How to Negotiate a Divorce Settlement With a Narcissist
Negotiating a divorce settlement is often challenging. Lots of practical details and emotions can get in the way of resolving the big issues, like dividing property, alimony, child custody, and child support. The negotiation process becomes even more difficult when your soon-to-be ex-spouse is a narcissist.
Narcissists typically demand attention and are often aggressive toward others. The need to domineer and be right, along with a lack of empathy, can quickly make a divorce contentious. The traits of a narcissistic personality mean you have to be extremely prepared when headed into a divorce. You need to work with a Boston divorce & family law attorney to fully understand your legal rights, your options, and how to best approach a difficult spouse.
What Is a Narcissist?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a condition in which a person inflates their importance, according to the Mayo Clinic. If your spouse has a narcissistic personality, they have a deep-seated need for attention and admiration. One of the core features of NPD is a lack of empathy for others. People with NPD have troubled relationships with relatives, friends, and coworkers.
Trying to resolve a divorce with someone who is narcissistic means you may have to deal with someone who has feelings of superiority over you and monopolizes conversations. Your spouse may try to intimidate, belittle, and manipulate you. They will likely refuse to recognize your feelings or needs.
Your spouse may not have NPD, despite the narcissism you have experienced during your marriage and divorce. Their lack of empathy may be a symptom of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), which is a disorder associated with having no conscience.
Narcissism and lack of empathy are on a spectrum. Your spouse may exhibit some of these behaviors and not the others. The degree to which your spouse exhibits various narcissistic personality characteristics can vary. No matter the extent to which your spouse is narcissistic, it is likely to impact your divorce proceedings.
What to Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist
When going through a divorce with a narcissist, you should expect your spouse to focus on “winning” and gaming the court system. Expect your spouse to try to use the court system against you during and even after the divorce. Always remain calm and stand your ground.
Your spouse may file motion after motion, accuse you of abuse, neglectful parenting, adultery, or lying about your finances. There maybe setbacks along the way, but if you are persistent and have good legal advice, you will come out on top at the end.
You cannot expect a narcissist to feel empathy for you. Your spouse may have acted as if they cared about your feelings in the past. This likely will not extend to the divorce. Do not expect to be able to use an emotional argument to reach a fair agreement.
Your spouse’s lack of empathy also applies to your children. Your spouse may not focus on what is best for your children. They may use them as a tool to get what they want or hurt you.
Negotiating a Settlement May Not Be Possible
Before attempting to negotiate a divorce settlement with a narcissist, consider whether it is possible to reach fair terms yourselves. For narcissists, winning means that their opponent gives up and gives in to whatever the narcissist demanded, no matter how ridiculous.
A narcissist will typically refuse to be reasonable during meditation or other settlement negotiations. They might make absurd offers, stall the negotiations, accuse you of wrongdoing, and refuse to budge.
If you wish to attempt mediation with your spouse, be prepared for the process to be difficult and to stand firm on what you need from the divorce. Talk with your Boston divorce attorney about your spouse’s difficult personality and tendencies. Develop a strategy for how to handle mediation sessions as well as when you will end negotiations and ask the judge to make a decision.
Some negotiation strategies you can use are:
- Gather as much paperwork as you can as soon as you can. Once the divorce begins, your spouse might make it difficult to gain access to your financial and tax records. Gather as many records as you can, including all of your banking and credit card statements, other investment records, your retirement savings records, any records of loans or other debt, and several years of tax returns.
- Clearly define what you need and what you can let go of. Knowing there are certain things you can give up can make it seem like your spouse is “winning.”
- Get a therapist or counselor involved for your children. A narcissistic spouse and parent will have no qualms about using children as pawns during a divorce. By having your children see a therapist or counselor, you give them an outlet to deal with the divorce. You also may have an objective third-party opinion regarding how the spouse’s behavior has impacted the children and the parenting arrangement that is best for them.
- Be prepared to leave your emotions at the door. You must strive to control your emotions and refrain from careless or impulsive responses. Your spouse may try to get you to become angry or hostile during negotiations. Losing your temper can make you look bad before the judge.
- Set boundaries. A narcissistic spouse may try to communicate with you outside of the courtroom or meditation sessions. Be clear about restricting communication with them as to what is necessary for parenting. Channel communications through your lawyer when necessary.
Mediation May Not Be Appropriate
Negotiating a divorce settlement is not appropriate if you have been the victim of narcissistic abuse, which is a form of emotional or psychological abuse perpetrated by someone with NPD or ASPD.
Attempting to negotiate a divorce settlement with an abuser places you at a significant disadvantage. There is no way to correct the power imbalance, and the negotiation sessions can lead to further abuse.
Talk With a Boston Divorce & Family Law Attorney Today
Divorcing a narcissist is difficult, but it is not impossible. You can obtain a divorce and achieve a resolution that is fair. Doing so relies heavily on having the right attorney by your side. At Infinity Law Group, we understand what you are up against when divorcing a narcissistic spouse.
We are prepared to fight for what is best for you and your children. Contact us today through our online form or call (617) 250-8236 to reach out to the main office in Quincy, MA.