Manipulation Tactics That Narcissists Use In Divorce

The Most Common Narcissistic Behaviors During Divorce

We all know someone who seems to find endless fault with others while holding a high self-opinion. That has a compulsive need to be the center of attention. That can’t take blame or criticism. You might even be unlucky enough to be married to someone that has these qualities. While not definitive enough to officially diagnose someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, these are telltale signs of this personality disorder that can cause severe difficulties in relationships. No matter how great your intentions were when first marrying this person, you’re probably here because the day has come that you can no longer bear your spouse’s behavior and actions. But if you’re married to a narcissist or someone who has narcissistic tendencies, don’t expect your divorce to be easy and amicable.

Our Phoenix divorce lawyers have years of experience, so we’ve dealt with problematic spouses during family law disputes. Below are some of the most common strategies and behaviors we see from narcissistic spouses during divorce. For your free consultation with an experienced Arizona family law attorney, call 480-833-8000.

Manipulation Tactics That Narcissists Use In Divorce

An Explosive Reaction To The News

Even if your narcissistic spouse acts like they hate you, they probably would still rather be the one to leave you than vice versa. It may not be so much about the pain of losing a spouse and an impending divorce but ultimately the rejection. You can expect the worst of your spouse’s angry and vindictive behaviors during arguments when they learn that you want a divorce. You may even want to have someone else present or let your spouse know some way other than in person if you fear they may become violent. Generally, you should do your best not to feed into your spouse’s anger and remain calm during the initial reaction to the news of divorce.

False Promises as Leverage In Negotiation

Even the most contentious divorce cases can settle out of court. The issues of property division, spousal maintenance, child support, and child custody can all be resolved, probably with some amount of compromise. So if you’re used to your spouse making empty promises and not following through, you might see this kind of behavior during your divorce as well. For example, your spouse may promise to forego spousal support if you add their name to the deed of one of your separate property assets. Once you do so, they pretend not to remember that conversation, and aggressively pursue sizable spousal maintenance with their divorce lawyer’s help. If you’re going to act on any divorce-related promises from your spouse, make sure they’re in writing.

Drama During Custody Exchanges

When it comes to divorce with children, it seems like common sense to put as little of that burden on them as possible. Narcissists just don’t seem to get it. Your child could be the only reason left you have to speak to your spouse, so custody changes provide an opportunity to cause the arguments that narcissists crave. Do your best to minimize the impact that any of your spouse’s antics have on your child during custody exchanges. You might even want to consider requesting supervised custody exchanges from the court. Here, you and your spouse would meet up at a neutral location and exchange your child under the supervision of an uninterested third party. Contact a Glendale divorce lawyer about how to obtain these orders and who would be responsible for paying for these services.

Attempts To Stop You From Breaking The Cycle

As mentioned above, narcissists are proud and don’t handle rejection well. Even if your spouse knows that your relationship will eventually end, they may try to convince you that they’ll change to get you to drop the divorce. Things might be different, but any changes you see in your spouse will only be temporary. You can bet that your spouse will be back to their old ways once they feel comfortable that you won’t resume the divorce proceedings.

Parental Alienation

For many couples, there are many reasons that child custody can be the most intense dispute to settle in divorce. Most parents simply love their children and want as much time with them as possible. But the amount of physical custody you have of your children plays into how much child support is due each month. Narcissists also view other people as tools for achieving their manipulative ends, including their own children. That’s why it isn’t uncommon for narcissistic parents to try to turn their children against their exes after a divorce. They may tell children information they are too young to hear, or even information that is untrue. When one parent brainwashes the child into hating the other parent, that is known as “parental alienation.” The other parent can also commit parental alienation by refusing to have the child attend scheduled phone calls and visits. This is disapproved of by family law judges, who may consider this as a factor during custody modification hearings. Hold onto any evidence of parental alienation and show it to your family law attorney as soon as possible.

Lies About Documented Events

A narcissist is likely to cause issues when there aren’t any, at any time, and especially during a divorce. Whether it’s a doorbell camera, text messages, emails, or even a self-written journal describing altercations between you and your ex, this is all evidence that can be used to support you during a divorce. Evidence like this is crucial if your spouse requests an order of protection or is trying to obtain sole custody of your child.

Aggressive Pursuit of Every Issue

Your narcissistic spouse probably believes they are due everything and want everything possible in the divorce, despite how Arizona’s community property laws work. Your spouse might also find a disreputable divorce lawyer who is willing to ignore those laws as well. Those lawyers may hire private investigators, forensic accountants, etc., and then try to put you on the hook for legal fees. Hiring your own legal advocate may feel expensive, but save you time, energy, and a significant amount of money in the long haul. Narcissists won’t want to cede on any issue, which could mean you losing out on your fair share to marital property, time with your children, and post-divorce income. A knowledgeable, assertive family law attorney can help guide disputes surrounding property division, spousal support, child support, and child custody towards being resolved in a way that’s amenable to you.

Whether or not your spouse has been diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder by a mental health professional, these kinds of behaviors are why you should consider hiring a family law attorney to represent you through your divorce. A family law attorney should be well-versed in your rights when it comes to going through a divorce in Arizona and be able to identify and respond to your spouse’s schemes. Having a family law attorney gives you the option to never speak to your spouse alone throughout the divorce besides co-parenting communications. At AZ Family Law Lawyers, we have the experience to make you comfortable throughout the process and get you the ideal results for your family. We offer affordable rates with payment plan options to make family law representation more available to residents of Phoenix, Tucson, and more. Call 480-833-8000 to get started with your free consultation.


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