How to Divorce a Narcissist – and Win!

divorce-a-narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist is Hard

Have you ever thought that your soon-to-be ex might be a little self-centered? There may be more truth to the statement than you ever thought possible. Unfortunately, divorcing a narcissist — even a self-proclaimed one — is one of the most challenging topics for an impending divorce.

Roughly 6% of all individuals in the United States will be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association, there’s such a thing as being too preoccupied with your own self-interests.

This manual establishes set guidelines and symptoms used by professionals in the diagnostic assessment of patients for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Here are a few of the criteria that people must meet to earn this label:

  • Having an exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • Expecting to be recognized as superior even without achievements that warrant it
  • Exaggerating achievements and talents
  • Having a preoccupation with fantasies regarding success, power, brilliance, beauty, or the perfect mate
  • Believing that they’re superior and can only be understood by (or associate with) equally special people
  • Needing constant admiration
  • Possessing a sense of entitlement
  • Expecting special favors (and having an unquestioning compliance with those expectations)
  • Taking advantage of others for personal gain
  • Lacking compassion or willingness to recognize needs and feelings of others
  • Envying others and believing that others envy them
  • Having an arrogant or haughty manner

The list of formal criteria to receive this diagnosis is relatively lengthy. In many cases, your spouse may present some, but not all, of the symptoms listed above. But the question remains: How do you deal with your divorce when your spouse tends to behave like a narcissist?

Why a Narcissist Makes Divorce Difficult

The unfortunate part of being married to a narcissist is that you already know how controlling and manipulative they can be. Your spouse may truly believe that they’re a victim in every situation, which leads them to act without compassion or regard for your feelings.

Their victim mindset may bring about other unpleasant behaviors as well. Bullying is likely to be a key tactic that your spouse will cling to, especially as you move towards settlement negotiations. Their sense of entitlement and arrogant attitude leaves them feeling justified in requesting more than their fair share of your marital assets.

Reaching an agreement with an uncooperative, entitled spouse can be extremely frustrating and challenging. But if you give into their unreasonable demands, you could find yourself on financially shaky footing for the future. It becomes even more important to assemble a team of experienced communicators and negotiators, especially when your spouse knows how to manipulate a situation.

How to Effectively Handle a Narcissist

Prepare your paperwork.

Before proceeding, make sure that you have access to every bank statement, asset statement, and documentation regarding investment income. Any information available about your current financial situation should be closely reviewed and filed away in case you need it. A narcissistic spouse has the potential to be extremely controlling. They may restrict your access to pertinent documentation after you file for divorce.

Having all of your paperwork organized and available is critical to help your Certified Divorce Financial Analyst or divorce attorney realistically view your financial status. Then you can help them create a fair settlement to get you all that you are truly entitled to.

Find the right divorce attorney.

When dealing with an uncooperative, narcissistic spouse, you need a divorce attorney that has strong communication skills. If your case ever reaches trial, they should have the ability to persuade a judge of your right to marital assets.

An attorney who is lacking in communication skills may also allow a narcissistic spouse to bully them. If your attorney is unable to convince the judge or stand up for your rights during the settlement negotiations, it could cost you the security of a firm financial future. As a result of their poor negotiation and communication skills, you will not receive all that you are entitled to.

Be prepared for the additional expense associated with hiring the best divorce attorneys and teams in your area. Their advanced skillset and knowledge can significantly cost more than an inexperienced or ineffective divorce attorney.

Take care of your emotional health.

Divorce is rarely a pleasant experience, but when your spouse struggles with a narcissistic personality disorder, it can be incredibly taxing on your emotional and mental health. One of the first steps in successfully divorcing your narcissistic spouse is hiring a therapist to help you sort through your own issues, including those stemming from emotional, verbal, or physical abuse inflicted by your spouse.

By taking responsibility for your emotional health, you can gain a feeling of control over the tumultuous times that surround you. You will be better prepared to head into your settlement negotiations and divorce proceedings with a greater sense of calm and preparation.

Divorcing a narcissist is possible.

Divorce is already hard, but divorcing a narcissist makes the entire process even more difficult. You need to take the appropriate amount of time to prepare yourself for the challenge before you file for divorce. Advance preparation is key to maintaining a feeling of control and balance as new situations arise throughout the process.

By preparing your paperwork, hiring the best team, and taking care of your emotional health, you are setting yourself up for success to handle the additional challenges that this unique situation can present. Be sure you are ready to fight for your financial future and freedom from a narcissistic, overbearing spouse.

 

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.