High Conflict Divorce with a Narcissist

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“Divorcing a narcissist can be more difficult than being married to one,” — Unknown

Narcissism might sound like it’s an objective psychological trait, but narcissistic personality disorder is a very real thing. Characterized by an almost obsessive desire for excessive attention and admiration, clinical narcissists have an inflated sense of their own self-importance.

Divorcing someone with narcissistic qualities, therefore, can be an excruciating experience. A narcissist might be unable to take responsibility for their actions and blame their ex-partner for their current predicament, often resulting in a long and drawn-out court case that can take a toll on everyone involved.

In this guide, learn about high-conflict divorces like the one described above and strategies for dealing with a narcissist in and out of the courtroom.

What is a Narcissistic Divorce in Connecticut?

With nearly 20 years of experience in family law in Connecticut, I’ve met many women (and some men) who have described their partners as narcissists. But what does this mean?

A narcissist, by definition, is someone who has an “excessive interest in or admiration of themselves.” They think the world revolves around them. They might be vain, conceited, self-obsessed, self-centered, or self-regarding. “High and mighty.” “Full of oneself.” “A know-it-all.” These are just some of the descriptions I’ve heard from previous clients in high-conflict divorces.

Lots of words get thrown around in a divorce, and ‘narcissist’ is one of the most common, in my opinion. I try not to get caught up in semantics and judge each case on its own merits. I always find the best resolution for my clients, regardless of someone’s personality characteristics. ‘Narcissistic’ partners can present as many problems as introverted, reserved, conniving, competitive, or aggressive ones. That’s because all extreme personality traits can get in the way of what matters most in any divorce case — healthy communication.

However, egocentric partners present a unique set of challenges in a high-conflict divorce or separation. They can often twist the truth to make their partner look like a bad person — someone who is responsible for the divorce. This truth-twisting can have a detrimental impact on the outcome of a divorce case. In cases involving children, narcissistic partners might convince a judge that their partner is incapable of looking after their children. As a result, the court might rule a child custody arrangement in the narcissist’s favor, which can have devastating consequences on the other partner.

In my experience, narcissists go out of their way to make divorce really unpleasant for the other person. There’s research that suggests the same. Egomaniacs typically do everything in their power to prolong conflict in a divorce, resulting in a lengthier, more complicated, and more expensive court case.

How to Get a Successful Outcome When Divorcing a Narcissistic Partner

Trying to reason with a narcissistic partner is futile. Accept their shortcomings and consult with an experienced family law attorney in Connecticut who can help you find the best solution in your particular circumstances.

Although it depends on your unique case, it’s typically best to stay out of court when dealing with a narcissist who thrives on attention. Your partner might persuade a judge that you were a ‘bad’ spouse or parent, leading to an unfavorable judgment. I suggest resolving your conflicts outside of the courtroom, either by mediation or collaborative law, where you and your partner negotiate your divorce through family law attorneys. In both of these scenarios, there’s no hearing. No judge. No long and drawn-out court case. Away from the courtroom and without a platform for attention, a narcissist might be more willing to compromise on key issues in your divorce case. Marriage therapy might also be a good idea, but it could be too late for that.

Another piece of advice I give to my clients in situations like these is to try to rise above the drama. That’s easier said than done, especially when an egotist wants to make your life a living hell. But emotionally detaching yourself from the situation, as best as you can, is much better for your mental health. Let your attorney communicate with your narcissistic partner (or their divorce attorney) while you focus on rebuilding your life.

Final Word

Narcissistic partners can make divorce far more complicated than it needs to be. If your ex-partner has an inflated sense of their own self-importance, take a deep breath and consult with a qualified divorce attorney immediately. Collaborative law and other conflict resolution strategies can achieve a better outcome in your divorce and prevent further hurt feelings and high-conflict scenarios.

Are you divorcing a narcissistic partner in Connecticut? With over 20 years of experience, Rich Rochlin can resolve conflict, solve problems, and help you navigate Connecticut’s complicated legal system. Click here to get started. 

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