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What You Need to Know About Divorcing a Narcissistic Spouse

How Narcissism Be a Major Setback to Your Divorce Proceedings

Many couples enter into a divorce thinking the proceedings will end with a judge issuing a divorce decree. But the truth is that the majority of divorcing couples settle things between themselves or through mediation.

The cases that do end up in court, however, happen because both parties could not come to terms with each other demands. Many times, these contentious separations happen because one spouse has a behavioral problem such as narcissistic personality disorder.

What It Means to Be a Narcissist

Most people tend to use the label narcissist to describe anyone who has a tendency of being “full of themselves.” While this might be partly true, strictly speaking, the problematic attitudes of someone who is truly on the narcissistic spectrum can run deeper.

In the context of a marriage, this can manifest itself in the following character traits:

  • A larger-than-life self-image
  • A dire need to be right at all times
  • Refusing to be held accountable for their actions
  • A tendency to be overly envious
  • A need for constant adoration

The problem with narcissists during a divorce, however, is that their habits and personalities can gravitate towards drawn-out and difficult court battles.

Narcissists and Court battles: What’s in it for Them?

Why do narcissists enjoy the setting of a court battle so much?

For one, a public court battle allows them to take and hold attention from other people by making the divorce proceedings all about them. Another reason is that consigning the fate of the proceedings to the discretion of a judge allows them to avoid feeling responsible for the outcome.

Narcissists in Divorce Proceedings

Unsurprisingly, true narcissistic spouses present a challenge during the divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is the emotionally manipulative type, expect them to throw a pity party. They will make every effort to make themselves look like the victim in the relationship and paint you as the malicious one.

A narcissistic spouse who has money to spend on litigation poses an even bigger problem. These kinds of narcissists tend to play the system and prolong the process for as long as they can, vying for a court victory by exhausting everyone else’s time and resources. Expect endless motions, requests, further delays of the process, and so on.

Perhaps the greatest setback you will have to deal with as a divorcing spouse is a narcissist’s tendency to be dishonest throughout the proceedings. They will not be above lying in sworn documents even if it would be relatively easy to produce evidence contrary to their statements. Other tactics in the same vein include withholding important information and, if they ever disclose information, it will be largely misleading – all in an effort to obstruct the process and irk you.

How to Work Around Their Disorder

While this all might sound horrible, divorcing a narcissist isn’t impossible.

First and foremost, you should inform your attorney of your spouse’s attitude and tendencies. They would know the best way to work around the legal obstacles that may be thrown your way. As for the manipulation and obstruction tactics, learn to steel yourself emotionally. Falsified documents and verbal claims can be countered by keeping copies of important files – especially those that deal with your finances.

If you have questions about divorcing a difficult spouse or require legal assistance in your divorce proceedings, get in touch with Austin family law attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today at 512.215.5225, or use our contact form to schedule a consultation about your case.

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"Daniella, you helped me during the darkest and most difficult time in my life. You were always honest, gave me realistic expectations, and you were prepared for anything in the Courtroom and out of the Courtroom. I will be forever grateful for what you did for me and my children. Because of you, I feel that I got a settlement that will put me on the right path for this next chapter of my life as a divorced parent. Thank you and your wonderful team! you all are great!" A.R.
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