How Does A Narcissist Behave During A Divorce?

When divorcing a partner who tends toward extreme narcissism, you need to be prepared for drama, and a lot of it. This could very well be the fight of your life. Divorce to a narcissist, no matter who is at fault, is a personal attack on their feelings of power, their understanding of their social status, and their already very low sense of self. 

If you have filed for divorce, they may believe that you are out to embarrass them, steal from them, and genuinely make them look bad to the public. They will fight you at every turn to defend their honor, their money, and their reputation. Many people with this diagnosis

If it was the narcissist that filed, then that means you have done something horrible to them, something so bad that it can never be forgiven. Remember, they want to see you struggle and hurt because they aren’t able to show empathy towards anyone but themselves. They will see a potential divorce as an attack and react in kind. You must be the bigger person, or they may just get their way. 

What Hurdles May I Be Facing During The Divorce Process?

Divorcing a narcissist is just like putting a toddler in their big-boy (or big girl) bed for the first time. Be firm. Set boundaries and stick to them. Insist on a sort of distance that sends a silent message.

A narcissist prides themselves on their ability to manage another person’s emotions and manipulate any situation to their favor. If  you are on your way to divorcing a narcissist, you could face one, or many, of the following issues:

  • Anything, no matter how small, that you have said or done in your marriage, before your marriage, or during a separation can, and probably will, be used as some sort of ammunition against you in court. This is a tactic to manipulate and embarrass you. They want you to run away. Don’t. 
  • They will file countless motions, complain of numerous excuses, and do anything else that they can do to delay or disrupt the court proceedings. You can believe that they will work the system to their advantage as much as possible. They will never settle or compromise. They may hide money and assets from you. They could even try to set you up in some way, to make you look bad. 
  • They will do whatever it takes to be proven right and to win in any way. If for some reason they don’t come out on top, they will do their best to make every single other person they come across know that they are a victim and you are a predator. 
  • There is nothing holding them back from winning. They don’t feel guilty about anything they have done. They don’t worry about the repercussions others experience. If taking your child from you will hurt you, they may file for full custody, just because. 

Try not to speak to them outside of your lawyer’s presence unless you are co-parenting and need to discuss issues with the children. Keep any texts, letters, emails, etc. that they may have sent you during this process. Report any instances of threatening behavior to your attorney.

How Can You Beat A Narcissist In The Courtroom?

You can beat the narcissist in the courtroom by not falling into their traps. Consider this: You beat them by playing your game, instead of theirs. You beat them by winning your case, with class. 

  • Don’t engage with their manipulations. This means yes and no answers. This means no arguing, but this also means that you need to develop a poker face. If they think they can get to you, especially emotionally, then they will. 
  • Don’t stoop to their level. Stick to what is important and don’t throw the petty stuff back into their face. They are fighting a battle right now. That doesn’t mean you have to. 
  • Try your best to keep an eye out for their usual games and talk to your lawyer about what you notice.
  • Keep copies of everything. This means saving bank statements, receipts, stock reports, expenditures, and debts. They may forge documents and hide money.

An effective, well-researched, and firm divorce attorney, especially one with real-world experience navigating narcissistic divorces and their many ups and downs, will help your case tremendously.  

What Can Possible Occur After The Divorce?

Unfortunately, for many people leaving a narcissist, it doesn’t always end with a divorce decree. It is possible that your ex-spouse could continue to litigate or take you to court over minuscule things. They may also refuse to abide by the divorce decree when it comes to visitation with the children and any money granted to you in alimony, child support, or separation of assets. 

In fact, they could accuse you of something you would never do, or speak ill of you to your child to manipulate them. They will do whatever it takes to land in the spotlight and in a divorce, you are the target that must be defeated, not a person with feelings and a life of your own.

Protect yourself and ask for help. Find an attorney near you that understands your situation and will be there for you before, during, and even after the divorce is finalized.