I am not an attorney, nor do I claim to be. I am someone who has been through a multitude of court battles with a narcissistic ex-spouse. My time in court began in 2014.
It has not been an easy four years, but the information I have obtained has helped others when dealing with divorce and a narcissist. It is difficult going through an average divorce then add in children and a troublesome ex, and things get a bit more complicated.
The more I tried to compromise and co-parent the more I realized these things do not exist in the world of a narcissist. Winning at all costs is what a narcissist needs to be empowered. I would be confused and wonder how this could be, shouldn’t the best interest of the children come first, but then I learned narcissist do not feel empathy.
I was fighting a losing battle based on one-sided morality. Was this frustrating, absolutely, but it was also a revelation. If you take away one thing from this article remember this; Narcissists hate who you are because it reminds them of who they are not.
Are You In A Relationship With A Narcissist?
I had no idea my ex was a narcissist until after my divorce. I cannot count how many times I have heard this statement. Why did I not know this too? Because narcissist love bomb, gaslight and manipulate. After all, I thought there was something wrong with me for years. Imagine my feeling of relief when I realized I was only being emotionally abused and not crazy. No that did not help, but it did pave the way for my healing journey.
The realization that you’ve been the victim of a narcissist always comes after the damage is done otherwise they could not continue their abusive ways.
Most narcissist prey on people with insecurities, self-esteem issues, and low self-confidence. Their partners are often dubbed crazy, mean, jealous, hurtful, or a bad parent and this is often told by the narcissist to their family and friends. No one has ever witnessed what the narcissist is saying to be true, but they are so cunning and slick they must be telling the truth, right?
Gaslighting gives them a cushion to fall back on when their partners finally figure them out. The narcissist has already painted a picture of their partner that is often unfeeling and cruel so when the battle begins they have nowhere to turn. They can even set their partners family against them including their children.
What can you do as the victim of a narcissist during a divorce to keep your sanity and protect your wellbeing?
When You Decide It’s Time To Divorce Your Narcissist Spouse
Every state has different laws regarding divorce and child custody. Get to know the ones in your state well. Having education on your side will help keep you out of unnecessary court battles and from incurring significant expenses. The narcissist will taunt you and use your children causing you to call and text your attorney more so than usual. Every time you do this, they charge you.
Interview several attorneys to see which is best for your case. Some do not charge a consultation fee, some do. Ask in advance to avoid surprise charges. You may need to cover up your whereabouts when seeking legal counsel. Once a narcissist knows what you’re up to the love bombing begins and so does the abusive cycle.
If you plan on doing divorce research online, clear your browser. A narcissist likes control. This includes having access to your computer, internet passwords, your phone, etc. You do not have the same privilege. In their world, you have no privacy. They need privacy to launch private assaults on you and to acquire supporters.
Why would your spouse do this to you after years of marriage? You always supported them, spoke well of them, and gave them everything they ever needed including unconditional love. A narcissist does not play fair. That is why they recruit admirers and only accept love when they need to feel empowered. They know you’ve been supportive and loving which now goes against you. It really isn’t about you, it’s all about them.
Collect any necessary papers and documents including passports, birth certificates, marriage license, copies of bills, copies of your spouse’s taxes and work-related records, checkbooks, prenuptial agreement if you were lucky enough not to be talked out of having one. Anything you may need moving forward because once they know you have filed all access will not be granted.
Get your own cell phone line as soon as you can, even if you keep the one you have on your plan with your spouse for a little while. Your attorney may suggest this as well.
Tell your friends and family what you and your children have been going through. This is not a time to be silent or embarrassed about what you have endured. Build a trustworthy support system. Chances are throughout your relationship not many people have liked the way your spouse treated you. Those people will be your best supporters moving forward. It’s not an “I told you so situation,” it’s a, “thank goodness you saw it too,” situation. No one wants to see you or your children suffer.
During the Divorce
After you separate and secure legal counsel, ask your attorney for a temporary hearing for alimony, child support, and child custody. If you do not have access to bank accounts or household bills, this is imperative. You’ll need to ask for temporary alimony, child support and household bills to be paid if you were the homemaker and did not have a job outside the home. This will also be an excellent time to set up visitation on a temporary basis until the divorce is finalized.
Make sure you get the custody you feel is best for your children and the visitation that is in their best interest NOW. Do not fall for manipulation tactics. The narcissist will ask why you are doing this to them, they will manipulate you into believing they have the children’s best interest at heart if you let them. Falling for this will be a major downfall in years to come when the children start showing signs of emotional abuse. You can do something about it in the beginning, but after the fact, it is hard, primarily if your initial complaint was emotional abuse. Remember you cannot control what goes on in the other house so the more time your children have with you, the better.
In a final hearing or mediation, the time you allow your ex-narcissist to have with your children during the separation period before the divorce will be taken into consideration. After a final agreement is in place is it tough to prove a significant change in circumstance unless your children’s lives are in danger.
If your ex was always emotionally abusive to the children and still is, but now in different ways, it is not enough for some courts to overturn a prior agreement. They will not change custody or visitation even if you have documented all the immoral things your children have been through. If your ex has always been unethical that will go against you, not your narcissistic ex. Believe me, your ex will do things that are not in the best interest of your children. Get the custody and visitation you want now.
Most children are not allowed to speak in court. In some states, a guardian-ad-litem is appointed or requested. Most are not trained child psychologists. In some states, a guardian-ad-litem is an attorney who is required by law to be a guardian for a specific amount of time. When a state does not appoint a guardian, you have the burden of paying for one, usually half the fee. The manipulation of a narcissist works on guardians who are not trained mental health specialist so be prepared. If you find you need one do some research and see what experience the guardian has with narcissistic parents.
Seek counseling for you and your children immediately but be forewarned narcissist like courtroom battles and your counseling records can be used in litigation especially custody litigation. In some states, H.I.P.A.A.rules do not apply.
Be sure to discuss this with your counselor and attorney ahead of time. Ask your attorney if this applies in your state. Ask your counselor for coping skills to help you and your children. Avoid saying too much about your feelings to your counselor, they can be used by your ex in court. Instead, talk to family and friends, and find a support group.
If your records are used in court or mediation be sure to ask for a third-party gag order. A breach of your counseling records is unethical. Narcissist are unethical by nature. Be sure to ask for this. If it ever gets back to you that a third party has read or used your counseling records in any way your attorney will guide you through the necessary steps to take action.
You’re Divorced; What You May Experience Next
After the divorce, it may not be over. Stay calm and do your best not to react when situations arise. I highly suggest learning deep breathing techniques and trying yoga if you don’t already do this. Self-care is imperative, most likely you were not practicing it while in your marriage.
This is very important: stick to your arranged custody agreement. If you give an inch, your ex will expect a mile from you next time. Narcissist do not have healthy boundaries. You need to have ones in place for your wellbeing and that of your children. I know you want to believe your ex wants to work with you. You are not dealing with normal. Think about it, does your ex want to work with you when it’s only convenient for him/her? To save yourself from more emotional upset think of this as entering into a business agreement where all emotions take a back seat.
If it’s in the best interest that the children go off schedule, do what feels right for you but don’t expect anything in return. If you’d like an even trade of time, get it in writing and put it on a shared calendar. The Family Time Tree App is a great way to keep track of visitation, whose holiday it is with the kids and activities. Kids can be on it as well as they get older. This is a great way to limit unnecessary contact.
A narcissist may alienate you from your children. If this happens after your divorce, know that you are not alone. Your children WILL see the truth in time. Keep moving forward and never change how you parent. It can be difficult but staying the course will show your children you love them.
Divorcing a narcissist is not easy and will be challenging. Half the battle is leaving the relationship. The other half is getting through the divorce. Be smart and learn all you can. There is no reasoning with a narcissist. They do not believe in counseling because it may uncover to the world who they are, and they are happy being in control of you. You may think it’s easier to stay but life does get better once you make the decision to choose yourself over abuse.
If you are at a crossroads and need guidance divorcing a narcissist, I can offer you resources to help make your road to divorcing a narcissist less chaotic. Contact me for a complimentary consultation today. Every narcissistic relationship has its challenges and each one is unique. I can teach you how to come out the other end of your divorce with new found confidence and emotional stability.