Going through a divorce is difficult enough when your spouse is “normal.” (Well, normal for someone you no longer want to spend the rest of your life with.) Divorcing a narcissist is tougher because spouses who put themselves first are much more likely to litigate contested issues instead of trying to resolve them. Narcissistic spouses focus on trying to control the other spouse instead of focusing on new relationships and a new life.

Narcissistic spouses are all too common. Don’t think you’re alone. There are videos, support groups, and even books that have been written about the narcissistic spouse. The New York Times even has a “Well Book Club where members discuss books about personal health and family – and one of their recent selections deals exactly with this issue.

How to recognize a narcissist

Mydomaine.com lists some of the traits a spouse should recognize to understand if your spouse is a narcissist. The narcissistic spouse:

  • Needs to be correct
  • Doesn’t appear to have a conscience
  • Needs to be in control
  • Feels the need to impress you
  • Pretends to care only when it helps him/her manipulate you
  • Doesn’t let go of resentment
  • Never admits fault
  • Is jealous of your success or the success of others

Other traits of a narcissistic spouse include the need to win, seeing truth as relative, and a lack of empathy.

Some of the ways a skilled divorce lawyer helps counter the narcissistic spouse

Experienced family lawyers anticipate the strategies self-centered spouses take during a divorce. We are ready to counter these strategies and help guide you through these extra difficulties in your path to a new life:

  • Economic pressure. The narcissistic spouse will seek to use any economic leverage they have – which is why it is critical you work with a skilled divorce lawyer who will seek temporary alimony so you have the funds to fight through the divorce.
  • The narcissistic spouse will seek to make the divorce process last as long as possible as a way of focusing your attention and the court’s attention on the narcissistic spouse. The counters are persistence and motions to make the narcissistic spouse pay for taking frivolous positions and forcing unreasonable delays.
  • A refusal to negotiate. Many cases can be settled through negotiation. Some divorces are resolved through mediation or a collaborative divorce. Skilled family lawyers only consent to negotiations when it’s clear the other spouse is willing to play fair. Otherwise, we prepare your case for a resolution by the judge
  • The need to attack you. The narcissist will do everything he/she can do to focus on all your negatives and flaws. We work to convince the family court officials and judge that you’re the adult in the room.

Often the narcissist is working against his/her own interests. Skilled lawyers work with counselors, your other family members, coworkers and friends to show what a wonderful person you are. We also explain that judges often don’t like spouses who try to smear their partners.

Our lawyers use the delays, refusals to negotiate, and other narcissistic traits to emphasize why:

  • Child custody and parenting plans need to be crafted to protect your children and help minimize contact with your spouse after the divorce.
  • Property division awards should be designed so that all property issues are resolved immediately instead of including any long-term payments. We fight to help you keep your marital home.
  • You need to methodically keep records of your expenditures and the misconduct of your spouse. We advise clients that, in most cases, returning serve by being just as nasty rarely improves your divorce.
  • It’s important to limit contact, especially physical contact, with your spouse as much as possible so you don’t feel under pressure. It helps to force your narcissistic spouse to communicate in writing so that there’s a written record of any undue pressures.

Additionally, if you are being abused, we fight to obtain protection orders for you and your children.

At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we handle the complex divorces including difficult spouses and high-asset cases. We understand when negotiation works and when spouses need to present their case before a judge. With offices in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood, clients can easily access our offices. During the pandemic, we’re also working to conduct our practice remotely. Call our office at 615-977-9370 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.