Help Your Client Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice for Divorce Attorneys
DUE TO COVID-19 AND OUR NEED TO ENSURE THE HEALTH OF OUR CLIENTS, ALL INITIAL CLIENT CONSULTATIONS WILL BE CONDUCTED BY PHONE. YOU MAY CALL US AT (480)305-8300 TO SCHEDULE A TELEPHONE CALL WITH ONE OF OUR EXPERIENCED FAMILY LAW ATTORNEYS.
You may have represented clients in hundreds of divorces, but when you come upon your first narcissist-spouse divorce, you won’t be prepared for it. Narcissists are both difficult to live with and tricky to divorce, and your client’s sanity and future depend on having capable legal counsel with a solid strategy to deal with her manipulative and controlling spouse.
Nothing beats experience in this type of divorce, so if another lawyer at your firm has dealt with narcissists in the past, you may want to team up with him or her to see how it’s done. Alternatively or in addition, here are some tips to get you started.
Learn About Narcissism So You Know What to Expect
“Narcissist” is a term used informally to mean someone with a big ego or who considers themselves attractive. But to mental health professionals, narcissism is a severe personality disorder that is just as serious and disruptive as a bipolar or borderline personality disorder. It is a disorder that develops early in a person’s life, usually as a result of abuse, bullying, or situations that made the person feel inferior.
It is manifested by an inflated, but profoundly weak, ego that becomes an ingrained part of the narcissist’s character over time. A narcissist lives a life of self-absorption and self-aggrandizement. They are unable to show empathy, thinks they are smarter and more capable than anyone else and considers themselves perfect and worthy of unconditional admiration.
Their habitual way of dealing with other people is to manipulate or intimidate them into doing their bidding. However, a narcissist can appear charming and charismatic when it suits him or her, which is generally when they want something from somebody.
Understand the Narcissist’s Behavior During a Divorce
A divorce is generally stressful to all concerned, and it can bring out the worst part of someone’s character, especially for the spouse who did not initiate it. However, don’t think for a minute that litigating a divorce against a narcissist will be like any other divorce you have ever handled. While each narcissist is an individual and may react differently, people with this personality disorder often consider the legal procedure a perfect stage for them to perform.
They become charming and persuasive during mediation and court hearings, but continue to bully and intimidate their spouses and their spouse’s attorney in every way imaginable, including • refusing to comply with financial discovery • lying about finances and withholding information • ignoring court orders and deadlines • turning the kids against the other parent • refusing to respect a parenting time schedule, and • running up attorney fees by fighting about every discovery request or motion.
Consider opting out of mediation to prevent grandstanding. Ask your client how he or she came to marry a narcissist, and your client will fill you in on their spouse’s potential for charm and winning ways — a type of manipulation the narcissist uses to win whatever it is they want. They will be sure to use this skill again if they find themselves in a mediation or arbitration run by someone unfamiliar with narcissism.
If you do have to participate in one of these options, look for a mediator or arbitrator who knows how to implement a highly structured process. You’ll want someone who knows how to force participants to stick to an agenda and who encourages attorney participation rather than emphasizing face-to-face interaction between the spouses.
Adapt strategies to keep the narcissist on a tight leash Forget everything you’ve learned about appealing to the better side of the opposition and building consensus. With a narcissist, you have to think short leash, adopting an approach that challenges the narcissist’s improper behavior in a firm way.
That means that you have to lay the groundwork early on for court intervention via restraining orders, motions to compel and motions for contempt. Keeping the narcissist on a short leash means being proactive with contempt motions and requests for monetary sanctions and attorney fees. The first time the narcissist is supposed to pay your client and fails to do so, file for contempt and seek attorney fees.
You can also ask for a wage garnishment order and/or an order to levy bank accounts. Consider whether you have grounds to file a domestic violence restraining order action and if so, file one. Even if the domestic violence happened some time before the divorce, you may be able to proceed with a restraining order.
Getting the narcissist out of the house and away from your client will make your representation much easier. If there is no history of domestic violence, but the narcissist harasses and tries to intimidate your client, you may still be able to obtain a restraining order. In some states, you can get a restraining order to prevent any behavior that disturbs the peace of the other party, including stalking, threatening, making annoying phone calls, and destroying property.
In short, let the narcissist know right up front that failure to follow court orders will not be tolerated. By constantly checking inappropriate behavior intended to intimidate your client, and penalizing the behavior with monetary sanctions, you will proceed further, faster for your client.
For more information on the effect narcissist has upon family dynamics, please read our other articles, including Are You Married to a Narcissist, Divorcing a Narcissist, and Child Custody and Narcissistic Personality Disorders, Child Support and the Narcissist and Choosing a Divorce Attorney Against a Narcissist.
If you need information about advice on divorcing a narcissist in Arizona, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona divorce attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in divorce cases in Arizona.
Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.
Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona divorce case around today.
Arizona Family Law Attorneys in Scottsdale and Tucson Arizona
More Articles About Divorce in Arizona
- The advantage of Filing Divorce First in Arizona
- Are Prenuptial Agreements Enforceable in Arizona
- Arizona Divorce
- Arizona Divorce Attorney Reviews
- Arizona Divorce Child Custody
- Arizona Divorce Debt
- Arizona Divorce Forms
- Arizona Divorce Laws
- Arizona Divorce Laws Alimony
- Arizona Divorce Laws and Statutes
- Arizona Divorce Laws on Adultery
- Arizona Divorce Papers
- Arizona Divorce Practice
- Arizona Divorce Process
- Arizona Divorce Records Search
- Arizona Marriage Laws
- Asset and Property Search in an Arizona Divorce
- Arizona Divorce When You Can’t Find Your Spouse
- Change to Maiden Name After Divorce in Arizona
- Changing Orders in an Arizona Divorce Decree
- Children and Divorce in Arizona
- College Expenses After Divorce in Arizona
- Complex Divorce Cases in Arizona
- Conciliation Court Services in Arizona
- Consent Required for Marriage of Minors in Arizona
- Considering the Children during a Divorce in Arizona
- Convert to a Covenant Marriage in Arizona
- Coping With Divorce in Arizona
- Court Services to Save a Marriage in Arizona
- Custody of the Family Pet in a Divorce in Arizona
- Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona
- Divorce After Legal Separation in Arizona
- Divorce and Children in Arizona
- Divorce Arizona
- Divorce Case is on the Inactive Calendar in Arizona
- Divorce Court Jurisdiction in Arizona
- Divorce in Arizona Without Children
- Divorce Procedures in Arizona
- Divorce Records in Arizona
- Divorce Statistics in Arizona
- Divorce Support Groups in Arizona
- Domestic Violence and Divorce in Arizona
- Effect of Adultery on an Arizona Divorce
- Effects of Divorce on Children in Arizona
- Enforceable Arizona Prenuptial Agreements
- Failure to Include an Issue in an Arizona Divorce
- Filing for Divorce in Arizona
- Filing for Divorce to Receive Alimony in Arizona
- Guide to Divorce for Men in Arizona
- High Asset Divorce in Arizona
- High Conflict Divorce in Arizona
- High Net Worth Divorce Arizona
- How is a Divorce Finalized in Arizona
- How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in Arizona
- How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in Arizona
- How Long Does it Take to Get Divorced in Arizona
- How Long Does Uncontested Divorce Take in Arizona
- How Long To Be Separated Before Divorce in Arizona
- How long to get Temporary Orders in Arizona
- How Much Does it Cost to Get a Divorce in Arizona
- How to Appeal a Divorce Decree in Arizona
- How To Find Good Divorce Attorney in Arizona
- How to Start a Divorce in Arizona
- Learn About Uncontested Divorce in Arizona
- Legally Separated File Divorce in Arizona
- Marital Settlement Agreement in Arizona
- The merger of the Settlement Agreement in Arizona
- Military Divorce Laws in Arizona
- Misled Into Signing Divorce Settlement in Arizona
- Modifying a Divorce Decree in Arizona
- No Contest Divorce in Arizona
- No-Fault Divorce in Arizona
- Order to Pay Spouses Attorney Fees in Arizona
- Parenting Class During a Divorce in Arizona
- Petition for Dissolution of Marriage in Arizona
- Protect Children in a Divorce in Arizona
- Quick Divorce in Arizona
- Reasons for Divorce in Arizona
- Reasons to File for Divorce in Arizona
- Represent Yourself in Arizona Divorce Case
- Same-Sex Divorce in Arizona
- Sealing Court Records in an Arizona Divorce
- Sell Home During Divorce in Arizona
- Selling Property During a Divorce in Arizona
- Served With Divorce Papers in Arizona
- Serving Divorce Papers by Publication in Arizona
- Should I Keep the House in a Divorce in Arizona
- Social Media Evidence in Divorce in Arizona
- Stop an Arizona Divorce
- Stop an Arizona Divorce if You Change Your Mind
- What Happens at a Resolution Management Conference in Arizona
- What Happens If the Divorce Case Goes to Trial in Arizona
- What Happens Temporary Orders Hearing in Arizona
- What is a Covenant Marriage in Arizona
- What is a Default Divorce in Arizona
- What is a Family Law Master in an Arizona Divorce Case
- What is a Preliminary Injunction in an Arizona Divorce
- What is a Temporary Orders Hearing in Arizona
- What is the Divorce Process in Arizona
- What Reasons Do I Need to Obtain a Divorce in a Covenant Marriage in Arizona
- What to do When Served with Divorce Papers in Arizona
- When Can I File For Divorce in Arizona
Chris Hildebrand wrote the information on this page about narcissist divorce advice to ensure everyone has access to information about family law in Arizona. Chris is a divorce and family law attorney at Hildebrand Law, PC. He has over 24 years of Arizona family law experience and has received multiple awards, including US News and World Report “Top Arizona Divorce Attorneys”, Phoenix Magazine “Top Divorce Law Firms”, and Arizona Foothills Magazine “Best of the Valley” award. He believes the policies and procedures he uses to get his clients through a divorce should all be guided by the principles of honesty, integrity, and, quite frankly, actually caring about what his clients are going through in a divorce or family law case. In short, his practice is defined by the success of his clients. He also manages all of the other attorneys at his firm to make sure the outcomes in their clients’ cases are successful as well.