Divorce can be stressful and financially burdensome. This is why most divorcing couples welcome the idea of resolving things amicably and staying out of court. Collaborative divorce can help keep costs low and minimize conflict.
However, narcissists, or people with narcissistic characteristics, are not like most people. A collaborative divorce with a narcissistic spouse brings particular concerns that the other spouse should consider. Below, the attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP explain some challenges of collaborative divorce with narcissists. Contact us today to speak to a collaborative divorce lawyer about your case.
What Is Narcissism?
The term “narcissist” has gained much attention lately, but few people truly understand narcissism. Thus, to understand the specific challenges of collaborative divorce with narcissists, you must first understand the definition of narcissism.
A narcissist is someone who is overly concerned with their own needs. At the same time, they are obsessed with gaining approval or a feeling of superiority from others. Often, they need people to admire them. Sometimes, they need people to see them as the victim, regardless of whether they bear fault in any particular situation. Their relationships are often superficial because they only need people in their lives for their own fulfillment.
Types of Narcissism
The spectrum of narcissism ranges from people with narcissistic characteristics to those diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). People with narcissistic traits rarely seek therapy or treatment for their behavior; thus, most narcissists are not officially diagnosed with NPD.
The Collaborative Divorce Process
A collaborative divorce allows the spouses to divorce with minimal court intervention. Instead, the spouses negotiate the terms of their divorce with the help of their attorneys. Their attorneys must be specially trained to handle collaborative divorces.
The spouses and their lawyers meet separately and together to negotiate and settle the terms of their divorce. They may use experts such as accountants to help understand the financial aspects of the divorce.
Typically, both spouses sign an agreement that they will not go to court and instead resolve the case through this collaborative process. However, they’ll have to go to court if they cannot negotiate a resolution to their divorce. Collaborative divorce attorneys typically withdraw from the case if the divorce goes to court.
Collaborative Divorce with Narcissists: Considerations
The notion of narcissism in a collaborative divorce may seem contradictory. However, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to seek a collaborative divorce with a narcissistic spouse. If you can convince your narcissist spouse that the collaborative divorce is their idea or that it’s in their best interest, you may be able to avail yourself of this process. Below are some points to consider when divorcing a narcissist.
Safety Is Most Important
Please note your safety is of utmost importance. If you are considering a divorce from a narcissistic spouse and you’re afraid, speak with your lawyer about this immediately. Call the police right away if you’re in danger. A narcissistic spouse may retaliate if they feel threatened.
Let Your Lawyer Do the Arguing
A narcissistic spouse often needs to be seen as the victim in the divorce, regardless of their actual level of blame. As such, they may make baseless claims or accuse you of false things. Discuss your concerns with your attorney and have a game plan for every meeting where your spouse will be present. Stick with the plan and trust your attorney to argue for you.
Gather Evidence Before Discussing Divorce
Before discussing divorce with your spouse, gather as much evidence as possible. This includes financial documents, bank records, mortgage statements, and child custody-related documents. You want the collaborative divorce professionals to have accurate information to help you through the negotiations, and you cannot trust that your spouse will provide it.
Don’t Agree Just to Keep the Peace
Sometimes, people in relationships with narcissists are used to taking the blame just to keep the peace. However, you don’t want to give up your rights in a divorce. Now is the time to begin to take back your power. Discuss the things most important to you with your attorney, and they’ll help you push back against unreasonable demands.
Be Prepared for a Narcissist to Reject Collaborative Divorce
Collaborative divorce with narcissists is possible. However, your collaborative divorce may fail because of the narcissist’s specific characteristics—the need to win or be seen as the victim. Or perhaps your spouse rejects the idea of collaborative divorce outright. Thus, your divorce may have to go through the judicial process.
Do not fret. Find an experienced divorce litigator familiar with narcissism and who has handled divorces against spouses with challenging personalities. They’ll be able to prepare you for the road ahead. They’ll fight for your best interests even if you’ve run out of steam from the years of dealing with your narcissistic spouse.
Contact Our Attorneys
Whether you wish to pursue a regular or collaborative divorce with a narcissist, you need the trusted counsel of an experienced family attorney like those at Pakpour Banks LLP. We have handled divorces with narcissists and other challenging personality types. We’re compassionate attorneys who work to keep our client’s needs central to our representation. We’re here to help you heal and rebuild in this difficult time. Contact us today.