Divorcing a Narcissist

Posted by Nicole CritesAug 30, 20230 Comments

Does your spouse make you second guess yourself or your perception of events? Have you spent the majority of your marriage walking on eggshells? Does your spouse require constant admiration from everyone? Guess what: you may be married to a narcissist.

In divorce law, the term narcissist is used too liberally, with many clients and attorneys throwing the term around as if everyone is a “narcissist.” However, Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is extremely rare. Narcissism, like other personality traits, is simply a part of who people are. Everyone has some narcissistic qualities, but it becomes a disorder when these qualities affect your ability to maintain interpersonal relationships, especially relationships with your spouse and children. It is very difficult to ascertain exactly what percentage of the population suffers from NPD,especially since narcissists will not report that there is anything wrong with them, but most experts agree the number is as low as 0.5% and probably as high as 5% of the population. NPD more commonly affects men than women.

Unfortunately, if you are in a divorce nasty enough to require the services of an experienced litigator, chances are that someone in the marriage is suffering from a personality disorder. The two most common are NPD or BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). These disorders are comorbid, so if you have one, you are likely to have the other. In fact, these disorders fall into what is known as the Cluster B personality disorders since those people affected by them tend to be affected by more than one disorder in that cluster. For more information on this cluster of personality disorders, please visit the Mayo Clinic's page on Cluster B personality disorders, found here: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463.

Oftentimes, we get the questions “how long will this divorce take, and how much will it cost?” If you are divorcing a narcissist, the answer is usually, “as long and as expensive as they can make it.” This is why it is crucial to consult with an attorney who has a lot of experience litigating cases where one,or sometimes both, of the litigants have a personality disorder. A person with NPD will be insufferable. They will pick at you, and pick at you, and continue to pick at you until you explode, at which point they will pull out their phone, record you, and run to their attorney to say, “see! I told you my spouse was the crazy one.” If this is the kind of divorce you are going through, it is imperative that you bring this to your attorney's attention immediately so that they can file a Motion for Temporary Relief and ask the Court to order one of the parties to vacate the marital residence and figure out how the joint expenses,such as the mortgage, insurance, utilities, etc., will be paid while you await a final resolution of your divorce.

Many attorneys, like the ones at our firm, have had to learn quickly how to combat these personality types. At The Crites Firm, we understand that sometimes the Opposing Party is trying to get a rise out of you and push you into reacting so that they can use that against you. This is why client and case management are so critical when divorcing a narcissist; we know what they are doing and why they are doing it.

What to Expect:

Expect the narcissist to find the one thing you care about the most and demand that in the divorce. It may be the house that you selected and remodeled all on your own. It may be your art collection that you accumulated over the years through various trips that your spouse never wanted to go on. But most often, it is your children. A narcissist is the kind of person who allowed you to be the stay-at-home parent for 13 years while they worked and provided for the family who all of a sudden quits their job so that they can be home with the kids and fight you for primary custody of your children. These are the breadwinners turned stay-at-home parents who will do this in the middle of a divorce and then go to court and tell the judge how they never agreed with your parenting because your son got a B on his math assignment, and had they been the one home with your son, he would have gotten an A. They are the ones that have decided that, even though your children have always played softball, they never really liked it, and it is you who pushed them into it when in fact the kids wanted to play water polo, and only they, the savior parent, are attuned to your kids' needs.

Litigating against a narcissist is exhausting and expensive because the truth does not matter to them, only winning. Because of that, you have to come to court prepared to refute every single lie they will tell. It can be trying, which is why having an organized and experienced attorney like the ones at The Crites Firm is critical for success in these cases.

If you think your partner may be a narcissist and anticipate an ugly divorce, consult with our firm today before your case is too ugly and messy to be fixed.