Divorcing A Narcissist

Arizona Family Law Attorneys Discuss Filing For Divorce From Someone With Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Divorcing a Narcissist, isn’t always what it seems to be.  Plus, is often not all that easy.

While you may casually refer to a self-absorbed, arrogant person as “narcissistic,” some people actually have a psychological condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Narcissists are known for a constant need for attention, an exaggerated sense of self importance and arrogance, and an inability to empathize with others. Narcissists may have a hard time holding down a job, maintaining relationships, and struggle in other areas of life. However, they can also be manipulative and charming, which can result in financial success and a wide social circle.

Stressed Out Woman Filing A Divorce From Her Narcissistic Spouse With Arizona Family Law Attorneys

How To Identify Narcissistic Behavior

Narcissism can present itself in unique ways in different people, but some behaviors and traits tend to be shared by people with narcissistic personality disorder. An inability to empathize and understand the viewpoint of others is a telltale sign of narcissism. Your spouse may always need to feel superior to others and exert authority over them. They feel they are entitled to this respect, and will usually describe themselves as the victim in all interpersonal conflicts.

Like most psychological and personality disorders, NPD is caused by some combination of nature and nurture. It is postulated that parental abuse and neglect can give way to narcissism, while the opposite end of the parenting spectrum, spoiling and overindulging the child, can contribute to narcissism as well. Outlandish expectations from parents, as well as cultural and societal factors, can make a child more likely to be a narcissistic adult. There is no clear cut cure for narcissism, but talk therapy can help. Unfortunately, narcissists often view seeking mental health treatment as a sign of weakness, and are predisposed to avoid it due to their pride.

Strategies For Divorcing A Narcissist

  • Make sure you have copies of important documents somewhere secure.

    Narcissists are experts at gaslighting and manipulation, and some aren’t above destroying evidence of reality. Without proof, it could end up being your word against that of your narcissistic spouse. Keeping track of expenditures during your divorce can also protect you from your spouse purposefully draining your joint accounts.

  • Be firm with your final decision.

    If you are the one initiating the divorce, your spouse may beg for one more chance and promise to change. This is unlikely to happen, especially if your spouse has made similar promises in the past. Your spouse may try a technique known as “love bombing”- showering you with gifts, attention, and praise in an attempt to win you back, simply to revert to the same old behavior once you have stayed. Don’t be surprised if your spouse suddenly faces a barrage of family emergencies and medical issues to try to guilt you into staying.

  • Create boundaries and make space.

    Sometimes, it isn’t possible to move out of the marital home during a divorce. If you have children with your spouse, you will need to have at least minimal communication in order to effectively co-parent. However, you should create boundaries and limitations for your ex. For example, you may ask your ex to only contact you in regards to your shared children. If you are required to stay in close proximity with your ex during your divorce, get creative to give yourself privacy and space from your ex.

  • Find ways to let your ex win. 

    Narcissists love to win, and divorce is no exception. Identify the areas you’re most willing to compromise on. Maybe there is a community property vehicle you don’t like, or other marital assets you don’t care for much. If you let your spouse feel like they are taking you to the cleaners on unimportant issues, they may care less when you move onto the issues you actually care about.

  • Keep your children’s well being in mind.

    You will have an additional obstacle to overcome if you share minor children with your narcissistic spouse. The stress of a divorce and custody battle can remain with your children for years to come, and cause developmental issues and resentment. It will take careful restraint when divorcing a narcissist to avoid fighting with your ex in front of the children, avoid badmouthing your ex to your children, and generally make the divorce as easy on them as possible. Narcissists use people by nature, so don’t let your ex use your children as weapons in the divorce.

  • Log out of your accounts and change your passwords.

    Whether digging for information, or trying to publicly humiliate you, your ex may check to see if they can still access your accounts. Before initiating divorce proceedings, you should log out of accounts on shared devices and change the passwords to your accounts that your ex knows. You may even want to check if there are trackers installed in your car, phone, or other devices.

  • Remember to take time for yourself.

    Being married to a narcissist is stressful in itself, and divorcing from one is even more so. Try to devote some of your free time to activities and hobbies that make you happy and help you relax. You may want to consider therapy for yourself and your children to begin healing from your toxic relationship. You should take this important time for yourself before beginning a new romantic relationship.

Steps To Divorcing A Self-Centered Husband Or Wife

  1. Take steps to be discreet while preparing for divorce.

    Upon catching wind of you filing divorce, your spouse may attempt to convince you to stay, drain your bank accounts, destroy your reputation with friends, or even become violent. You may need to ask your attorney to only communicate by text or email.

  2. Start building a support system and safety net for yourself.

    It may help you to tell your friends or relatives about what’s going on with your spouse. Fostering relationships that may be distant due to your spouse’s manipulation can be an important part of healing from a relationship with a narcissist. A therapist or support group may also help you find the emotional strength to leave your marriage. This may also mean cutting off people who don’t support your decision and pick your spouse’s side.  These are tough choices, there will be several as you navigate divorcing a narcissist.

  3. Make your divorce plan with your Mesa Family Law Attorney.

    In less toxic relationships, it may be favorable to discuss divorce with your spouse before consulting with legal professionals. This is rarely the case when at least one spouse is a narcissist. If you inform your spouse of your intention to file for divorce before strategizing with a divorce lawyer, your spouse may try to scare you with incorrect information about state laws and court procedures. A family law attorney will make sure you are fully informed of your rights, and review communications with your spouse to make sure all information is accurate.

  4. Keep everything documented once the divorce process has started.

    This will help you keep track of everything both of you have said, without your ex trying to distort reality by lying about the past. You should provide your lawyer with this documentation, but you should screen it before doing so. Divorce attorneys work on an hourly basis, so including petty and insignificant arguments will only waste time and money.

  5. Maintain your composure during all interactions with your ex, especially court appearances.

    Because your ex is most likely skilled in manipulation, they may be able to goad you into losing your temper in front of the judge. It is difficult to change judges in Arizona family law matters, so you may permanently damage the judge’s impression of you. If minor children are involved, avoiding combativeness with your ex will make the divorce transition process easier for them as well.

  6. Buckle in for a long ride.

    Some divorces are finalized quickly and smoothly because both spouses just want to get on with their lives. If you are married to a narcissist, they will probably view it as a final battle to win against you. Mediation and other collaborative processes meant to speed up and demilitarize divorces probably won’t work when one or both spouses are narcissistic. You should prepare yourself for months, or even years, of constant motions, negotiations, and hearings.

Narcissistic Traits Of A Spouse Include:

  • Delusions of grandeur.
  • A need to constantly be the center of attention.
  • Master of manipulation.
  • A sense of superiority over others.
  • Extreme jealousy of others, coupled with a belief that others are jealous of them.
  • A belief that rules and laws don’t apply to them because they are special.
  • Lack of empathy for others.
  • Excessive anger when things don’t go their way.
  • Promiscuity is often associated with narcissism.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Narcissist Spouses)

Our Arizona Family Lawyers Answer The Most Asked Questions Concerning Narcissists.  Many people believe that they are married to a narcissist, though the actual diagnosed numbers run far lower (around 6%) than people believe.  There is no doubt that many spouses over time may seem to have narcissistic behaviors.  These spouses may become quite a handful to deal with of the course of a marriage.

What Is A Narcissist?

A Narcissist is someone who has a psychological condition known as narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are extremely preoccupied with themselves, to the extent it causes serious issues in relationships, at work, and more. Narcissists love to be put on a pedestal, and to feel a sense of superiority and authority over others. They may hold beliefs about themselves and the world around them that are self-serving, even delusional. A narcissist never believes they are wrong, and knows how to turn on the charm and manipulate others.

How Do You Know If You Are Married To A Narcissist?

The fact that you even clicked on this article shows there is a good chance you are married to a narcissist. You were probably first intrigued and charmed by your spouse’s personality, but now you can see how that is all part of the manipulation. If your spouse exhibits all of the personality traits described above, and goes into a narcissistic rage when angry or called out on their behaviors, the chances are even greater. Unless your spouse sees a mental health professional who diagnoses them with NPD, you will need to use your best judgment to determine if you are dealing with a narcissist.

What Percentage Of People Are Narcissists?

Surprisingly, it is estimated that between 0.5% and 1% of the population have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. An estimated 2-16% of people who seek mental health treatment are narcissists. Therefore, keep in mind, even if your spouse may have a lot of narcissistic traits, chances of them being a diagnosed narcissist are not high.

How Do Narcissists Deal With Divorce?

Narcissists like to feel adored and like they are in control. Being served with divorce paperwork can be the ultimate insult to a narcissist’s ego. You can expect an explosive argument if you are the one who makes the ultimate decision to divorce. Leaving can be the most dangerous part of an abusive relationship, so make sure you have a support system ready when you leave.

Are Narcissists Jealous When You Move On?

Your narcissistic ex will probably be jealous or at least angry when you move on, as this conflicts with their belief that they are impossible to get over. Don’t be surprised if your ex even tries to interfere with your new relationship. However, your ex will probably be just as concerned with finding someone to replace you.

Are All Men Narcissists, Or Can Women Be Narcissists Too?

Narcissism presents itself in both men and women. However, narcissism is shown to be at least slightly more common in men than in women. Narcissism only affects a small percentage of the population, but 50-75% of those people are men.

Do Narcissists Usually End Up Alone?

Narcissists are manipulative and charming, so they will usually find someone to take your place once your relationship is officially over. Whether that next relationship lasts depends on the new partner’s personality, as well as if your ex seeks treatment for their narcissistic behavior.

How Can Your Arizona Family Lawyer Protect You When Divorcing A Narcissist?

If you are divorcing a narcissist, it can be vital that you have a legal advocate who is knowledgeable about Arizona family laws, and who refuses to fall victim to your ex’s charms and manipulation. Negotiations and other legal communications must go through your attorney, without the risk of distortion by your ex. New or aggressive attorneys may use tactics that actually draw out the divorce process and cost you thousands in legal fees. An experienced family law attorney in Glendale will know how to handle divorces with different personality types, including narcissistic personalities. This will allow you to focus on yourself and your children after your divorce, and move forward sooner.

Contact Experienced Divorce Attorneys In Arizona

A divorce from a narcissist must be carefully planned. To learn more about how a Mesa family lawyer can protect you, and to begin your divorce strategy, call the divorce team at My AZ Lawyers today. Your initial consultation is free, and our attorneys offer payment plans to work with your budget. To get started, call (480) 833-8000 to schedule your free appointment.

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Disclaimer: The information in this Arizona Family blog is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. Therefore, no information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from My Arizona Lawyers, My AZ Lawyers, or Arizona Family Law Lawyers or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction. (Justia)



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