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Divorcing a Narcissist: 7 Strategies to Help in the Legal Proceedings

28 May 2021

Every divorce comes with a different set of emotions and obstacles. However, the process can be particularly tiresome if you are divorcing a narcissist.

What is a Narcissist?

Being a narcissist is a personality disorder and there are lots of different extremes of this.  It is generally defined as having:

  • An inflated sense of own importance
  • An excessive admiration or interest in yourself

Therefore various studies have shown traits to include:

  • Being consumed by their own fantasies of success, power, brilliance and love
  • Having a big ego and feeling the need to be recognised as superior
  • Always believing they are right
  • Exaggerated accomplishments and talents, and seeking applaud for these
  • Believe that they are best at everything and believe that others should envy them
  • Control conversations and belittle others
  • Are unwilling or unable to recognise the needs and feelings of theirs
  • They feel entitled to succeed without putting in any effort or work
  • They will easily take advantage of others

 

Impact on Legal Proceedings

When you are separating from a narcissist it can be incredibly difficult to make progress on matters as every little matter will be fought as a big issue. This can have cost implications and increase the timeframe within which you resolve matters.

There are various small things you can do which can have huge benefits on your legal proceedings.

1. Focus on the Issues

In the legal process, and whether you are considering the divorce grounds, finances or arrangements to the children, it is important to remain focused on the issue and not be drawn into tit for tat allegations. This is because a narcissist loves to engage in arguments.

A narcissist will not accept their own fault in the breakdown of the marriage/relationship; therefore, it is important to walk away without the need to explain yourself and not feel the need to respond to every allegation/ paragraph in their correspondence which is solely sought to antagonise you.

Do not get drawn into their tactics. Be proactive as opposed to reactive, and focus on working towards the key things that you wish to resolve. This will help you manage your legal costs and the stress associated with the whole proceedings.

2. Create a barrier between you and your narcissistic spouse/partner

It will be very difficult for you to negotiate directly with a narcissist as they will seek to exert a level of control over you. It is, therefore, important to step away and seek a professional to create a barrier between you and the narcissistic spouse/partner.

3. Do not let them get a reaction from you.

It is very important to keep them at arm’s length because if they see that their behaviour is impacting you then they will continue with their harmful behaviour.  A narcissistic person will be driven by the desire to win however, family proceedings seek to act fairly and therefore do not get intimidated by their aggressive attitude with comments like ‘you will not get anything!’

Narcissists are particularly difficult when children are involved and will seek to utilise the children as a means of control. Therefore, it is important that the children are made to feel that they can talk to you freely without feeling that they are taking sides so that any red flag behaviour can be picked up.  When deciding matters for the children, again, do not get drawn into unnecessary arguments. There will times when the narcissist partner/spouse will not adhere to times or arrangements with the sole aim to exert their control. Do not get drawn into this and learn to let small issues go for the overall goal of peace of mind (provided always that the issues do not impact the safety of your children).  Keep your conversations and communications to a minimum.

4. Be mentally prepared

It is important to be able to identify when a narcissist is deflecting from their own actions and is seeking to lay the blame at your door. It is important to be mentally prepared for everything to be your fault.

5. Document everything

A narcissist will make you doubt yourself. With that in mind, it is important to keep a diary of key incidents or situations so that you know what you are feeling is not a one-off but has a pattern of behaviour.  It is also important to save every email and message so that you can rely on this. Prepays even keep a diary or journal to detail your emotions as a way of healing for yourself.

6. Pick your battles

A narcissist is unlikely to fully comply with court directions or procedures and in childcare arrangements, they are likely to flout the rules to exert their control. Therefore, when separating/divorcing from a narcissistic, decide which battles you wish to spend your time, money and energy on. Divorcing a narcissist can be very exhausting emotionally and financially therefore be prepared for a long battle. However, your focus should also be to remain on track and not to let the process get the better of you.

7. Research

A narcissist will often want to be in control so be prepared with information relating to your own financial position. Gather as much information from online resources so that you are aware of the process and do not get intimated by them to believe that you will not succeed in the divorce/separation process.

 

If you are struggling to make progress on matters then I would be happy to assist and you can email Hardeep Dhillon at hardeepdhillon@richardnelsonllp.co.uk or on 0333 888 4040.

Written by Hardeep Dhillon

Hardeep Dhillon is a consultant solicitor for Richard Nelson LLP. With over 10 years of experience, Hardeep specialises in family law with extensive experience in areas such as divorce, judicial separation and domestic violence.

Read more about Hardeep Dhillon.

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