Tips for Divorcing a Narcissist
March 12, 2023
Why is It So Challenging to Divorce a Narcissist?
Living with a narcissist can be a terrible ordeal. Narcissistic abuse and gaslighting may harm your self-esteem and leave you with PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health issues. While removing yourself from the narcissist is crucial, getting a divorce from them can be highly difficult and emotionally draining.
Having a compassionate, experienced family law attorney by your side is essential to help you navigate the legal challenges the narcissist is likely to cause.
What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)?
NPD is a personality disorder characterized by a grandiose sense of superiority or entitlement, an inability to understand emotions or feel empathy, and a driving need for external validation. Narcissists often seek to control other people or situations to ensure that their needs are constantly met without regard for the feelings of others. They may use deceit and various tactics to manipulate others’ perceptions of them. While they may come off as “charming,” the narcissist can become unstable or violent if they believe they are losing control of the situation.
As you can imagine, these traits make it difficult to divorce a narcissist. They generally have little interest in negotiating the terms of a divorce, as they cannot handle the thought of “losing” or the appearance of failure. Narcissists may intentionally complicate the proceedings and often try to paint the other spouse as a bad person or terrible parent, which can be very painful. A skilled divorce attorney can help you counter these difficulties so you can successfully move on from the relationship.
What Steps Can You Take to Make a Divorce From a Narcissist Easier?
If you have lived with a narcissist, you have no illusions about how complex the divorce proceedings could be, and you may feel overwhelmed even thinking about it. Preparing yourself emotionally is a big step of the process, but there are other concrete actions you can take that can make the divorce easier:
Have a Plan
Before you even file for a divorce from a narcissist, it is vital to have a plan in place so they cannot sabotage you or prevent you from leaving. An experienced family law attorney can assist you with pre-divorce planning to help ensure you have critical documents and a financial plan in place before you leave.
Because a narcissist will try all possible avenues to keep control of the situation, it is wise to ensure that you have money set aside in a place inaccessible to them, so you are not financially dependent. Also, be certain you have records of all assets, such as bank accounts, vehicles, investments, properties, valuables, and more. Make copies of your important documents, including your passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and the last three years of your taxes, so they cannot be used as bargaining chips by the narcissist. Contact a divorce lawyer as soon as possible to begin planning and learn about other actions you should take before filing.
If you fear the narcissist may harm you or your children, create a safety plan before taking any other action. This may involve contacting a local women’s shelter for assistance or securing a restraining order.
Organize Your Records and Documents
A narcissist is usually not averse to lying or exaggerating, even under oath. Clear documentation can make defending yourself and supporting your side of the story easier. Keep detailed records of any contact your ex has with you, and always get agreements in writing with signatures. Even if you don’t usually track your expenditures, you should begin keeping receipts from the time you start the divorce process. Although it may feel like overkill, it is all part of protecting yourself from any false or malicious accusations your ex-spouse may make.
Create an Emotional Support System
Divorcing a narcissist may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Narcissists are focused on winning and will go to any lengths to reach their goals. They may try to destroy your friendships, family ties, and reputation, often while simultaneously love-bombing you and trying to win you back. To protect your mental health and well-being, you should put an emotional support system in place as soon as possible. Having trusted loved ones, professional therapists, and online or in-person divorce support groups to turn to can help you get through the challenging parts of your divorce.
A narcissist is likely to try to overstep your boundaries in an attempt to continue to control the situation, so it is critical to set solid limits as you begin the divorce process. End digital contact with your ex as soon as possible, including email and social media, and change any passwords they may know.
Unless you must continue to stay in contact as part of a co-parenting agreement, it is best to cease all communication except through your lawyer. Refraining from contact prevents the narcissist from twisting your words or causing you emotional distress that could result in outbursts that may harm your case.
Enlist the Help of a Strong Legal Team
When choosing a lawyer, be sure to inform them of the details of the situation and find out whether they have experience helping clients who are victims of narcissistic abuse. An experienced divorce attorney will understand the tactics your spouse will likely try to use in court and have strategies for countering them.
Choosing the right lawyer can make all the difference in your case. Your lawyer will be your strongest ally in your divorce and can help ease some of the stress of the divorce process. With their assistance, you can finally be free of the narcissist.