How to Financially Strategize for Divorcing a Narcissist

couple at odds
Apr 8, 2024 | Content

Ending a marriage to a narcissist can be a huge relief, but it is likely to be a rollercoaster until the divorce is final. Even then, the narcissist is likely to try to maintain control over you. Money is one of their favorite weapons.

You must be proactive about protecting yourself financially if you are considering a divorce from someone with narcissistic tendencies. Speak with an attorney experienced in high-conflict divorce for advice on how to financially strategize for divorce with a narcissist.

Understand Your Financial Position

Narcissists need to be in control and they often manage the household finances. If that has been the case in your marriage, do your best to get an accurate picture of your financial position before you file for divorce.

Start making copies of tax returns, bank statements, mortgage documents, and credit card bills. Do not be surprised if you have more debt than you realized or if there are investments or accounts you did not know about. You have an interest in anything acquired by either of you during your marriage, so be sure to make copies of accounts and investments that are solely in your spouse’s name. Make a copy of your prenup or other marital agreement if you have one.

When you file for divorce each of you will make a financial disclosure.  Narcissists are notorious for filing incomplete, inaccurate, or blatantly fraudulent disclosures. Your attorney will pursue that problem in court, but you can protect yourself in the meantime by having as accurate a picture as possible of your true financial situation.

Try to Build a Cash Reserve

Narcissists often weaponize money during a divorce. They might cut off your access to bank accounts and leave you unable to manage your essential bills like food and utilities. It is smart to keep enough money on hand to pay your bills for a few months without relying on your spouse’s contributions.

Set up a bank account in your name only if possible, get a debit card, and do not share your password with your spouse. If necessary, send statements to a post office box or other address where your spouse cannot intercept them. Your spouse has a legal interest in the account if it contains money you acquired during the marriage, but you will disclose it when you file for divorce. Property division does not happen until the divorce decree is issued, so a private bank account could provide you with the necessary funds to live on during the divorce proceeding.

If you work, find out whether it is possible to take a loan against your 401k or if your employer offers an employee assistance plan that could be helpful. Reach out to one or two carefully chosen people in your circle and let them know you are considering leaving your spouse. Find out whether you can count on them for a loan, a place to stay temporarily, or other assistance should you need it when you leave.

Expect Fights Over Finances

Narcissists often submit inaccurate financial disclosures in the early stages of divorce proceedings. Your attorney will probably need to engage a forensic accountant to verify the disclosure and find hidden assets and debt, extending the duration of divorce proceedings.

Narcissists will resist directives from the court and might instruct their attorney to reject every request from your side, even when there is no legal justification. Delaying the proceedings and causing you as much inconvenience and agitation as possible is the narcissist’s only purpose. After the divorce is final, your narcissistic ex-spouse might be constantly late with child support or alimony payments.

Asking the narcissist to cooperate to complete the divorce, negotiate for the benefit of the children, or attend mediation or divorce counseling is almost always ineffective. Your attorney may have to be more aggressive than you like to protect your rights.

Work With an Aggressive Attorney When You Divorce a Narcissist

Many people who marry narcissists are natural peacekeepers. If that describes you, adjusting your attitude during your divorce will be necessary. A skilled divorce attorney can help you put yourself first, ensure you receive your fair share of the marital property, and advocate for your right to ongoing support if you have been financially dependent on your spouse.

They also can advise you on how to financially strategize for divorcing a narcissist. Get an experienced divorce litigator on your side early, preferably long before you file divorce papers. Reach out today.

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