Divorcing a Narcissist

Q: How can a narcissistic spouse complicate a divorce?

While getting a divorce in Phoenix is never pleasant, it can be particularly painful if your soon-to-be ex-spouse is a narcissist. 

What is a narcissist?

According to the Mayo Clinic, narcissism is a type of personality disorder. It is characterized as “a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others… [and] behind this mask of extreme confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”

Because narcissists struggle when dealing with anything they perceive as criticism, they can become enraged and have trouble regulating their emotions and behavior. Sadly, domestic violence is not uncommon in relationships with narcissists. 

If this sounds like your spouse, you should expect some difficulties if you file for divorce.

Common traits of narcissists that can complicate a divorce include:

  • a sense of entitlement
  • preoccupation with “fantasies about success, power, brilliance, beauty or the perfect mate”
  • the inability to recognize other people’s needs and feelings.

As masters of manipulation, narcissistic spouses may stop at nothing to drag out the divorce – even if the behavior is time-consuming and costly – just to show the non-narcissistic spouse who’s “in control”. This may include:

  • “filing false pleadings or motions
  • refusing to provide documents
  • ignoring court orders
  • not meeting deadlines to submit paperwork
  • withholding assets and money.”

But dragging out the proceeding is not the only problem a narcissist brings to the divorce table. They’ve been known to initiate smear campaigns or lie to make the non-narcissistic spouse look bad and may even use their children as pawns in child custody battles. Even worse are the “malignant narcissists” – – those narcissists who also have “a sadistic streak and might even enjoy hurting” their spouses— who often resort to extreme intimidation tactics that may turn violent. 

Special care– and a very experienced divorce attorney who can anticipate, preempt, and/or counteract this behavior–is crucial when divorcing a narcissist.

If you are considering getting divorced, have been served with divorce papers, or have any questions regarding any family law matter, the experts at Cohen Family Law can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

From our office is in Phoenix, we are totally focused on helping clients navigate their family law issues with a non-judgmental and compassionate approach.