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How to Divorce a Narcissist

Jul 29, 2021 | Child Custody, Divorce

As the husband or wife of a narcissist, you understand the personality traits that color every interaction: entitlement, self-absorption, and a need for admiration. These traits can make a divorce even more traumatic. Your spouse and their attorney will likely try to charm the family law judge assigned to your case. But with the right lawyer at your side–one who understands the laws in Houston and Texas–you can successfully navigate the proceedings and get your spouse to reveal their true self.

How to Divorce a Narcissist in Houston, Texas

You should first prepare yourself for the process. A narcissist cannot objectively consider their actions and will therefore fight you every step of the way, insisting the blame be laid squarely on your shoulders.

For these reasons, you should also seek the advice of a licensed therapist or counselor. A mental health professional can provide you with coping skills to manage your own stress and reduce the impact of your spouse’s behaviors on your psyche. And, finally, you’ll need a highly skilled family law specialist who can keep the court focused on key issues.

Use Attorney-Recommended Tactics

It can be possible to negotiate with your husband or wife so they believe they’re winning the case. This requires considerable skill, but the goal is to frame arguments with care. Ego-driven personalities hate to lose, and if they think they’re winning, they may back off.

Remember that arguing is fruitless. Your spouse will never be persuaded to change their thinking, and narcissism loves bringing others into the battlefield. It’s therefore best to remain cool and calm; at least visibly so. You can then find positive ways to channel your frustration, such as with a good workout or long soak in the tub.

Plan on a Fight to the Very End

It’s likely your spouse will keep appealing family law decisions, expecting to eventually receive a win. You’ll need to strategize with your attorney so the court understands this kind of conduct will eventually wipe out all of your assets. Your legal counsel will also need to discourage the judge from allowing additional appeals, as repeat court appearances only increase drama and cause additional emotional harm.

Think Proactively to Help Your Family Lawyer

You will want to maintain meticulous records for your lawyer to review throughout the dissolution proceedings. For instance, communicate in writing when possible and document every personal meeting and phone conversation. Include names of others who were present, the subject discussed, and the date and time of the conversation.

Also record the time you and your spouse spend with your children. Your husband or wife will likely exaggerate their devotion to the kids – even as they miss school events and other important occasions. Your lawyer can then use the log when questioning your spouse in court. Last but not least, put together a list of witnesses your legal counsel may want to call. Detail what each knows and include any persons your spouse might call as well.

Details About the Proceedings

Some couples are able to resolve their differences with mediation, which helps speed the proceedings and encourages a more amicable dissolution. But because your spouse lacks empathy, they likely won’t see the value of negotiating. Compromise is just another word for defeat, and they will fight to win at all costs. The court will therefore need to rule on the details of your divorce.

Throughout the proceedings, it’s important you shield your children from the worst of any arguments you and your spouse have. Your spouse may try to use your children as pawns to ultimately control and manipulate you. To make matters worse, kids often lack the ability to see through narcissism, meaning they only know the other parent as fun and charming. Be prepared for this and simply care for the children as you have always done.

Understanding the Personality Disorder

At its core, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) lends an inflated sense of self-importance. With this tenet comes entitlement. A person with NPD always deserves the best, and anything that runs counter to this belief positions them as a victim. Even when all evidence points to the contrary, they will see others as guilty of wrongdoing and themselves as innocently duped.

That brings us to another aspect of NPD: the truth is often malleable and can be distorted so it suits them. It’s not that a person with this disorder deliberately lies but that they don’t view facts with the same impartial eye as others do. Their first instinct is self-protection, and if the truth must bend in order to accommodate this need, they will do just that without hesitation.

The Implications in Court

A husband or wife with NPD will try to lull you into a false sense of security. But at this point in the marriage, it’s important to know you cannot trust them. They often try to breach your defenses with kindness only to depict you as immoral, abusive, and unstable to the court. Your spouse knows what triggers to pull to get a reaction from you and will do so in the hopes you unravel.

Your goal should be to stay as methodical and professional in court as possible. Show rather than tell the judge that your spouse has NPD. If you stay emotionless and prove your case with the documentation discussed earlier, you will watch your spouse transform from charming to irate. The court will then understand the kind of person it’s dealing with.

Know How to Manage Threats Against You

Throughout the course of your Houston, Texas divorce, your spouse will likely make threats against you. Those with NPD commonly claim they have the ability to:

  • Ruin your reputation
  • Obtain all of your community property
  • Take the children from you

Your spouse cannot convince the court you’re an unfit parent without evidence – especially when you have likely served as the children’s primary caregiver for most of their lives. The same is true of property. It will be divided in the fairest way possible. Threats are abuse intended to instill fear so you give in to your spouse’s demands. You should discuss this behavior with your attorney and explore ways to prevent it, such as with a restraining order.

Be Prepared for Custody Battles

A spouse with NPD, as you probably know, does not recognize boundaries but does like to constantly change the rules. This penchant for drama can drive them to routinely demand changes to court-ordered custody arrangements. It’s important, however, that you and your attorney work together to prevent such changes. Your spouse may apply pressure and claim extraordinary circumstances have prompted the need for a new custody order.

Simply demand proof of such circumstances and, in its absence, stick to the original order. This is probably little more than an attempt to rebel against the boundaries instituted by you and the court, but it’s crucial you not give in. Specify when your spouse can call the children – including specific days and times – and allow visitation only in accordance with your divorce decree. Otherwise, you will continue to live a pattern of conceding to your spouse’s demands.

A spouse with NPD can wear you down mentally and emotionally. Care for yourself both mentally and physically throughout the proceedings and partner with a team of caring, compassionate, and experienced lawyers. We can help you move forward with your life and relieve damaging stress. Schedule a consultation today by contacting the Skillern Firm in Houston, Texas.