What to Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist

man and woman arguing
Feb 6, 2024 | Content

It is tough to be married to a narcissist, but divorcing one is not easy either. Even when the narcissist wants the divorce, they are likely to make it as difficult for you as possible just to show they are in charge.

Knowing what to expect when divorcing a narcissist can help you get through this trying time. Working with an aggressive attorney who will push back against the narcissist’s intimidation tactics when necessary is critical.

Expect a High-Conflict Divorce—Prepare Accordingly

Many people strive for an amicable divorce, especially when the couple has children. Be warned that friendly divorces are an extreme rarity among narcissists.

Narcissists will use every chance they get to show you they are powerful. Whether that is “forgetting” to sign an important document, returning the children five hours late, or verbally abusing you in front of others, they chafe against requests that they behave in a certain way. Unfortunately, divorce proceedings require disclosures and deadlines that are likely to trigger a narcissist and bring out their worst qualities.

You can prepare by having a robust and dependable support system in place. Your lawyer is a powerful ally, but you also need friends, neighbors, and family members who will have your back and be there if you need a babysitter or a vent session over coffee or drinks. If you are not already seeing a counselor or therapist, try to find a mental health professional to help you process the narcissist’s behavior and cope with it.

Expect Lies—Have Proof

Narcissists like to rewrite history to make themselves the hero or the victim, depending on what serves them best in the moment. Because they are often intelligent and charming, they sometimes get away with their deceits.

You cannot control what the narcissist says. However, if you can prove what you say, it will not matter how the narcissist’s story goes over. You will have proof.

Your divorce attorney will brainstorm with you to try to anticipate the topics the narcissist is likely to lie about. You then must find as much evidence as you can demonstrating that your version of events is the truth. Witness statements and depositions can also be helpful in showing the narcissist is lying.

Expect Power Struggles—Try Not to Engage

A narcissist needs to be in control and the center of attention. They must win at all costs. In a divorce, a narcissist will oppose you at every turn, even if what you propose is what they want. They will use your children, money, or anything else you value to manipulate you into giving in to them.

Because narcissists often refuse to agree to reasonable compromises, their divorces do not settle quickly. A judge might order you to try mediation before scheduling a trial, but the narcissist will likely try to dominate the mediator and shoot down anything you suggest.

The best way to handle this is to let your attorney deal with it. Speaking to the narcissist, trying to placate them, or explaining how your proposal works to everyone’s benefit shows the narcissist they still have your attention. Your attorney can make sure the court knows about the narcissist’s conduct and could even ask the court to require the narcissist to pay your attorney’s fees.

Work With an Experienced Divorce Litigator When Your Spouse Is a Narcissist

Narcissists often do not care about the impact their actions have on other people. When your spouse is a narcissist, you will have to be strong, patient, and maintain excellent boundaries to get through the divorce.

Help yourself by working with an attorney who is comfortable fighting out a divorce in court. Although a hotly contested litigated divorce is never ideal, narcissists often make it necessary.

Work with a lawyer who can beat a narcissist at their own game. Call today.

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