How Do Narcissists Deal with Divorce?

You know your spouse is a narcissist, and for that very reason, you know your divorce is going to be more difficult than it should be. Due to the difficulties that come with a narcissistic spouse, some people stay married longer than they should. Once a decision has finally been made though, and so long as you know how narcissists deal with divorce, you will be prepared.

Common Questions About Narcissists and Divorce

As Chicago divorce attorneys, we have spent decades helping clients divorce narcissists. Here are answers to some of the common questions surrounding narcissists and divorce.

What exactly is a narcissist?

Since you have lived with your narcissist, you will recognize the signs. A narcissist is self-centered, more than the average person. This person will never admit that they are wrong, and they have to control everything. In a divorce case, we often have problems with narcissists handing over important documents and their version of the “truth” is often distorted. Since there is little to no compromise when dealing with a narcissist, you almost always have to take your case to trial. However, a good lawyer who is used to working with narcissists can steer the case to settlement. For that reason, hiring someone who knows how to deal with a narcissist is very important.

How is a divorce going to be any different knowing my spouse is a narcissist?

Going through a divorce is difficult enough, and when you know you are dealing with a narcissist, you have to change the strategy of getting the case finalized. First, you will often deal with emergency motions that stretch the truth, and typically those motions are orders of protection. You have to be prepared for that. Before the case even gets started though, tell your attorney about your spouse and that you believe they are a narcissist. You might not think it is important, but lawyers strategize to get you the best possible outcome. Knowing an important fact, like the fact that your spouse is a narcissist will help develop that strategy.

If I’ve decided to divorce, what should I do first?

Once you’ve decided to divorce know that going into the process, the truth will be distorted. Knowing that, make sure you have all of your facts lined up. If you purchased your house during the marriage with a loan from your parents, have that document handy, as you know there will be an argument that it was not really a loan, but a gift. Everything that you know to be the truth will suddenly be something you have to prove. Get your documents in line, all of your bank statements, all of your investment accounts, and make sure you have many years’ worth of these types of documents.

Settlement offers have been made and accepted, but then he keeps changing his mind. What should I do?

You’ve hired a divorce attorney and settlement offers have been made and accepted, but your spouse keeps changing his mind. This is what narcissists do. Knowing that, have everything documented and written on paper. Even when you have a signed document, a narcissist will try to argue that it is not an accurate document. To their core, there is a desire to keep you off balance and to make you feel like you are the one missing something. A clear record avoids that. And although your spouse may be a narcissist, the other lawyer will not like the game playing. A clear written record of what was said and the action plan, are essential to ending your case quickly.

Everything in my divorce is delayed, constantly. Is there anything I can do?

Nothing is more aggravating than a case that just drags on and on. Unfortunately, a lot of judges will allow this to happen, so it is imperative that you are prepared. First, make sure you are not the cause of the delay. It is hard for your attorney to complain about your spouse’s timeliness if you still have not done what you are supposed to do. Make sure your discovery is completed, organized, and updated. Delays happen when updates are not timely made as well.

When you go into court, know exactly what you will be asking for. Discuss the court date with your attorney to find out exactly what will be accomplished for the upcoming court date. You may not be able to chart the exact course of the litigation, but the case will move much more quickly if your lawyer is telling the judge where the case needs to go next. Delays are a narcissists’ best friend, so be ready to tell the court what needs to happen next so that the case does not stagnate.

If I have domestic violence or other abuse in my case, will it be any different if my spouse is a narcissist?

Of course, it will be. As always, if you suspect that your spouse will inflict abuse upon you, then the case should not be started with you in the house. An order of protection may be necessary, which would move your spouse from the house and not you. If you think you will need to leave the house, plan it. Make sure you have copies of all important paperwork. Remove anything from the house that you really care about, because it will not be there for you to receive it later. Take your pets with you, as you will unlikely see them again if you do not.

I will need child support and maintenance; will it be harder to get support when my spouse who makes most of the money is a narcissist?

Delay and control will please your spouse, so be prepared. Make sure your financial documents are in order and that your lawyer accepts no delays. There will be lies and intimidation, so do not back down and make sure that you are pushing the case forward.

Threats and intimidation will be what drives a narcissist, so be emotionally ready.

I cannot tell you how many times someone has called me crying because he told her, “I am going to make sure you never see the kids again,” or “if you don’t drop this case, I’m never going to pay you anything and you will never have enough money to fight me.” Some threaten to quit their jobs, and some actually do it. They cannot stand losing control and when you divorce them, that is exactly what is happening. Keep in mind that some narcissists will actually quit their job and force you into court to keep the fight going. The more prepared you are emotionally the better. Get a therapist and keep talking the problems out with professional guidance. Try and secure beneficial employment so you gain independence from your spouse. If the narcissist cannot scare you and intimidate you, they lose the fight.

What types of things will I see in court knowing my spouse is a narcissist?

Every case is different, but typically the spouse will make false allegations against you in an attempt to take custody from you, or if you have the children, they will refuse to pay child support. There will be lies about income and hiding of assets and/or money. Narcissists need to control you, so they will seek to delay the case, usually by not handing over their documents. Knowing what you will be dealing with and making the appropriate plans to thwart their tactics is essential.

Make a list of what you want out of the divorce and stick to it.

Do not let yourself be drawn into litigation about subjects where an agreement can be reached. In litigation, all too often people get into “litigation mode” and start fighting about everything. This is unnecessary. Do you really care who gets the George Forman Grill? Just because the other side wants to take every matter to the court, does not mean you need to then ramp up the case by being disagreeable. No one is counting each battle to see who the winner is, and most of the squabbles you’ll see are something where a middle ground exists. Most of the time I can find a middle ground for my clients, but when dealing with a narcissist, they keep moving the point of settlement. Clearly explain your position and what you will accept but be willing to move a little if you have to. It will depend on what the topic is of course but keeping a list of your most important topics on a list, will help keep you grounded.





When Everything Is On The Line, You Need An Attorney You Can Trust, That Will Advocate & Fight For Your Family! We Can Help!

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Anderson & Boback Family Law

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When Everything Is On The Line, You Need An Attorney You Can Trust, That Will Advocate & Fight For Your Family! We Can Help!

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