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The only thing harder than being married to a narcissist, is divorcing one

May 4, 2023

Carr & Co

By Abbey Ross, Graduate Law Clerk

If you are going through a separation and your ex-partner exhibits narcissistic traits, this might very well be one of the biggest fights of your life.

Your ex-partner may exhibit characteristics to their peers which include charisma, an ability to persuade, self confidence and a drive to overachieve.

However, under the surface they may display arrogant thinking, a lack of empathy and a need for constant admiration from those around them.

It is time to take your power back, find yourself an experienced family lawyer and strap yourself in – this may be a rough ride.

What is narcissism?

A formal diagnosis for narcissism disorder is required from a suitable qualified medical practitioner.  The requirements for a diagnosis can be found in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5).

Narcissistic personality disorder refers to a type of personality disorder that is closely related to self-centredness. It can be explained as a serious emotional disturbance categorised by a grandiose or extremely exaggerated, sense of self importance. Sound familiar?

Someone that exhibits narcissistic traits will often play the victim, go to extreme lengths to punish their ex-partner, and are often sneaky, devious and master manipulators.

Scared yet? Don’t be.

Their reign of power over you can end when you say it does. When a settlement is reached, and a divorce is finalised, it may assist you in finding your inner strength and regaining control over your circumstances.

Should you decide to take the step and set some major boundaries with your ex-partner, you may find their narcissistic characteristic worsen. Particularly, if you commence proceedings in the Family Court of Western Australia.

A narcissist is likely to exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain and require constant admiration. Their ego is fed by manipulating and influencing other people’s emotions like fear and anger, as well as pitting people against each other to get what they want.

A narcissist will often repeat fabricated fiction and present it as fact. This often leads to questioning their own understanding of reality. Sound familiar? Gas-lighting in its finest form.

Whilst neither lawyers nor ex partners have the ability to diagnose the other party, it is sometimes useful to have an understanding about the personality traits of the other party when approaching a separation and the negotiations that will undoubtedly ensue.

Narcissism in divorce proceedings

It is important to remember that a person who exhibits narcissistic personality traits may attempt to drag out proceedings and try to use the Family Court legal system to manipulate you.

By taking your power back, you are breaking the cycle of coercive control.

A party exhibits narcissist personality traits may attempt exploit all of your downfalls during family court proceedings. For example, if you have experienced mental health issues in the past, they may try and use this against you to support their case strategy.

In the event you think you are separating from a narcissist, we suggest you:

  1. find yourself a specialist divorce and family lawyer;
  2. pick your battles wisely;
  3. practice self-care;
  4. set strict boundaries; and
  5. prepare a strong support network.

It is also crucial to have a broad perspective throughout proceedings.

Family Court proceedings can generally be financially and emotionally draining, and if your former partner has narcissistic traits, it is likely to be difficult to reach a settlement you deem reasonable.

The outcome of your matter may be the deciding factor of what your future will look and feel like, so it is important to put yourself in the best position possible.

The lawyers at Carr & Co are specialised professionals who deal with these types of issues and personalities frequently. Our lawyers use strategic and forward focused thinking with the dedication to achieve a prompt and cost-effective outcome for their clients.