Divorcing a Narcissist

How does a narcissist cope with divorce and its effect on you?

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We don’t so much care about a narcissist spouse’s coping mechanisms as much as we do about its impact. Once your divorce has ended, hopefully on a successful note for you, there is usually a period of healing that takes place. This healing, in a normal setting, can take many forms. With a narcissist ex spouse who still believes themselves to have been wronged, it can become an opportunity for “round 2” of the divorce where they believe the end is an opportunity for more misconduct.

This can lead to post divorce judgment requests for order on custody and support issues, although it isn’t limited to those two.

Some things you can do in such a situation are as follows. This does not include those that involve physical violence or child abuse. For those, contact law enforcement and seek a restraining order immediately.

  1. Avoid direct communication with the narcissist ex-spouse. Get court orders that limit communication about the children to the use of programs like Our Family Wizard. Take away the narcissist’s opportunity to engage and upset you.
  2. Keep the narcissist on a short leash when it comes to court orders. If the narcissist is supposed to pay you support and fails to do so, file a contempt action and seek attorney fees, issue a wage garnishment, and levy accounts. If the narcissist learns that you won’t tolerate nonpayment and there will be consequences, he or she may be more likely to pay on time. Of course, you can let it build up and collect the legal rate of interest and then collect a few months or a year or so down the line but be sure to consult with your divorce attorney about the best choice because there is a limited period you can proceed with contempt actions in California. Read our contempt page for more information.
  3. Keep custody exchanges without communication and curbside. Custody exchanges are an opportunity for the narcissist ex-spouse to disparage and threaten you, especially in front of the children because he or she knows that is the best opportunity to upset you. A curb-side exchange avoids communication and contact.
  4. Take parental alienation seriously. If the narcissist ex-spouse is starting to engage post divorce decree in parental alienation of the children from you, take it seriously. Consult your family law attorney for help and document the alienation with the narcissist or his or her lawyer and seek court intervention if it does not stop.
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