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What to Consider When Divorcing a Narcissist


What to Consider When Divorcing a Narcissist

Filing for divorce can be one of the most stressful times in your life. If you’re ending your marriage to a narcissistic spouse, the stakes can feel significantly higher. From gaslighting to economic abuse, terminating a relationship with a narcissist can be tricky and intimidating, especially while navigating the unfamiliar legal terrain of family court proceedings. Fortunately, with the right legal counsel, there are various steps you can take to prepare for a narcissistic divorce.

In this blog, we’ll review what to consider when divorcing a narcissist and how to prepare for what lies ahead.

Recognizing Narcissism in Marriage

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder that requires a clinical diagnosis. Individuals with narcissistic tendencies tend to exhibit certain behaviors, such as extreme self-centeredness, a lack of empathy, a constant need for attention and admiration, manipulative behaviors, difficulties handling criticism or rejection, feelings of entitlement and superiority, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Recognizing the common signs of narcissistic abuse is critical to protecting your health and safety. In marriage, narcissism can take various forms, such as:

  • Gaslighting: This is a manipulative tactic that makes a person question their reality or memories. During a divorce, your spouse may gaslight you in an effort to make you question your own experiences and feelings.
  • High demand for control: Narcissists are highly controlling in their relationships. From being possessive at social outings to micromanaging your activities to unwarranted jealousy, narcissistic spouses often seek control over every aspect of the relationship to deprive partners of their autonomy.
  • Isolation: Narcissists often drive wedges between their spouse and any person who might recognize narcissistic abuse and take action by informing the victim, such as their family, friends, or coworkers. By restricting their partner to an echo chamber devoid of healthy behaviors, they can exude more control over their spouse while preventing them from leaving the abusive relationship.

While these behaviors can be difficult to recognize and address as the victimized spouse, it’s important to understand that it isn’t your fault. Narcissistic behaviors are intentional efforts to undermine your agency by violating boundaries, denying wrongdoing, and maintaining a high level of control at any cost. This can make narcissistic relationships difficult to navigate, let alone leave.

In the following section, we’ll discuss what you can do to safeguard your health against these actions and resist narcissistic abuse during your divorce.

3 Things Narcissists Do During Divorce (And What to Do About It)

In a narcissistic divorce, the split is often not amicable, despite your best efforts.

1. Narcissists refuse to compromise.

Narcissists hate to lose. Their desire to control and dominate the result of the divorce can lead them to dig in their heels and prolong the proceedings as much as possible, even when they know they can’t change the ultimate outcome. Often, narcissists perceive divorce as a battlefield where they must win at all costs. Given the stressful and emotional nature of non-narcissistic divorces, especially in matters involving child custody and child support, this narcissistic strategy can be emotionally exhausting and damaging to victimized spouses.

What Can I Do?

While drawn-out litigation may be inevitable in a narcissistic divorce, hiring the right attorney can make all the difference. It’s imperative to seek counsel from a divorce lawyer with experience in handling high-conflict divorces. A qualified attorney can leverage their specialized knowledge and skills to hold your partner accountable, keep the proceedings moving in a constructive direction, and ensure your legal rights are protected.

2. Narcissists try to manipulate the system.

As you’re probably aware, narcissists know how to turn on the charm when it suits them. Narcissistic partners often try to manipulate the system by focusing their charisma on judges, lawyers, and other involved parties to play the victim and convince the world they’ve been wronged. Unfortunately, this can also involve dragging their partner through the mud, whether by spewing lies, distorting facts, or denying accountability—whatever they can do to control the narrative.

What Can I Do?

While it may seem unfair, the best way to combat a narcissist’s immaturity and manipulation in divorce proceedings is to take the high road and keep your composure whenever possible. Narcissists act intentionally to entice a reaction or response from you, even when they appear focused on other parties. By refusing to play their game and withholding any type of emotional response to their behavior, you can minimize time in the courtroom and reach a divorce settlement as quickly as possible.

3. Narcissists blame others for everything.

Narcissists are incapable of taking responsibility for wrongdoing. Due to their entitlement and need for excessive admiration, they will often do everything possible to blame someone else. In a divorce, your partner may engage in deceitful and underhanded tactics to pin the blame on you and gain the sympathy and support of judges and attorneys. This is especially true if your narcissistic spouse feels threatened by you or their reputation.

What Can I Do?

The key to rising above the “blame game” during a narcissistic divorce is to document everything. Keep track of all communication and interactions with your partner, including any attempts they make to shift the responsibility onto you. Save copies of emails, texts, and voicemails, and document any incidents or behavior that can be used as evidence in court. By having a paper trail of their actions, you can counter their lies and protect your reputation. Your attorney can help you gather and present evidence as effectively as possible to secure a just outcome in your divorce.

Compassionate Counsel for Colorado Families

At Peek Goldstone, we understand the grueling emotional and financial impacts of divorce. From retaining your hard-earned assets to navigating the hurdles of family court, our family lawyers are here to guide your steps with wisdom and integrity. Since 1989, our Colorado attorneys have been dedicated to providing compassionate counsel to couples and families in life’s toughest seasons, empowering them to turn the page to a healthier, happier future. Whether you’re seeking a restraining order against an abusive spouse or seeking to resolve your marriage dissolution quietly in divorce mediation, our highly skilled advocates have many years of experience to navigate you toward the favorable outcome you deserve.

If you’re preparing for a Colorado divorce, you don’t have to do it alone. Call (970) 352-8611 to schedule a consultation with our experienced family lawyers.

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