As Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors we are asked ‘how can I divorce a narcissist?’ and the equally valid question ‘can I divorce a narcissist?’. When you are married to a narcissist it can feel as if there isn’t a way out of the relationship. There is always a way out and, in this blog, we look at your best options if you want to divorce a narcissist.
Can I Divorce a Narcissist?
When you are married to a narcissist and subject to constant belittlement it can be hard to contemplate feeling empowered enough to start divorce proceedings, especially if you are told by your husband, wife or civil partner that you can’t leave and you can’t get divorced.
Often the question isn’t about whether you have the grounds to start divorce proceedings against a narcissist but whether their threats that you will ‘walk away with nothing’ or ‘you won’t see the children again’ are realistic. As divorce solicitors we find that many people who are married to spouses with narcissistic personality disorders wait a long time before taking legal advice because their partners have told them that divorce proceedings will result in them losing custody of their children or not having enough money to look after themselves and the children. That is very rarely true but it is hard to believe that your divorce solicitor is right when the person you are married to is so adamant in their beliefs.
The first steps in divorcing a narcissist are:
- Recognising the problem – that is harder than you may think if you have been subject to demeaning comments for years and lost a lot of your confidence
- Get help – that can be from your GP, a counsellor, friend or family member – it is important to have emotional and practical help if you are getting divorced and especially if you are divorcing a narcissist
- Take legal advice – a specialist divorce solicitor can help reassure you about your legal rights and give you an idea of the likely financial settlement and child care arrangements so that you have the confidence to decide whether you want to start divorce proceedings
- Focus on what is important to you – if you have been living with a narcissist it is hard to gather the confidence and determination to start divorce proceedings. That’s why it is important to focus on why you are doing it. For example, your motivation may be not wanting your children to be affected by your partner’s narcissistic personality disorder or you not wanting to be in the same position in ten or more years’ time. Remember, that it is what is important to you that’s the crucial point. That means you should not substitute the views of friends or family for the control imposed on you by your narcissistic partner as you need to look at what’s best for you.
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How to divorce a narcissist
If you are married to someone with a narcissistic personality disorder it can be a worry about whether to mention the full extent of your partner’s behaviour to your divorce solicitor. If you don’t live with a narcissist then someone’s reluctance to open up about their partner’s narcissistic personality traits can be surprising. However, a reluctance to be fully open with your divorce solicitor can be down to:
- Fear that you won’t be believed
- Worry that you will be thought to be the one with the ‘problem’
- Concern that your partner will react badly if they think that you have said things about them
- Thinking that it is pointless to say anything about your partner’s behaviour as it won’t make any difference.
All of those are very valid reasons why you may be concerned about talking about narcissistic personality disorder traits, such as:
- Your partner’s belief that they are brilliant and exceptional and, of course, always in the right
- Your partner’s belief that you are in the wrong and worthless in comparison to them so your views and feelings don’t count
- Extreme reactions if you or anyone else questions your partner’s sense of self-importance or entitlement.
A narcissist is a challenge for anyone who lives with them as well as for divorce solicitors and the family court. That’s why it is important that you instruct a divorce solicitor with experience of dealing with those with narcissistic personality disorders and that you tell your divorce solicitor about the extent of the issues you’ve faced so they can help you.
You may not think that it matters whether or not your divorce solicitor knows about your partner’s narcissistic personality disorder traits but it is important. Examples of why it’s important are:
- If you have children then your partner’s narcissistic personality may be affecting the children and even influencing how they treat you as they are so used to seeing you belittled by your partner. That may influence your solicitor’s advice on the best child care arrangements to suit you and your circumstances and to reduce ongoing emotional harm to your children
- If your partner is a narcissistic person then family mediation is unlikely to be a sensible option to try to resolve financial or child care matters as your partner won’t listen to anyone’s views other than their own so you’d be better using either family arbitration or court proceedings to reach an enforceable decision
- If your partner exerts coercive and controlling behaviour then you may want to minimise future financial links with them. This could, for example, involve agreeing a clean break financial settlement rather than ongoing spousal maintenance so you get more capital rather than having to rely on your former partner paying regular spousal maintenance payments to you
- If your partner is abusive you may need the protection of an injunction order or a child arrangement order to best protect you and the children.
How can Evolve Family Law help me?
At Evolve Family Law our divorce solicitors will be very honest with you and tell you that they know, from experience, that starting divorce proceedings against someone with a narcissistic personality disorder is hard. You’ll therefore need all the help and expert support you can get. A narcissistic person needs to feel that they are in control and the winner. That may mean you have to start financial court proceedings to get financial disclosure from your partner and get a fair financial court order or mean you need a child arrangement order to restrict their contact with the children or an injunction order to stop the coercion and domestic abuse.
Our specialist divorce solicitors are not only experienced in securing these types of orders but are also adept at finding a way through divorce proceedings involving a partner with narcissistic personality traits.
Our Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors
For specialist divorce, children law and financial settlement advice speak to the divorce experts at Evolve Family Law or contact us online here. We are available for all your family law needs and for representation in court proceedings and also offer appointments by phone and video call.