Divorcing a narcissist
I like to see both parties where possible but if your ex is a narcissist that’s not going to work. My focus is on the children when I see a couple, but a narcissist is only interested in the conversation when the focus is on them. And it’s not possible to negotiate or mediate with an “it’s my way or the highway” narcissist so unfortunately going to court is often the only way in these cases. Sometimes this means multiple court proceedings – for children, financial settlement, non-molestation/occupation orders etc.
If you’ve not yet separated, please be aware that parents sometimes regret leaving a partner who is also abusive to the children: they come to realise they were better able to protect the children from within the marriage than when they are out of it and have to send the children to court ordered contact.
Residence and contact proceedings for children can be exceptionally difficult. Very few Cafcass officers understand the gaslighting and abuse of the narcissist, and judges have even less idea. Mothers tend not to be believed when they complain about abuse, and the attitude of the courts is “contact with father at all costs”. Sometimes it costs the children dearly.
Narcissists are usually charmers, and will talk the judge into believing their every word. Their victims can be cowed by many years of abuse and unable to compete with their ex who will often see to it that they don’t have the money for legal representation. And even if they do, finding a solicitor or barrister who understands what they’re dealing with is a challenge.
There are several different types of narcissist, including the covert narcissist. The ‘poor me’ person plays the victim and makes it harder to spot them and harder for the court to know who is the victim and who the perpetrator.
I have supported several victims of narcissists through the daunting process of their divorce. If you have a solicitor I can give you the additional support and guidance you will need in your particularly difficult case. If you can’t afford, or don’t want a solicitor, I can guide you through the legal process, help you with your paperwork and find you a McKenzie Friend or direct access barrister for your court hearings. If you are wanting to protect your children, and maybe you already have a contact or residence order, I can help you find the courage you need until you are finally believed in court.
You might also be interested in reading the ‘Legal Structure of Divorce’ a two-minute guide to divorce proceedings.