Divorcing a Narcissist?

Goodman Law Firm, LLC gives three tips to help successfully divorce a narcissist.
  • Jul 12 2019

Are you married to a narcissist? You know the type. They tend to think the world revolves around themselves. They may be self-centered, arrogant, manipulative, and demanding. Sharing your life with them may be challenging, but going through a divorce with them may test the patience and resolve of the strongest of people. Before you resign yourself to a lifetime of dealing with a self-absorbed, temperamental spouse, talk to an Illinois divorce attorney. There are steps you can take to minimize the stress, hostility, and anxiety that can arise during a divorce from a narcissist.

Three Tips for Successfully Divorcing a Narcissist

Whether your spouse has been diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) or simply displays characteristics associated with narcissism, keeping these tips in mind can make the divorce process easier and less stressful for you.

1. Surround Yourself with a Solid Support System

Surround yourself with professionals and a strong support system before you notify your spouse you want a divorce. You and your children can benefit from a solid team of divorce professionals who can provide support, guidance, and legal advice. 

A therapist should be the first member of your support team.  A therapist has experience in dealing with difficult personality types and can be invaluable in assisting you through your divorce with as little stress as possible.   While the support of friends and family may waiver if your divorce is drawn out, a therapist will remain patient, tolerant, and supportive at each step.  

You may also want to consider a divorce coach. Dealing with a narcissist in a normal situation can be challenging, and doing so during a divorce can be maddening. A divorce coach is typically a counselor or therapist that focuses their practice on helping individuals going through a divorce.  A good divorce coach should have a basic understanding of the legal system and specific issues you need to resolve at each step in the divorce process

Gather your closest friends and family around you to provide support before, during, and after your divorce. Your spouse may attempt to turn family and friends against you during the divorce. Make sure they are aware of the situation so they can provide the best possible support to you and your child during this period in your life. 

2. Assume Your Spouse Will Be Unreasonable

While it is always helpful to maintain a positive outlook, steeling yourself for less-ideal situations can soften the emotional lows that may happen when your spouse behaves irrationally, or even maliciously.

Your spouse may try to reason with you and “work things out” at first, but the cooperative and amicable phase may be short-lived. Therefore, you need a plan in place to protect records and assets before your spouse learns of the divorce. Before you announce your intention to seek a divorce, make copies of important records, regardless of whether the asset is joint or separate. Narcissists tend to be unreasonable.  They may destroy records or produce false records if it benefits them.

Try to obtain copies of tax returns, bank records, credit statements, marital agreements, etc. You need to remove and secure your original documents and your child’s original documents, such as your passport, birth certificate, Social Security card, life insurance policies, and financial documents. If you cannot find or get access to the documents, get as much information as possible. Your attorney can request the necessary documents during the discovery phase of your case. 

Begin documenting everything you can in writing because you cannot assume your narcissistic spouse will tell the truth in court. After your spouse knows about the divorce, communicate in writing as much as possible.

3. Minimize Contact with your Spouse

A narcissistic spouse likely knows how to provoke you and push your buttons. Resist the urge to engage. Instead, let your attorney be the primary (and ideally only) point of contact. Narcissists can be infuriatingly persistent. Be firm and clear with your spouse from the beginning, and tell them that you won’t be making any decisions or agreements until you have discussed the issue with your lawyer.  Further, advise your spouse that your lawyer will communicate your position or decision. Once your spouse hears this response enough times, they should get the message and stop communicating directly with you.

Of course, it can be difficult or impossible to avoid your spouse if you continue to reside in the same home and/or co-parent children. Even in these circumstances, however, it is possible to minimize contact.  A knowledgeable divorce attorney will have suggestions on how to avoid engaging your spouse even when you reside in the same home.  

Contact an Illinois Divorce Attorney for Help

Your first step in deciding to divorce is to contact an Illinois divorce law attorney. The sooner you gain experienced legal counsel when dealing with a narcissistic spouse, the better prepared you are for what lies ahead. Contact the Illinois divorce attorneys at the Goodman Law Firm to discuss your legal options when it comes to divorce.

Posted in: Divorce