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Maintaining Leverage in a Divorce with a Narcissist
Atlanta Divorce Law Group
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A lot of times, when someone is going to get divorced from a narcissist, they know it’s going to be a battle. There’s a lot of information out there about how it’s going to be high-conflict and difficult.
Narcissists crave power and always have a plan to gain the upper hand in every aspect of their life, including marriage. The need for control is part of their ‘narcissistic supply,’ defined as anything that feeds their ego. This supply can include relatively normal wants, such as money, compliments, or success. However, narcissism can also lead to more sinister actions, including partner intimidation, verbal threats, or even physical assault.
What I think people don’t understand is that it can be a situation where they end up getting what they want out of it – but they have to be strategic. You don’t want to just get a “bulldog” attorney who’s going to go into court and fight, fight, fight. Your legal counsel needs to be very smart and deliberate in the moves they make.
If you are divorcing a narcissist in Georgia, leverage is the most important aspect in successfully navigating negotiations or family courtroom battles. Dedicated legal support can secure a sense of authority to put you in an offensive rather than defensive position. Contact our firm for help maintaining leverage in a divorce with a narcissist.
What is Leverage in a Divorce?
Simply put, leverage is the power to influence people and get what you want. In a divorce with a narcissist, this influence may be crucial in maintaining control of the divorce process and motivating your ex-spouse to negotiate with you. Leverage can be gained in various ways.
A savvy attorney can work with a Georgia resident on a tailored strategy to maintain leverage against their narcissistic partner in a divorce.
Pick Your Priority
As long as you know what your number one priority is, what you want out of this divorce, what your life might look like when this divorce is finished, we can get you to that place. However, we need to know what your spouse’s supply is, because we’re going to use that as a bargaining chip going forward.
In a high conflict divorce, you actually don’t want a bulldog attorney. You want a fox. The reason for that is the fox can actually plan and strategize ahead of what’s to come and even let go of some smaller battles to win the bigger war.
Being very clear on what it is you want from the divorce can help you strategize how to be a fox in the game against what the narcissist wants. Narcissists are going to take what’s dear to you and wave it around you like a carrot, because they feed off of the drama, and this process feeds their high-conflict personality.
Know Your Narcissist
Narcissism is a spectrum, like a lot of different disorders. You’re going to have sociopaths on one end, with just some narcissistic tendencies or habits on the other end. You need to know your narcissist to strategically divorce them. What is their currency? What do they value? What gives them worth? One thing that all narcissists have in common, on the entire spectrum, is that there are things they need to get supply.
Identify the Narcissistic Supply
To effectively maintain leverage, it is important to assess where your ex-spouse receives their narcissistic supply. Once you are aware of what they really want and will go to any lengths to get, you will be better prepared to control the terms of your divorce.
For example, a narcissist who needs constant admiration from others will often seek out ostentatious personal possessions to support their inflated sense of self-worth. In this scenario, leverage could be gained by jeopardizing their access to certain property. This could be achieved by asking the Georgia court to order the sale of these items, rather than allowing your spouse to keep them. If the narcissist is aware that you have some control over the disposition of their property, they may be more open to negotiation and a fair resolution of the divorce.
For instance, let’s say a husband and wife had a beach house together, and that beach house provided the husband with a lot of self-worth. It was something that made him feel important. But the wife wants custody of the kids. She could care less about the beach house.
If she wants full custody of the children, we would immediately demand that beach house upon entering mediation. By the end, we may be able to get the custody arrangement that she wants, and he would get the beach house.
There’s always something that the narcissistic spouse values, whether that’s their house, car, country club membership, investment accounts, etc. So, you have to decide what their currency is, what gives them value and self-worth, so that they can appear successful and important to other people.
What if My Narcissistic Spouse Wants the Same Thing as Me?
If your number one goal is the same as the narcissist spouse’s number one goal, it’s important to keep in mind that a true narcissist doesn’t value anyone but themselves. When you, the non-narcissistic spouse, decide that your number one goal is primary custody of the children, , and the narcissist spouse decides that they also want primary custody,, they probably don’t really value the children. There may be something about the children that appeals to them.
You know your spouse better than anyone. If they are seeking primary custody we need to ascertain why, apart from trying to hurt you. If their supply really is the children, not just an attempt to win, figure out what it is about the experience with the children that they’re really drawn to. More often than not, it’s not the actual children – it’s something that the children bring to them.
Control the Georgia Court Process
In a court setting, narcissists often feed their egos by violating court orders, ignoring courtroom procedures, and refusing to disclose financial information. In this case, whatever you can do to force their compliance with the Georgia court process becomes your leverage.
One tactic may be requesting that a judge sanction your narcissistic spouse for their noncompliance, including payment of your legal fees. If your spouse is financially penalized for their disobedient behavior, they may be less inclined to continue litigating the divorce and more open to compromise.
Do Not Let the Narcissist Control You
In addition to demanding legal compliance, you must stand up against your ex-spouse to maintain control of yourself. Because narcissists gain a sense of importance from criticizing, demeaning, or devaluing you, whatever you do to inhibit those behaviors and assert your self-worth will help you maintain leverage in the divorce. Work with an attorney who can aggressively represent your interests and prevent the narcissist from dominating the divorce process.
Consult a Persistent Attorney to Maintain Leverage in a Divorce with a Narcissist
It is important to remember that for most reasonable people, ‘winning’ in a divorce is generally receiving what is fair and moving on with their lives. For a narcissist, this is not always true. Narcissists want to fight and may consider ‘winning’ to be manipulating and terrorizing you. As such, building leverage and using it when necessary is the best way to effectively manage your divorce.
Divorce is already a difficult process. A narcissistic ex-spouse can make the entire experience even more challenging. Before you file for divorce, take the appropriate amount of time to prepare yourself by aligning yourself with a skilled attorney. Our law firm has experience maintaining leverage in divorces with narcissists, and one of our lawyers can help you identify what is feeding your spouse’s ego and cut off that supply. Call today to regain control of your divorce.
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