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Divorcing a Narcissist

high conflict divorce for a dad with a narcissistic spouse

How Dads Can Address Issues Involving a Narcissistic Spouse

The divorce process can be difficult, especially when there are high levels of conflict between you and your spouse. Your divorce may become especially contentious if your spouse is a narcissist, meaning that they lack empathy for others, do not accept responsibility for their actions, and focus primarily on their own desires without considering other people's needs. In this type of situation, you'll want to be sure to understand your rights, and by working with an experienced divorce attorney, you can determine the best ways to resolve conflicts and reach a positive outcome to your case.

How Will a Narcissistic Spouse Act During Divorce?

Narcissism typically involves feelings of entitlement and self-importance, coupled with a lack of consideration for how one's actions affect others. Narcissists can also be very manipulative and controlling, and they will often have unreasonable expectations about how they should be treated. If your spouse is a narcissist, she will probably pursue her own desires single-mindedly during the divorce process while refusing to consider your needs or what is best for your children. She may do everything she can to manipulate you, the court system, and your friends and family members, including lying about financial issues, filing "emergency" motions, or even making false accusations of abuse.

Protecting Your Rights When Divorcing a Narcissist

Because your ex is likely to do everything she can to get her way during the divorce process, you need to be prepared to respond assertively. In addition to ensuring that your own needs will be addressed, you'll want to make sure your children's best interests are protected when making decisions about child custody and visitation.

Since your ex may try to manipulate you and provoke you into acting emotionally, you should do your best to remain calm and avoid taking the bait. If possible, you should try to communicate in writing. This will allow you to maintain documentation of your interactions which can be used as evidence in court if need be. By saving emails, text messages, voicemails, or other forms of communication, you can demonstrate any abusive or harassing behavior, as well as instances in which your ex agreed on something and then went back on her word.

When handling matters related to your children, you'll want to be aware of the possibility of parental alienation. A narcissistic spouse may attempt to badmouth you to your children in hopes of having them take her side during the divorce. If you're concerned that your ex is attempting to alienate your children against you, you may need to ask that a guardian ad litem or child custody evaluator be appointed to evaluate the situation and address your ex's behavior.

You'll also need to be sure you understand your family's finances, since narcissists often use money as a means of control over others. You should gather as much information as possible about the assets you own, the income you earn, and the debts that you owe. This can help you address any attempts by your spouse to hide assets or misreport income in an attempt to influence decisions about property division, child support, or alimony.

The most important thing you can do when divorcing a narcissist is to work with an attorney who knows how to handle these situations and protect your rights. Your lawyer can help you respond to motions made by your spouse, work with you to address financial issues, and ensure that your children's best interests are placed at the forefront of your case. If necessary, your attorney can help you take steps to enforce the court's orders and make sure your ex meets her obligations and legal requirements both during the divorce process and after your divorce is complete.

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