Narcissistic personality disorder affects around 1 in 200 people. Though not every person who’s suffering from narcissistic personality disorder will be divorced, it isn’t uncommon for people with personality disorders to go through a divorce. This is especially true for people who have undiagnosed personality disorders. If you’re going through a divorce, or considering filing, and your spouse is suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, knowing what you can expect from your spouse and the divorce process can help you protect yourself.
Is Divorcing a Narcissist Different?
Divorcing a person suffering with narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD, is a lot like divorcing a person without a personality disorder. A person with NPD still has the same rights as you regarding custody, child support, alimony, and asset division. The primary difference is that you’re more likely to have a high conflict divorce. This is especially true if both parties have a personality disorder. The stages you’ll go through in your divorce with a person suffering from narcissistic personality disorder won’t be different from divorces where neither party has a personality disorder. However, if your spouse has NPD, these stages might take a little longer.
How the Divorce Process Works
Divorce can be quick and cheap—but only if you and your spouse can reach an agreement quickly and without the need to seek court intervention. First, one party, known as the petitioner, will file for the divorce. The respondent will be served a petition. The petition for divorce is kind of like a wish list in which the person requests everything the court could possibly grant. In many cases they ask for more than they could be awarded pursuant to the law. It’s important to keep this in perspective and not get too worked up about what is in the petition itself. Most people file the petition asking for a lot, but they’re usually willing to negotiate. If the requests in the petitioner’s petition are reasonable and agreeable, the respondent can simply accept the terms their spouse has requested in their petition. However, most people want to negotiate a few items and this is what makes a divorce take longer than just the waiting period. When both parties absolutely cannot agree, they may have to go to court and have a judge decide. In the event that both parties come to an agreement, the final and required documents must be prepared and filed with the court. This can be done by the parties or their respective attorneys. However, most people want to negotiate a few items and this is what makes a divorce take longer than just the waiting period. When both parties absolutely cannot agree, they may have to go to court and have a judge decide. And this can make the process even longer.
Understanding Your Spouse
Remember, narcissistic personality disorder is a mental illness. People with narcissistic personality disorder interact with the world differently than people who do not have personality disorders. People suffering from NPD also have a different view of their relationships, themselves, and an overall different world view. Based on your spouse’s world view, your spouse may believe that they are conducting themselves in an appropriate, reasonable, and fair manner. They may struggle to recognize that their behavior isn’t normal or appropriate. Though they’re still completely responsible for their actions, they often cannot do better because they actually don’t know better. This doesn’t make their behavior okay, or acceptable. But this means that you need to set your expectations accordingly. Oftentimes, it means you’ll have to limit your communications with them in order to protect yourself and your mental health.
With the aforementioned in mind, you may have to do things differently when it comes to negotiating who is getting what. Many people make unreasonable demands during divorce just to spite their significant other. Some people will even go so far as to fight over small items such as items that only have sentimental value, or very little monetary value. Picking just a few things that you’d like to fight for can help minimize the conflict in your divorce. This way, the divorce get dragged out longer than it needs to be. It may be difficult to let go of items that you were hoping to have, or that mean a lot to you. However, when it comes to divorcing a person with a personality disorder, it often happens that the more you fight for items in a divorce, the more conflict there is in the divorce.
Getting an Attorney
If your spouse is suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder, there’s a good chance that your divorce could be more high conflict than divorces where neither party is suffering from a personality disorder. Having an attorney who can help manage the conflict is a good way to ensure that you get the best outcome attainable. A family law attorney who has knowledge of your specific circumstances will be best equipped to give you the legal advice you need to protect yourself. If you have a spouse who’s suffering from a personality disorder and you’re ready to file for divorce, contact CoilLaw today to get started.