How To Divorce A Narcissistic Spouse?

husband and spouse sitting on bed while being upset on each other.

Narcissists often thrive on control, manipulation, and winning at any cost, which can make your divorce process more stressful. They may use tactics such as gaslighting, financial withholding, and using children as pawns to prolong and complicate the process. Though finding the right approach sounds tricky, a lot can be achieved with strength and dignity. 

Here are 7 actionable steps to take when divorcing a narcissistic spouse: 

1. Find An Attorney Right Away 

Talk to a supportive family lawyer that understands the situation and whom you are comfortable sharing with. Look for a lawyer that’ll advocate fiercely on your behalf. Interview 3-4 lawyers before making your decision and ask friends and family for references. Divorcing a narcissist is often an aggressive process, so you should have a lawyer that’s not phased by threats, violence, and tense situations. 

2. Document Everything

Keep detailed records of all interactions, financial transactions, and parenting issues. This could be chat screenshots, videos, and pictures, written notes or videos from witnesses. Having your close friends and family on your side is an important part of this. As a narcissist, your spouse might try to manipulate them, so get to them beforehand, and give them an honest picture of what your marriage looks like. 

3. Understand Your Finances

Since divorce is an expensive process, you will need savings and a good credit score if you need a personal loan. Before asking for a divorce, pick up more hours at work or find a new job, so you can set aside money in another savings account. Read up on what you are entitled to as per Ontario law and seek out a personal finance manager for more advice. 

a man sitting alone on a park bench by a lake

4. No More Direct Communications

Cut down on all communication with your narcissistic spouse. Any necessary communication should be through your attorney or any stated forms of communications. If kids are involved, you should only communicate through parenting apps. Record all phone call conversations and always speak in your family lawyer’s presence. 

5. Prepare for Custody Battles 

Narcissists use kids as pawns and what ensues are prolonged custody battles. As soon as you ask for separation, talk about a parenting plan that minimises communication and lowers chances of them influencing kids. Do not allow any changes in schedules, no matter how bad they make you feel for it. Children need stability, especially during a divorce, so prioritise their needs while keeping yourself.  

6. Seek Support from Friends and Family

Lean on friends and family for emotional support and a much-needed sense of normalcy. Keep them in loop with any major progress. Continue attending family parties, dinners, and initiate activities as it will take your mind off the more serious matters in your hands. 

7. Find a Trauma Therapist

A therapist who specialises in narcissistic abuse can offer strategies to cope with the emotional stress, deal with traumatic experiences, and help you rebuild your sense of self. At the same time, find activities that bring you joy and relaxation, whether it is a sport or gardening. 

What you can expect during the process 

Your divorce process will likely be a marathon, not a sprint. Narcissists often draw out legal proceedings in an attempt to maintain control and inflict emotional pain. Expect a range of tactics designed to intimidate or wear you down, including sudden generosity or public displays of affection to sway your decision. Stay focused on your long-term well-being and the reasons behind your decision to divorce.

Sterling Law is here to support you through this legal battle. Our family lawyers have handled cases similar to yours in the last 30 years and promise to always keep your best interests in mind. Please reach out to us for a 15-minute free consultation.

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