If you are married to a narcissist, the thought of going through a divorce proceeding may be worse than the thought of staying in the marriage. However, divorcing a narcissist is possible with the help of a talented divorce attorney. It also helps to know what to expect and learn some tips and tools to help you face your narcissistic spouse in family court.

What Can You Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist?

You can expect a fight. You can also expect your spouse to use every resource in their narcissistic toolbelt against you. 

Three things that you need to know about divorcing a narcissist are:

1.  Your Spouse Will Use Your Children

Nothing is off-limits when a person with a narcissistic personality disorder is fighting a battle. They will do anything to win. The ends always justify the means in their mind.

Your spouse will not hesitate to use your children as pawns in your divorce. Because your spouse is convinced that they know everything about parenting and is the perfect parent, co-parenting will be difficult, if not impossible. A narcissist cannot compromise and does not work well with people the narcissist presumes to be inferior (because you want a divorce, you are automatically inferior).

Be prepared for your spouse to engage in manipulation to turn your children against you. Parental alienation is a common tactic. Attempts to convince your spouse that you only want what is in the children’s best interest will fall on deaf ears. Your spouse is convinced that they are the only one that knows what is best for their children. 

2.  Mediation and Settlement Negotiations Will Likely Fail

The traits of a narcissistic personality make it difficult for a narcissist to settle disputes through mediation or negotiations. They believe that they never do anything wrong and cannot see other perspectives. They cannot allow for the possibility that someone could have a better solution.

A narcissist does not possess empathy or sympathy. Therefore, your spouse is unable to recognize that you have needs that must be considered in the divorce. A narcissist lacks the ability to resolve conflicts through compromise because compromise is considered a defeat.

3.  You May Be in for a Long, Expensive Court Battle

Your narcissistic spouse may drag out the court case for as long as possible if they believe they are losing. Losing is not an option. Also, being involved in a court battle gives a narcissist the chance to be the center of attention, and punishing you by dragging out the case is an added benefit. 

Each hearing is another chance for your narcissistic spouse to prove their ability to win. Do not expect your spouse to enter a marital settlement agreement. In many cases, spouses who are narcissists will take their chances in court instead of settling. They do not believe they will lose if the case goes to trial.

The battle may not end with your divorce decree. Your ex-spouse may try to take you back to court if they feel you “won” the divorce. Do not be surprised if your spouse appeals the judge’s decision or tries to petition the court to modify the final divorce decree or custody arrangement

Tips for Handling a Divorce Involving a Narcissistic Spouse

If you are divorcing a narcissist spouse, keep these things in mind:

  • You need an experienced divorce lawyer who understands the traits of a narcissist
  • Your spouse will spare no expense hiring the top divorce attorney in the state
  • Document all communications with your spouse in writing or by creating a log discussing the details of the conversation
  • Keep a log of all time you spend with your children and your spouse spends with your children (You want to show that your spouse lies about their involvement in your children’s lives or that you are being alienated from your children by your spouse.)
  • Do not allow your spouse to draw you into an argument or make you defend yourself 
  • Allow your attorney to do the talking in court unless you are testifying
  • Remain calm and appear sensible – you want the judge to see you as the responsible parent
  • Write a list of witnesses who can testify about your spouse’s narcissistic tendencies for your lawyer

Discuss your concerns with your divorce attorney as soon as they arise. Your attorney needs to know everything that is going on and all attempts by your spouse to cause trouble. 

Your lawyer understands how to use the evidence gathered to get your spouse to reveal their narcissistic traits in court.