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What to Know When Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorce is never easy. Even under the best of circumstances and with the most amicable relationships, the process of divorce can take a huge toll emotionally, mentally, and otherwise. When you’re divorcing someone with extenuating circumstances like mental health issues or other concerns, it can be that much more stressful and difficult to handle. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources out there to help you today, including the assistance of a dedicated divorce attorney who can help you navigate it all.

The Mayo Clinic describes narcissists as those who “have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.”

As you can probably guess, each of these elements has its own challenges and considerations to handle when it comes to divorce and mitigating the case in the best interests of everyone involved. Even the behavior of the narcissist can cost them dearly in terms of getting outcomes in their favor during a divorce hearing.

Here’s what you need to know about getting away from a narcissist for good, including how to protect your children, identify and avoid the narcissist’s games and provoking behaviors, and tips for preparing for it all so that you go in ready to handle whatever comes your way.

Healing the Trauma After Divorcing a Narcissist

Being with a narcissist creates a lot of trauma that many people don’t even notice until they have left the relationship. Some people might not realize for several years that they have issues that are related to their relationship with that narcissistic personality. Others may have obvious trauma that exists presently, which is part of why they want a divorce. They know that they are being traumatized or emotionally abused in some way and they want out as quickly as possible.

Of course, it doesn’t always happen as quickly as many people would like. This can lead to an extension of the traumatic feelings and circumstances, and further complicate getting help and finding the right solutions for recovery. It can be difficult for people to escape a narcissistic relationship and when they do, it can be even more challenging for them to find the courage to face their trauma and work through it so that they can move on.

That’s the important thing here—it’s not about the narcissist. It’s about you and healing your trauma from being involved with this person. There are plenty of resources out there and you are absolutely deserving of all of them if you find them useful—don’t let anyone, including your spouse, tell you otherwise.

It’s also a good idea to consider seeing a therapist and trying to work through any remaining issues that you have as a result of being with or divorcing a narcissist. Not only can this help you, but it can also show the courts that you are trying to improve yourself and do what you can to be a proper parent and heal the trauma and the damage that it caused. This can work favorably in a custody case.

Divorcing a Narcissist and Protecting Your Children

It can be even more challenging when you are divorcing a narcissist and there are kids involved. They will want to be the best parent. They will attempt to turn the children against you. It could get ugly and it could happen quicker than you think. The best thing that you can do to protect your children is to make sure that you have documentation of all of your soon-to-be ex’s outbursts, confrontations, physical or mental abuse, parenting styles and habits, and other factors. If they’re constantly yelling at the kids about being disappointments because they aren’t “perfect” then you need to make sure the court knows this.

Always do what is in the best interests of your children, first and foremost. It can be hard with a narcissist, but it can be done.

Games Narcissists Play During Divorce

Narcissists thrive on getting their way. If they don’t, they often lash out in uncontrollable anger. They may also have difficulty regulating other emotions and reactions. Divorce is something that can cause narcissists to have a lot of issues and that can impact how they treat the other spouse. After all, the narcissist believes that they are perfect—a divorce is going to prove to everyone that’s not true.

They don’t want to be the “bad guy” so they’ll make the spouse out to be the one to blame. They need to “win” in a way that doesn’t make sense to any rational adult human being. (Their reaction to not getting their way is akin to toddlers throwing fits, albeit on a much larger scale)

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition that causes people to thrive on head games and being perceived as the “best” in whatever capacity is most important to them. In this case, they might want to be the best spouse or the best parent, even if their personality doesn’t allow them to deliver on that. They are often blind to what is and see things how they want them to be.

Preparing to Divorce a Narcissist: Tips and Reminders

Here are a few more tips to ensure that you have a smoother experience with your divorce from a narcissist.

  • You can’t afford to be “nice” with a narcissist. Protect yourself and your children first and always.
  • Hire a lawyer. You’re dealing with enough and a divorce lawyer knows how to handle this type of person and get you out safely with a fair outcome.
  • Get a therapist and see them regularly.
  • Get everything in writing.
  • Document any incidents or issues.
  • Keep it out of court if you can. This is best for everyone and removes the “stage” so the narcissist can’t delve into the drama.

If you’re divorcing a narcissist or struggling with another complex divorce case, you don’t have to do it alone—and you shouldn’t. Contact Modern Law for a team of experienced, empathetic divorce lawyers who can help you get a fair outcome and safely navigate divorcing a narcissist.


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