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10 Legal Tips For Divorcing a Narcissist

Published: Sep 29, 2023 in Child Custody, Divorce, Legal Blog, Protection From Abuse (PFA)

Written by Anthony Piccirilli

A narcissist isn’t just someone who’s self-absorbed – they can be emotionally abusive. This trait is often amplified in a marriage, leaving partners trapped in a vicious cycle of self-doubt, manipulation, and fear.

If you’re here, you’re looking to divorce your narcissistic spouse and should be proud of yourself for taking such a difficult step. But you should also be prepared for what’s to come. When your spouse is a narcissist, divorce can be complicated and draining. You’ll need help from a passionate legal professional.

Here are 10 tips to keep in mind when separating from a narcissistic ex in Pennsylvania so you can prepare and protect yourself:

1. Educate Yourself on Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is exactly what the name suggests: a disorder. But those with NPD are unlikely to seek treatment because they struggle to see a problem with how they think or behave.

If you’re planning on divorcing someone with NPD, you should know more about the disorder to help you anticipate your ex’s next moves, understand how to approach the divorce, and learn the best ways to take care of your own needs throughout the process. You are not alone.

Here are some signs you are in a marriage with a narcissist:

  • Your spouse has a highly inflated sense of self, i.e., “delusions of grandeur”
  • They believe they are “special” and feel entitled to special treatment
  • They lack empathy or remorse for others
  • You feel as if you’re always “walking on eggshells” around them
  • They grossly exaggerate their achievements, status, or talents
  • They demand attention and admiration from others (and become upset when they don’t get it)
  • They fail to take accountability for themselves, blaming their bad behavior on you or other people
  • Your partner can only be around other people they see as “special” or “important”
  • They are preoccupied with power, money, beauty, perfection, or success
  • You find yourself doubting your own experiences and emotions as a result of their gaslighting

These are just some traits of a narcissist, and having one or two of these qualities doesn’t necessarily mean your spouse has NP. They may be a narcissist if they consistently disregard others and focus on themselves to the point where it interferes with your relationship.

2. Hire an Experienced Pittsburgh Divorce Attorney

You deserve a divorce lawyer who will protect you, your assets, and your best interests throughout the process. This is especially true when your ex has NPD and is set on always getting their way.

Hiring a decent lawyer isn’t enough if you’re divorcing a narcissist in Pennsylvania. You need a knowledgeable attorney with specific experience handling high-conflict cases and manipulative personalities. As a divorce lawyer with over a decade of experience, Anthony Piccirilli has seen it all. Our legal team is equipped to navigate any difficulties you may face and pursue the best outcome for you.

3. Consider an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested (or “no-fault”) divorce is a way to terminate your marriage within a few months as opposed to a couple years – something that may be desirable when your ex is a narcissist. You could move on with your life sooner, avoiding the headache of a contested divorce with your ex.

Even if there are grounds for your divorce based on your spouse’s narcissistic behaviors, you might still opt for a no-fault divorce. This essentially means that both of you agree on important decisions like custody, alimony, and property division.

Unfortunately, a narcissistic ex may not be willing to cooperate, making an uncontested divorce nearly impossible. However, if they committed domestic violence or another form of abuse against you, their consent is automatic. Regardless, there are other types of divorce that your attorney can advise you on.

4. Document Their Abuse

Keep a record of any abusive behavior and your reasons for wanting the divorce. Your attorney can help you collect and preserve text messages, voicemails, e-mails, police reports, medical documents, letters – any tangible evidence that can help your case.

As a narcissist, your ex will likely struggle to accept blame and admit fault throughout the divorce. While this can be incredibly frustrating, you must remain calm and present the courts with the facts. Evidence of your ex’s abuse can help the courts see your side of the story.

5. Limit Direct Contact with Your Spouse

It can be incredibly difficult to distance yourself from a narcissistic ex, even if you know you need to. However, limiting face-to-face communication with them can help you create the space you need to move forward in life once and for all.

Additionally, cutting off direct contact can also allow you to document your interactions with them more easily. For example, requiring that they text you rather than talk to you gives you a virtual trail of evidence that may be useful later. And if you don’t want to reach out to your ex at all, your lawyer can serve as an efficient third party, handling all communications with them in writing so you can focus on yourself.

6. File a Restraining Order if Needed

If there is a history of abuse, you should absolutely consider filing a restraining order or protection from abuse order against your narcissistic ex.

Your attorney can quickly gather information about your ex’s abuse and complete the necessary paperwork, including a petition that we will submit to your local county courthouse in Pittsburgh. You must attend hearings, but we can handle the legal issues while you focus on your physical and emotional recovery.

7. Prepare for Delays

Divorce is hard enough, but divorcing someone with a narcissistic personality poses unique challenges. Your ex might do or say whatever they can to get what they want – even if that means lying under oath. They may try to undermine your side of the story, stall and delay your divorce, or otherwise try to hurt your chances of getting a fair outcome.

Remember: a narcissist will want to maintain control over the situation. It’s important stay patient, calm, and composed throughout the Pennsylvania divorce process. You should discuss the best ways to handle delays in your contested divorce with your attorney.

8. Protect Your Children

If you have children with an abusive narcissist, your kids’ safety is crucial. Protect them with the help of an understanding and accomplished child custody attorney. Your lawyer will discuss the factors the court will consider in your child custody case and help you gather evidence supporting your desires. Without the help of an attorney, the courts only see the inaccurate picture painted by your manipulative ex.

9. Maintain Financial Independence

Many narcissists struggle with relinquishing their perceived “power” over others. As a result, a spouse with NPD may have a hard time letting you take custody, obtain alimony, recover any marital assets, or otherwise get the fair outcome you deserve from your divorce. Take extra precautions to ensure they don’t try and take advantage of you during your separation.

Monitor your joint bank accounts or consider opening a separate one so you can have financial freedom from your ex. Your divorce lawyer will ensure your assets are accounted for and that your narcissistic spouse does not try and claim what isn’t rightfully theirs. When it comes to your children, Anthony Piccirilli will fight hard to ensure they are kept safe and that the courts fully consider your child’s best interests.

10. Practice Self-Care During and After Your Divorce

Both marriage and divorce with a narcissist can be incredibly taxing on your well-being. Make sure you prioritize yourself and practice self-care throughout the process. While your attorney can provide valuable resources and essential legal guidance, you should always have a support system to rely on during this difficult time. Know when to set boundaries, take breaks, and ask for help.

Contact Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC Today

Anyone going through a divorce should have an attorney on their side to help them navigate the separation process. However, if you’re divorcing a narcissist, the process can be especially complicated, drawn-out, and exhausting. At Pittsburgh Divorce and Family Law, LLC, attorney Anthony Piccirilli is prepared to go up against your narcissistic ex and help you finally get the freedom you deserve – no matter what it takes.

Contact Pittsburgh divorce lawyer Anthony Piccirilli today for a confidential consultation at (412) 471-5100.