In recent years there has been an explosion of cases in which there has been reference to Narcissistic Personality Disorder, known as NPD. Divorcing a narcissist can be an extremely challenging and complex process, both emotionally and legally.
Narcissists are individuals who have a grandiose sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, and an excessive need for admiration and attention. They can be manipulative, controlling, and sometimes abusive, which can make the divorce process even more difficult.
However, with the right support and approach, it is possible to divorce a narcissist and protect your mental health and well-being. Let’s look at how to divorce a narcissist, including the importance of friends and family, identifying red flags, finding a support group, and finding the right lawyer.
The first steps
The first step in divorcing a narcissist is to identify the red flags of narcissistic behaviour. Narcissists can be charming and charismatic at first, but they may also exhibit controlling behaviours, manipulation, and emotional abuse. It is important to recognise these warning signs and seek help as soon as possible.
One effective way to do this is to seek the support of friends and family members who are familiar with your situation. They can offer objective perspectives, emotional support, and practical assistance throughout the divorce process.
Dealing with a narcissistic spouse can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining, so it is crucial to prioritise your own needs and seek professional help if necessary. Joining a support group or seeking therapy can be beneficial in helping you manage your emotions, reduce stress, and gain a better understanding of the situation.
A narcissist will always try to ‘win’
Narcissists can be extremely difficult to deal with in court, and they may try to manipulate the legal system to their advantage. But as most people are aware there are no real winners or losers in divorce proceedings. The family courts in England and Wales always will try to arrive at an agreement which is seen as fair for both parties.
For someone suffering from narcissistic syndrome they will not see it like this. The whole process of the proceedings will be for them to win – or, more accurately, to make the other party lose.
The narcissist will invariably see themselves as the victim in any divorce proceedings, even if all the evidence suggests that it is their actions which have put them in this position in the first place. The truth appears to be whatever suits them most in order to win.
It is not that they are being dishonest with everyone else, it is that the truth is really only an ‘option’ for them. They can bend it without a second thought since their self-protection is the most important aspect of their being. This kind of belief can lead to extra marital affairs and problems with addiction.
Therefore, it is crucial to find a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with narcissistic spouses and who understands the nuances of the legal system. Your lawyer can help you protect your rights, negotiate a fair settlement, and advocate on your behalf in court.
The power game
Narcissists love to have total power. One aspect which they often will emphasise is to keep their opponents off balance just enough to give them a strategic advantage. They will often make false accusations in an attempt to play the system because they believe that they understand how things work so much better than their spouses.
It is important to gather evidence to support your case. Narcissists may deny or minimise their abusive behaviour, so it is crucial to document any incidents of emotional or physical abuse, harassment, or other problematic behaviours. This can include keeping a journal, saving emails or text messages, and seeking the support of witnesses who can corroborate your claims.
Once you recognise these kinds of behaviours, you will require the services of a divorce lawyer with experience of dealing with narcissists. They will be more than aware of the strategies used and will not be thrown off balance by stalling or other tactics used by the narcissist. They will know that regardless of what their motivations are, the narcissist simply needs to win.
Total lack of emotional empathy
If you are reading about how to divorce a narcissist, then there is a strong possibility that when being married to a narcissist, one of the issues you faced is that your partner may have displayed no emotional empathy.
They can appear cold and distant and show a total disregard for how anyone else is feeling. Their own feelings are all they will ever want to talk about. You may find yourself sharing a piece of very bad news and all the narcissist will want to talk about is how they feel about it.
This is a classic symptom of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and what is really unfortunate is how this total lack of emotional empathy can impact on the other party. Going through a divorce is for most people a very unsettling experience. For the narcissist, they will seem not to care how anyone else is feeling, not their spouse – or their children.
One of the main reasons that so many cases settle at an early stage is that most ‘normal people’ wish to consider the feelings of the other party, try to keep it civil and decide that they may go through mediation through lawyers to arrive at a sensible outcome. Not so for the narcissist, they will come at any divorce proceedings like a bull in a China shop.
They won’t consider how their actions will affect any future relationships, because in their mind they are 100% correct and therefore in court they would wish to prove that they are the victims, and it is their attackers that should be brought to heal and punished.
They can go about divorce proceedings like a military operation and are looking to decimate the enemy and leave no man standing on the battlefield. If you find yourself facing this kind of action, it is important that you discuss with your divorce lawyer tactics to deflate this, deflect or unsettle the narcissist to the extent that you are in control of the proceedings, not them.
The need to control
Taking a divorce through the courts will allow the narcissist to relinquish some of their control to the judge. This may seem counter intuitive. You have to remember that the narcissist must feel powerful. Accordingly, if there is an unfavourable decision to be made, they won’t take any responsibility for it. The chances are that they are psychologically incapable of doing so anyway.
Even more bizarre is that giving control over the courts can actually feel from the narcissist’s perspective that they are still in control. They can present the illusion of being in control to their spouse, all in an attempt to weaken their resolve and see them not just lose in the divorce but lose spectacularly.
All of this all speaks to their strategy. The narcissist may try to draw proceedings out mainly for the reasons referred to above, but also because it adds to their victory that their spouse will have to run up an expensive bill for their own divorce lawyers.
The narcissist will rarely negotiate. In their mind they are right, so by extension everyone else is wrong. They will attempt to smear the good name of their spouse in the process, and this can often extend to them offering up complete falsehoods to the court.
This is as a result of a number of specific patterns of behaviour. The first and most obvious is that their NPD has them seeing a different truth. To them they are not lying, they genuinely believe their accusations to be true.
The other reason is once an accusation is made, it is incumbent on the other party to prove that the accusation is not true, and doing so adds time and money to the entire divorce proceedings, hence another win for the narcissist.
So, how do you divorce a narcissist?
The first thing that you should do is to prepare yourself for an unpleasant and expensive process. It is important to stay focused on your goals and not allow the narcissistic spouse to manipulate or intimidate you. Narcissists can be skilled at gaslighting, a tactic where they try to make you doubt your own reality and sanity.
It is crucial to remain firm, assertive, and confident in your decisions and to seek the support of trusted friends and family members who can offer encouragement and guidance. You will need advice on how to deal with this narcissistic behaviour, so that it does not impact so much on your psyche or cause you to want to give up.
The process is not going to be pleasant, but with the right handholding, your lawyer can bat away all of the nonsense, tear it away back to its very centre and ensure that the courts concentrate on the correct core issues in the case.
Sometimes it is possible to negotiate from the prospective that the narcissist erroneously believes that they are winning in such negotiations. This takes very skilled and careful negotiation but can be achieved with the right lawyer.
Sometimes simply tit for tat behaviour will simply draw out the proceedings even longer and be more destructive. However, this is not always possible to avoid since the narcissist will try to draw everyone into their battlefield.
We should also point out that one other trait of a narcissist is even when they lose, they feel they have to win and may keep appealing decisions in the hope that they will get the right one in due course.
Again, it is very important for you to ensure that your lawyer makes clear to the court that this is the kind of conduct that will wipe out the assets and encourage the judge not to allow any further appeal since it is to be regarded as vexatious.
How we can help…
Dealing with a narcissist is very different from dealing with an ordinary spouse or partner. It is therefore vital that you ensure that a divorce solicitor has the skills to bring matters back to where they should be and not to stay stray into narcissist land.
If you recognise these patterns contact us so that we can guide you through the conduct and correct steps to take to protect you, your wellbeing and those of the children at a very difficult time in your life.
If you are wondering how to divorce a narcissist, our family lawyers are here to help. Get in touch today. To make an enquiry please fill in our form, call us on 0208 343 2998 or click to contact our divorce lawyers.