How to Divorce A Narcissist

Divorcing any spouse can present its own set of challenges, however, divorcing a spouse with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (diagnosed or undiagnosed) presents challenges that may affect the trajectory and timeline of the divorce process itself.

Per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (also known as “DSM”), Narcissistic Personality Disorder (“NPD”) includes:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and with lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by at least five of the following:

  • Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without actually completing the achievements)
  • Is preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, brilliance, beauty, or perfect love.
  • Believes that they are “special” and can only be understood by or should associate with, other special people (or institutions).
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Has a sense of entitlement, such as an unreasonable expectation of favorable treatment or compliance with his or her expectations).
  • Is exploitative and takes advantage of others to achieve their own ends.
  • Lacks empathy and is unwilling to identify with the needs of others.
  • Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of them.
  • Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors and attitudes.

Once someone has identified their spouse as a narcissist, it is helpful to keep in mind the following three tips when divorcing a narcissist:

1) Understand the Interplay between NPD and its Effect on Children

It is not uncommon for narcissists to view their children as extensions of their own self-image and sense of self-worth. A narcissist may try to use their children to pin them against the other spouse. A narcissist may also place an excessive and unduly amount of pressure on their children to perform in school, activities, and ultimately to force them to “choose” a parent to live with.

2) Play Into Their Patterns

Narcissists crave a tremendous amount of constant praise and positive admirations. Knowing that, approach the narcissistic with these behaviors especially when trying to negotiate settlement terms. Narcissists want to feel and believe they have won. Narcissists will not feel empathy for others, especially the spouse they are divorcing.

3) Be Patient

Ultimately, the most important tip is to try and remain patient. A narcissist will want to take control of the divorce process and attempt to manipulate the process. Knowing that, ensure that you have an experienced matrimonial attorney who understands NPD tendencies and how to use the divorce process, and the Court system, to your advantage.

Lyons & Associates, P.C. focuses its practice on family law and family law related issues. If you or someone you know is considering filing for divorce, please call the skilled attorneys and mediators at Lyons & Associates, at (908) 575-9777 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. The attorneys at Lyons & Associates have substantial expertise zealously advocating for their clients.

By: Marissa Del Mauro, Esq.