A divorce is normally a difficult life-changing event for most couples. In additional to the cost of the divorce, there is the added pressure of making crucial settlement decisions with your spouse. When your spouse has psychological issues such as narcissism, then the divorce process becomes far more challenging.
Typically, a narcissist finds it very difficult to maintain a long-term healthy marital relationship. Their spouse will end up appearing in a California divorce court, which turns out to be their worst nightmare.
A narcissist will normally seek to win any issues that arise in a family court at all cost. Nothing else matters than winning and they won't normally negotiate or compromise.
This immediately creates conflict because a divorce is all about negotiating and compromising an outcome that both spouses can live with.
A narcissist will frequently hang on to their emotions and use the divorce to hurt their spouse in many different ways.
Our Los Angeles divorce and family law lawyers are providing a more detailed information below.
What is Narcissism?
Narcissism is described as a personality disorder where someone has an excessive amount of self-esteem.
This is not just someone with a lot of self-confidence, rather it's a next level up excessive need for attention and approval from other people.
A narcissistic frequently inflicts damage on their relationships because they have:
- an annoying and inflated sense of self-worth; and
- no empathy or compassion for their partner.
In other words, it's all about them all the time and will eventually wear out even the most patient and caring spouse.
Symptoms of narcissism
Narcissism is a mental disorder where someone has a need for excessive attention and they often have a long history of broken relationships.
They are arrogant, entitled, self-righteous, dramatic, have unreasonable expectations and will not listen to advice or criticism. The most common symptoms of narcissism include:
- sense of entitlement,
- believe they are superior and look down on others,
- constant need for admiration,
- exaggerated sense of self-importance and achievements,
- take advantage of others to obtain what they want,
- inability to recognize needs or feelings of other people,
- control conservations and belittle others they think are inferior,
- arrogant, boastful, and conceited,
- want the best of everything, such as a car or home.
When you are seeking to divorce a narcissist spouse, it will often turn into a long and dramatic ordeal.
However, with knowledge and the right strategy, the divorce process can become easier. If you know what to expect, then you will have a better understanding on how to deal with your narcissist spouse.
What to Expect Divorcing a Spouse with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder
The narcissist in a divorce often chooses to use the divorce legal process as an opportunity to punish their spouse, such as:
- file unreasonable and frivolous motions in court;
- attempt to convince the court of their superiority;
- tell the court how bad their spouse treated them;
- make no attempt to reach a reasonable settlement;
- attempt to reopen arguments on any issue already settled;
- run up attorney fees to prove their argument;
- focus on maximum punishment on their spouse;
- aggressively fight a child custody battle.
A narcissist will make the divorce proceedings as complicated as possible. They will become more vindictive and spend excessively from shared accounts.
Child custody issues
A child custody battle with a narcissist spouse will typically be a nightmare as they consider “winning” more important than the best interest of their child.
In fact, they will use you children as a tool to get revenge against you.
Most narcissist don't put their child's well-being at the top of their priority list because it's all about them.
The will also often refuse to pay child support or spousal support that was ordered by the court. Further, the narcissist spouse doesn't believe they are the problem or have a mental illness.
Clearly, a narcissist can make a routine divorce process into a complicated proceeding.
Thus, you will need an experienced divorce lawyer who knows how to handle complex matters of a spouse with a mental illness.
Steps to Take to Divorce a Narcissist Spouse
An important step before letting your spouse know that you will be seeking a divorce is start documenting your marriage.
In other words, write down dates and details of mistreatment, abuse, domestic violence, main topics of conservation, and other relevant events that occurred during the relationship.
Keeping a written record of events are important because a narcissist spouse will typically start making false accusations once they realize you want a divorce.
While it's not always true that a spouse with a narcissistic personality will intentionally drag out the divorce proceedings, you should prepare for a hotly contested divorce.
You can start by letting your friends and family know there is a good chance your spouse will be making false allegations against you to cause as much pain as possible.
Tips to divorce a narcissist
Here are some additional useful tips to take in order to divorce your narcissist spouse:
- change passwords on email, social media, bank account, etc.;
- don't vent frustrations on social media;
- make a budget and open separate bank account;
- pursue domestic violence restraining order if necessary;
- keep communication with spouse at a minimum;
- pick your battles wisely on divorce settlements;
- make a list of priorities you are seeking in divorce;
- keep your divorce settlement expectations realistic;
- develop a child custody and visitation plan;
- consult and retain an experienced family law attorney.
Family Law Attorney for a California Divorce Case
Unless you retain an experienced family law lawyer, getting an agreement from your narcissist spouse on crucial matters will be almost impossible, such as:
- child custody,
- child support,
- spousal support (alimony),
- property division.
You need professional help to guide you through the California divorce proceedings in order to protect yourself from a spouse with a mental illness.
Once you retain a family law attorney, they can take care of all the communication with your spouse and expedite the divorce process as fast as possible.
You have to remember that a spouse with a narcissistic personality disorder doesn't care how long the divorce might take or how much it cost.
In other words, they rather make every step as difficult as possible as long as they “win” in the end.
Reaching reasonable divorce settlements terms in not their top priority and they will throw up roadblocks as often as possible.
Your lawyer can offer some divorce strategies such as mediation or arbitration rather than taking your case to a family court.
Our Certified Family Law Specialist with the State Bar of California might be able to negotiate a divorce settlement with your spouse so you can both avoid an expensive trial.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys that represent people in all Southern California courts from our LA County office at 15821 Ventura Blvd #690 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (818) 528-3471.