How to Finalize a Divorce with a Narcissistic Spouse

There is no way to sugarcoat this — obtaining a divorce from a narcissist will be hell.  Narcissists have a grandiose sense of self-importance.  They believe they are special and the rules do not apply to them.  They have a sense of entitlement, a lack of empathy, unrealistic expectations, and will be overly defensive.  A narcissist may refuse to listen to their lawyer, provide financial information, or obey court orders.  For these reasons, it may be nearly impossible to negotiate a fair settlement.  The divorce will likely be an expensive, lengthy, drawn-out fight that can only be finalized with a trial.

Hire an Attorney!

The first thing you should do when divorcing a narcissistic spouse is get an attorney!  Do not even think of going through the divorce without one.  When hiring an attorney, find an experienced divorce attorney who has trial experience Do not hire an overly aggressive shark.  This will only fan the flames and make the divorce much more expensive ($$$$).  If your ex has been  abusive, you may want to find an attorney experienced in dealing with emotional abuse.

Prioritize Your Goals & Pick Your Battles

When dealing with a narcissistic spouse, you want to prioritize your goals and pick your battles carefully.  Fighting over every little thing will drive up the cost of the divorce and it will become emotionally draining.  Sometimes it is better to let them win a round or two, especially if what they are winning is not your priority.

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At times the divorce process will get ugly, but you need to try and keep your emotions in check.  This can be very difficult if your ex is bullying you or is playing the victim.  If you get too emotional, your ex may try and use that against you, painting you as “unstable.”

Limit Contact with Your Ex

During the divorce, you should limit your contact with your ex as much as possible.  This will minimize the likelihood of you getting emotional.  If you do need to contact your ex, the best method is via email.  Email allows you to carefully consider a response before you hit send.  It is a good idea to wait at least 24 hours before responding to an emotionally charged email.  Email also allows you to document everything.  If you ex becomes manipulative, cruel, or flat out lies, you have a record of what he/she said.

Use Your Support System

Because a divorce from a narcissist can be emotionally draining, it is important that your have a support system in place.  This can include a therapist (you will probably need one to get through the divorce), family, and friends.  Make sure you take care of yourself- eat properly, get sleep, and exorcise regularly.

Most divorces involving a narcissistic spouse can only be finalized with a divorce trial.  The trial may be years after the initial divorce filing.  A trial will be the best way to finish the divorce, especially if your ex has been unwilling to negotiate and has been asking for unreasonable demands.  Most judges will not look favorably on someone who makes outrageous requests, so you may “win” in the end.

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California Divorce Quick Start Guide by Kym Morris, Esq.
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