At Alexander & Ewert, LLC Attorneys at Law, we would be lying if we said that we hadn’t witnessed our fair share off unpleasant divorces. As much as we wish all divorces happened between amicable exes, who are ready to set aside their differences to accomplish the divorce (and when applicable, maturely coparent), but the fact of the matter is that divorce can be unpleasant, especially when divorcing a narcissist. Either way, we are prepared to help you and fight for you.
What is a Narcissist?
Narcissism, or narcissistic personality disorder, is a Class B personality disorder that is associated with having an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, a lack of empathy for others, and as you have probably seen first-hand, troubled relationships. Narcissism is often experienced in conjunction with other Class B personality disorders, such as borderline personality disorder, or antisocial personality disorder (colloquially referred to as psychopathy). Narcissists may be more likely to abuse their partners, emotionally or physically. However, this does not mean all narcissists are abusive.
If you’ve been abused by a narcissist, you may experience a large amount of self-doubt, a sense or helplessness, anxiety, you may focus on other’s needs before your own, or have a difficult time setting boundaries. If you believe that your spouse is abusive, and/or that you may be in immediate danger, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
If the following sounds like your husband/wife, you may be married to a narcissist:
Your spouse exploits people, takes advantage of them, and will even pit people against each other for their own gain
They go great lengths to feed their egos, such as flirting with people outside the marriage, or putting others down to make themselves look better
They tend to monopolize conversations, and only have an interest in talking about themselves
They are unable or unwilling to recognize your needs or feelings
They are generally manipulative, even if they aren’t willing to recognize it
They experience explosive anger that is often inappropriate, and mishandled or misdirected
They treat you like a prize or trophy to show off, and get angry when they experience a lack of attention from you
They insist on controlling the finances, and have worn you down into relinquishing this power to them
- They perceive themselves as the victim in every conflict they experience, and cannot accept responsibility for their wrong doings
First Steps to Take When Divorcing a Narcissist
1. Make copies of all important documents and store them someplace safe:
Joint and Sole Bank Accounts
Documents pertaining to owned property, loans
Birth certificates, marriage certificates, passports and IDs
Any important texts, or emails between you and your ex
Sometimes, when people divorce narcissists, proof of assets “magically” go missing, and end up belonging to off-shore bank accounts. A good lawyer can help you work to prove what happened in court, but having copies of these documents will greatly help them get a head start and increase your likelihood of recovering any lost assets.
This hopefully goes without saying, but its best to keep these copies in a place that the narcissist cannot access.
2. Hire a Good Lawyer
Getting a good lawyer involved, early on, can help smooth over the divorce process. Our experience allows us to anticipate how they will behave and help you stay ahead of the curve. A lawyer is your sword and shield, as it is their job to protect you. We can also act as a buffer for you to limit the amount of time that you have to interact with your ex, and will handle the interactions with your ex’s lawyer on your behalf.
3. Learn to recognize when gaslighting is occurring, and how to identify manipulation tactics
Narcissist’s often control their partners by gaslighting them, or manipulating them to not believe in their own thought and feelings, often by lying, or denying things that happened (even when there is proof). Learning to recognize what manipulative behaviors look like can help you prevent yourself from being influenced by them, and therefore extend your freedom from your ex.
4. Regain control of Your Finances
If you don’t already have a bank account that the narcissist isn’t part of, it is time to open one, and start putting your money into it. If you have direct deposits and credit cards, move them to your new account.
Hot tip: most banks will allow you to close a joint account without the approval of the other joint owner. While this is a provocative step, it can be useful if your narcissist is persistently over drafting the account, or trying to use it to punish you. Consult your lawyer before proceeding with this step.
What to Expect from Your Soon-to-be-ex
The narcissist will make promises they don’t intend to keep
He or she will try to charm you, and get you to warm up to them. They may try to coax you out of believing you need a lawyer with promises of how they will cooperate, and be amicable. Be readily aware that they will not follow through on their promises.
The narcissist will try to turn people against you
He or she will call your mother behind your back, and tell her every embarrassing thing that you don’t want her to know, and when they run out of dirt to dish, they will make up lies. They will call your friends relentlessly to try and make you look like the bad guy in the relationship. They may even show up at your workplace, uninvited, and try to tell your boss about a drug problem you never had.
While this sounds very frightening, it is also an incredibly petty and telling behavior that (hopefully) most people see through. If they don’t, just send them this blog post and it’ll help them make sense of it.
They will try to drag out the divorce process as long as possible
Narcissists love drama, and they love fighting because they’re naturally competitive. They may also do this as retaliation to the blow to their self esteem that they receive when they realize that their spouse doesn’t want them. However, a good lawyer can help limit this.
They may not cooperate with court orders, or even their own lawyers
Yes, this is acting against their own best interests, but narcissists often believe that they know better than those around them, and that includes courts and lawyers. Some narcissists perceive themselves to be above the law, even though that is not true, and it is a bad idea to conduct oneself in such a manner.
They will try to provoke you and get a rise out of you
Once again, narcissists love drama, and making you upset helps them feel like they are winning. They may try to make you jealous by sending you information about new romantic prospects that they are pursuing. They will likely try to belittle you, and be hurtful. Don’t fall for it. Don’t respond to the mean texts, don’t let them see you react.
Unfortunately, the road ahead may be long, but it is also worthwhile, because the only thing worse than divorcing a narcissist is staying married to one. Please also know that you are not alone! At Alexander & Ewert, we’re well aware of what to expect, how to support you, and we are ready to fight for you.
We’re ready for your call.