Divorcing a Narcissist

Life with a narcissist is often destructive, demeaning, and difficult. In fact, being with that person can make it nearly impossible for you and your children to not lose yourselves entirely. Unfortunately, divorcing a narcissist is a complex and frustrating battle that can frequently feel like reliving the worst moments of your marriage.

In general, divorce requires defensive thinking. Divorcing a narcissist requires more. You have to think through what he may do (I say “he” because male narcissists outnumber females by 2 to 1) and you have to figure out how to let him believe he has won. Not an easy, quick, or inexpensive process.

The majority of divorce cases (approximately 95%) settle. Ones involving a narcissist typically do not. The path to finality is filled with unnecessary battles. In most cases, discovery of a spouse’s finances is relatively straightforward. Not so with a narcissist. There will be multiple trips to court necessitated by his focus on control, making the process costly and painful. There will be fights over children…

In the end, I have come to believe, through post-divorce friendships with my clients, that those fights are worth it – that being able to lead a normal life is worth it. Every person has a right to happiness, and no one should feel like a captive in a relationship. Here’s a link to a good, in-depth look at some specifics to consider. 

In preparation, be sure to get as much financial information prior to starting the divorce process as you can. Every bit of documentation – tax returns, bank and investment statements, credit card and cell phone records – that you have copied before you file will save you the legal fees inherent to chasing and subpoenaing once litigation begins.

Get yourself and your kids into therapy; a pre-divorce therapist for the kids will save you the battle of having to get one after filing – and it will be a battle. You will need one to help you understand the necessity of divorcing, as well as to guide you through the emotional battle that takes place during the process.

And finally, get a divorce lawyer who understands just what divorcing a narcissist entails. It is different.