When You’re Divorcing a Narcissist

Narcissistic spouses are significantly more challenging to divorce than non-narcissistic people. The need for attention, lack of empathy, and interpersonal exploitation make these spouses extremely hard to reason within divorce cases. Non-narcissists must know what to expect from narcissists and develop well-thought-out strategies to protect themselves.

Understanding the Tactics of Narcissists

Narcissists often attempt to appear superior to their spouses. Their core personality traits make them likely to cause problems during the divorce process. Some of the challenges that spouses could have to deal with include:

  • Parental alienation: A narcissistic parent will try to turn everyone, including children, against the non-narcissistic parent. He or she may manipulate them by showering them with gifts, to make them choose sides or avoid contact with the other parent.
  • Selfishness: Narcissists usually position themselves to control the finances in their marriages. Whether in a high asset divorce or not, they will often try to leave as few resources as possible to their ex-spouses. They tend to view any allowances given to their exes as a personal defeat.
  • Drama: A narcissist’s relentless thirst for attention and need to win will lead him or her to making high-conflict moves. These include bullying, bad-mouthing, and purposely pressing the spouse’s buttons to get the maximum response from him or her. Narcissists are not averse to lying.

How to Handle Narcissistic Spouses in Divorce Cases

Conventional wisdom usually does not apply when divorcing narcissists. The tips below help people survive divorce from narcissists.


Narcissists frequently lie, so it is vital for those divorcing them to muster all the evidence that they can. They should gather documents, make copies of the important ones, and arrange everything in chronological order. These will help discredit some of the lies. Keeping all texts, voice mails, and emails can help prove a spouse’s narcissistic personality disorder.

Staying Calm

Narcissists will try to provoke outbursts in court. They may try to engage spouses in arguments and do not usually back down from fights. Although it may be tempting to respond to the hostility with rage, defensiveness, or sarcasm, non-narcissistic spouses should resist the urge to take the bait. Instead, he or she should adopt a drama-free style of communication. It is better to allow the attorney to handle objecting to emotionally damaging false claims.

Protecting Finances

Before entering divorce, victims of narcissists should document as much of the assets and financial wellbeing as they can. That will help prove financial control and abuse, which can be instrumental in building a strong case. Individuals should also save some money to protect themselves from abuse when moving toward divorce.

Hiring Professionals

To defeat a narcissist, a non-narcissistic spouse will likely need to recognize how skilled narcissists can be at impressing others and manipulating conversations and circumstances. He or she must work around the manipulation and enter into smart negotiation with the narcissist. Unfortunately, longstanding abuse and emotional vulnerability make smart negotiation difficult for narcissists’ victims. A family law attorney, especially one who has experience with narcissistic exes, can help position victims for a successful divorce.

The more prepared people are psychologically and legally, the better they will fare in a divorce with a narcissist.