Can I Settle My Divorce From a Narcissist With Mediation?

May 7, 2024 | Content

Narcissists often attract, and are attracted to, people who are natural peacekeepers. While the narcissist creates havoc in every situation, their partners are often the ones to smooth things over.

Does this sound like you? If so, you are probably hoping you can use your skills at de-escalating conflict to manage an amicable divorce. Unfortunately, that result may be unlikely.

Anyone who decides to end a marriage to a narcissist should prepare for a difficult divorce. Although a skilled family attorney will make every effort to settle the divorce through negotiation, narcissists often insist on “winning,” punishing their spouse, or both. In many cases, mediation is unsuccessful and divorces involving narcissists must go to trial, for a judge to settle the issues between you.

Narcissists Must Control the Process

Divorce proceedings require a willingness to hear and follow legal advice, adherence to the rules, and compliance with court-ordered deadlines. A narcissist finds this difficult because they firmly believe their way is the only correct way. They must be in control at all times, and others must adhere to their preferred schedules and methods.

The inability to dictate how the process unfolds often makes a narcissist uncooperative and defensive. They may not listen to their attorney, refuse to produce documents, or miss deadlines. The attorneys on our family law team will aggressively combat these behaviors.

It is always preferable to settle matters out of court, but your attorney must inform the judge if your narcissistic spouse refuses to respect the legal process. The judge could hold your spouse in contempt and impose a punishment. Even if your spouse only receives a warning, the judge now knows that your spouse is trying to manipulate the proceedings. This awareness could impact the ruling on issues like alimony, property division, and child custody.

Why Narcissists Often Fail at Mediation

The divorce process is meant to foster negotiation and compromise. Many couples reach a settlement by working with each other and through their attorneys. When discussions fail to achieve an agreement, the Official Code of Georgia §19-5-1 allows judges to send a couple to mediation to resolve their outstanding issues. Many other jurisdictions have similar laws.

Mediation is a process where a highly trained third party, the mediator, tries to help the disputing parties hear each other and find common ground on which they can build a consensus. Mediation is highly effective in many situations, but often ineffective when one of the parties is a narcissist.

Mediation requires both parties to be willing to actively listen, which is a skill narcissists often lack. A mediator will address power imbalances between the parties and because narcissists must dominate and be in control, they do not respond constructively. Even when the mediation produces a settlement, it would not be unusual for a narcissist to repudiate it before it could be submitted to the court, forcing the divorce to a trial.

Engage an Aggressive Attorney When Divorcing a Narcissist

Expecting a divorce involving a narcissistic spouse to be resolved through a mediated settlement is unrealistic. It does happen occasionally, but not often. You must not anticipate a simple divorce when your spouse is a narcissist.

Protect yourself by working with an attorney who is capable and confident in handling a litigated divorce. Reach out to our office today to speak to a dedicated team member.

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