There are many issues that arise during a divorce, but what can make the entire process extremely difficult is when one spouse has a personality disorders that influences the path of the marriage dissolution. One of the major problems with this situation is that the public perception of the spouse with the personality disorder may be that he or she is charismatic and charming, while the reality behind the scenes is someone who is manipulative and dangerously aggressive, lashing out when the facts challenge the reality that he has created. It is a challenge to convince the court that the public persona is not the real individual. This is particularly stressful if there are children involved in the divorce.
One of the biggest problems with trying to get through a divorce action with an individual with a narcissistic or other borderline personality disorder is the fact that it is hard to get the trier-of-fact and other individuals to believe that the charming person in front of them really will not adhere to the custody and visitation agreement, nor will they cooperate in any agreement that is issued by the court.
However, there are some things that can be done.
There are some things that a person going through the process of dissolving a marriage can do to ensure a lower stress divorce proceeding:
Hold fast to the truth
– the narcissist and individuals with other borderline personality disorders understand how to manipulate and undermine others around them. By focusing on the facts and refusing to be drawn into the dishonesty and projections of the other person, it is easier to fight for what is important;
Do Not Give-in to Gain Ground
– while compromise and letting go of certain issues are important aspects of divorce in most situations, it is important to remember that individuals with narcissistic or other borderline personality disorders are used to getting what they want without sacrificing anything that they deem important. In the minds of these individuals, their spouse is supposed to give in to what they want, so negotiation is not very effective. Remaining calm while supporting a position with evidence is the best tactic in a divorce with a narcissist;
Focus on the best interest of the child(ren)
– even when there is a parent with narcissistic or other borderline personality disorder, it is possible to work with the court to develop an order that places the best interest of the child at the forefront of the divorce. Emphasizing the necessity for safety and stability can ensure that the order focuses on crafting a plan that prioritizes the needs of the child. Often, when the children are old enough to express an opinion about the parents and what they want, they can articulate the inconsistency in the parent’s public and private persona in a way that the court can understand and to which it can respond in the final order; and
Work with the court on crafting the language of the order
– when one of the parties has a narcissistic or borderline personality disorder, it is critical to have a very clear divorce order that does not provide any room for the former spouse to find a way to circumvent the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.
There are no easy solutions to dealing with a narcissistic or other borderline personality disorder during a divorce. The very fact that there is a divorce means that the narcissist has lost control over the situation, so there will be attempts to undermine his or her spouse and attempt to get his way through manipulation and outright lies. By retaining the right divorce attorney, it is possible to develop an effective legal strategy to counter the negativity of the individual being divorced.
For a greater examination of litigating or divorcing a narcissist, watch our webinar on the topic.