A divorce is one of the most emotionally taxing experiences that many people will go through in their lives. The psychological toll this process takes on you is magnified when your spouse is a narcissist.

The word narcissist gets thrown around quite a bit, but the fact is, narcissistic personality disorder is an actual mental health condition. A relationship with someone who has this disorder is challenging, but that doesn’t mean that ending that relationship is easy. Divorcing a narcissist or someone with narcissistic traits requires planning and preparation because they do not navigate the world the same way as you.

How to Tell if Your Spouse is a Narcissist

People who exhibit narcissistic traits or who have been diagnosed with this personality disorder often share similar behaviors. Narcissists have an inflated sense of self-importance and preoccupation with power, beauty, or their version of a perfect relationship. These behaviors alone can make connecting and having a healthy relationship difficult, but narcissists also:

  • Need excessive amounts of admiration and attention

  • Have the belief that they are special and superior

  • Feel entitled and expect to be given special treatment

  • Exploit and take advantage of people

  • Lack empathy

  • Refuse to acknowledge other people’s needs

This disorder manifests differently in everyone, but people with narcissistic personality disorder usually have some or all of these traits and attitudes. It is understandable that their spouses would have a hard time coping with such treatment.

If this sounds like your spouse, you are probably wondering how best to approach divorce. Preparation is the universal answer to this question, but if you have questions about the specific steps you should take, contact Sarieh Law Offices to get the guidance you need.

How Narcissistic Behavior Influences Divorce

Dealing with a narcissist who is physically or emotionally abusive will require different proactive steps than dealing with one who is financially abusive. Is your spouse a covert narcissist? All of these factors will influence your divorce, from preparing to file the complaint to gathering supporting documents to litigating in court.

Some steps you may want to take depending on the type of narcissist you’re dealing with include:

  • File a restraining order

  • Access community property financial accounts and gather documents directly from the source

  • Practice saying no and standing your ground when they try to manipulate you

  • Include attorney’s fees in your request for relief

  • Put your needs and the needs of your children ahead of the narcissist

  • Consider using an app to communicate with your spouse about your children

  • Keep your distance both physically and emotionally

  • File for spousal and child support rather than assuming your spouse will provide support on their own

Keep in mind that not all of these steps will be necessary or safe for everyone, so consider your specific situation before moving forward.

Steps of the Divorce Process with a Narcissistic Spouse

The divorce process itself does not change in any substantial way, regardless of your spouse’s behavior. However, narcissists may prolong the process by being uncooperative or combative. Extra steps may be necessary if they refuse to comply with requests, so your divorce attorney may end up needing to file various motions, such as a motion to compel, a motion for sanctions, or a motion for an order to show cause.

You may also notice changing stages of the narcissist’s behaviors as the divorce continues. Many people with narcissistic behavior disorder will start out angry and threatening, which often leads to a phase of negotiation offers in an attempt to slow down the process further. Negotiation efforts, whether between attorneys or through a mediation process, are rarely productive with a narcissist.

Throughout this endeavor to gain your freedom and start anew, it is important to remember that you can only control your own behavior. Stooping to their level or trying to change their behavior will not help anyone, least of all you. Focus on reaching a resolution and closing the book on this chapter of your life so you can start feeling excited about what the future holds for you. Ready to get started? Contact Sarieh Law Offices.

Moving Forward After Divorcing a Narcissist

Once the divorce is final and you no longer have to deal with the daily bullying and controlling behavior of your ex-spouse, you may still have additional considerations to make. If you share children with your ex, your co-parenting journey will not be easy. In fact, co-parenting is often an unattainable dream.

What you can do is set strict boundaries and ensure you have the legal protection you need to protect yourself and your children. This can include clear, detailed terms in a custody and visitation order, support order, divorce decree, or restraining order. Your orders should not leave any detail unresolved or include vague language that leaves important decisions to be based on the agreement of the parties or other similar language. The chance of an agreement between you and your ex is slim, so optimism in binding documents is not the way to go. Parenting apps are also helpful resources to ensure your communication with your narcissistic co-parent is limited.

If you still have questions about the best way to navigate a divorce with a narcissist or are ready to take the next step toward breaking free from your toxic marriage, contact Sarieh Law Offices for a free case evaluation.