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Divorce And Personality Disorders

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Divorce can be challenging under any circumstances. However, when one spouse has a personality disorder, it can create a chaotic environment in which divorces become even more problematic and adversarial. Divorce and personality disorders combined can make the entire legal process more complex. If you are anticipating a divorce with a spouse that has a personality disorder, consider contacting an experienced attorney at My Modern Law to ensure your legal rights remain protected.

Expert Weighs In On Personality Disorders

Kris Godinez is a licensed professional counselor with years of experience. She started working with domestic violence victims that suffer abuse as a result of their significant other’s personality disorder. Because of the stigma surrounding mental health, many abuser’s personality disorders go largely unacknowledged and untreated resulting in domestic violence and abuse. Personality disorders are mental health disorders that cause the person to exhibit maladaptive behaviors that are harmful and hurtful. These types of mental disorders can often be treated with medications if treated appropriately. There are three types of personality disorders, however, many high-conflict divorces often involve one spouse with a borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder.

Examples of Behavior Exhibited By Spouses With Personality Disorders

Some spouses may believe their partner’s behavior qualifies as a personality disorder, but an individual would need to have a professional diagnosis to actually be considered as such in a legal setting. The following are some examples of behaviors and actions of those with a personality disorder such as narcissism or borderline personality disorder.

  • Using people to get what they want
  • Sense of entitlement
  • Engaging in dramatic behavior unnecessarily
  • Harming others emotionally for self-gain or a feeling of self-importance
  • The feeling of being right all the time or fabulous
  • The conversation or discussion always has to be about them
  • Consistently acting like the victim
  • Acting like they are the savior of others
  • Engaging in acts of self-harm
  • Engaging in controlling the behavior of others

If these types of behaviors sound familiar to you, you may have a spouse with a personality disorder.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chemistry issue where a person’s brain is unable to regulate “feel-good” chemicals. As a result, people with this disorder have wild surges between feeling euphoria and depression. Having a spouse or partner with this type of disorder can cause a great deal of unpredictability in a divorce. In some cases, these spouses may want to move everything through at the speed of light, and at other times they can not seem to find the energy to answer a phone call or text. In some of these cases, a spouse might make unwise decisions with marital assets such as spending tens of thousands of dollars gambling in Las Vegas or in other cases threatening to commit suicide.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline personality disorder often stems from trauma and people with this disorder fear being abandoned. These spouses may also threaten suicide as a way to attempt to prevent another spouse from leaving them.


While some spouses with personality disorders engage in controlling behavior or acting like a victim, there is a dark triad that can occur in a narcissist that encompasses narcissism, psychopath, and other antisocial personality disorders. In many cases, these are the spouses or partners that simply can not move on or give their partner freedom. Unfortunately, these are the people that end up becoming stalkers and needing orders of protection against them. It is important if you feel you are dealing with a spouse or partner that is engaging in this type of dark and controlling behavior that you seek assistance from law enforcement and obtain as much legal protection as possible.


Narcissists have an exaggerated sense of importance. They require constant admiration telling them how fantastic and great they are. They expect to be recognized as superior without any real achievements to merit that type of authority. They have no clue when to be quiet in conversations and they are literally an expert in everything. They will never consider the idea of apologizing and nothing is ever their fault. They exaggerate all of their talents and achievements and are preoccupied with fabricated fantasies involving their success, power, beauty or brilliance. They tend to humiliate those who have made even simple mistakes and belittle anyone and everyone possible. They expect special favors and require unquestioning compliance. They also punish people when they do not get what they want and have an overall lack of an ability to either empathize or sympathize with others. Divorce and personality disorders that include these types of narcissist spouses have a greater chance of experiencing manipulation or abuse.

How Abusers Operate

While everyone will have a different experience with an abuser, there are many classic signs of how spouses and partners operate in relationships.

Love Bomb Phase

In the first phase of a relationship, people with personality disorders often mirror the core values and likes/dislikes of the other person. They overwhelm the other person with love and shower them with affection and attention.

The Mask Starts To Fall Off

Soon after the love bomb phase, people with personality disorders have a difficult time keeping up appearances and their mask begins to fall off. They may start to devalue the other person and act critically regarding their choices and actions. This can often confuse a partner who was so accustomed to a great deal of praise and affection.

Abuse Phase

Eventually, the criticism turns to psychological or physical abuse. The constant criticism can make a spouse a shell of their former self with a complete erosion of self-esteem or self-worth. Unfortunately, many spouses that marry a person in the beginning stages of a relationship are surprised when their spouse changes their personality, however, it can happen over a long period of time where a spouse becomes eventually accustomed to the abuse. Many times, when a spouse with a personality disorder realizes that they are going to be served divorce papers, they immediately switch and then go back to the love bomb phase, making it difficult for the other spouse to actually divorce them. The cycle, unfortunately, continues if the spouse makes the decision not to divorce.

Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are experiencing a divorce and personality disorder combination, you have even more challenges than most typical divorces may have. Contact an experienced family law attorney at My Modern Law today at (480) 462-7958 to learn more about your legal rights and ensure they remain protected.

For More On This Subject…

Listen to Kris Godinez and Billie Tarascio of Modern Law talk about this subject on the Modern Divorce Podcast:

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