hard thing, but understanding how the process will play out can help.
First, speak with an Atlanta family lawyer with experience handling high-conflict divorces. This is critical because a high-conflict divorce requires different strategies and skill sets than an amicable divorce. Our team can explain the divorce litigation process in Fulton County and offer suggestions about preparing emotionally and financially for the split.
The spouse who is not a narcissist often wants an amicable divorce. The narcissist might agree but will hijack the process as soon as it gets underway. The other spouse and their attorney must be prepared for a long, contentious litigation.
Every divorce requires an exchange of financial information. Narcissists need to assert control and are untruthful when they believe it suits their purposes. A narcissist might delay responding to requests for information, or submit documents that are incomplete, misleading, or false.
Anyone married to a narcissist should be aware of the family’s finances, even if managing the money is something the narcissist handles. Ideally, you have copies of bank and credit card statements, investment account information, tax returns, and any other documentation of your financial life. An Atlanta, GA attorney can use that information to verify or challenge a narcissistic spouse’s financial disclosures.
Keeping a journal or similar record of each spouse’s spending can be helpful to determine the cost of maintaining the household and whether your spouse is wasting marital assets. A narcissistic spouse will often accuse you of overspending or deny you enough funds to provide a decent home after divorce. Good records can defeat these attempts.
Even narcissists who profess to love their children will not hesitate to use them as pawns in a divorce. You must work hard to protect your children from coercion and emotionally abusive situations.
One way to accomplish this is to develop a detailed parenting plan describing where the children will be every day of the week for the next year or longer. The plan should be clear about pickup and drop-off times and must accommodate the children’s schedules and activities. Narcissists often cannot negotiate a plan that serves the children’s needs, so it is important for you to demonstrate that you can. Keeping meticulous records of how the narcissist is complying with the plan can provide helpful information.
A judge often appoints a guardian ad litem (GAL) to assist them in making decisions about children, especially in high-conflict divorces. The Official Code of Georgia § 15-11-105 directs the GAL to get to know the parents and children, visit each parent’s home, and speak with therapists, counselors, teachers, neighbors, and extended family who might provide insight. The GAL submits a recommendation to the family court about the custody arrangement that serves the children’s best interests, which often weighs heavily in the court’s decision. An Atlanta divorce attorney can offer valuable advice about interacting with the GAL and countering a narcissistic parent’s attempts to charm and manipulate the GAL.
Narcissists may be difficult to live with but divorcing them can be even more challenging. Preparation is key to defeating the narcissist’s manipulative behavior and accomplishing your goals in divorce.
Working with an attorney experienced in managing high-conflict divorces is key. Call today if you are considering divorcing a narcissist in Atlanta, GA.