How to Divorce a Narcissist

How to Divorce a Narcissist

We’ve probably all known at least one narcissistic individual in our lifetime. Unfortunately, some of us need to divorce one.

It’s hard to have a deep, meaningful relationship with a narcissist. According to WebMD, narcissism is extreme self-involvement to the degree that it makes a person ignore the needs of those around them. While everyone may show occasional narcissistic behavior, true narcissists frequently disregard others or their feelings. They also do not understand the effect their behavior has on other people.

Narcissism can also be a part of a larger personality disorder. People with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) have an inflated idea of themselves and a need for lots of attention from other people. NPD causes problems in many areas of life and in close relationships. These interpersonal issues are often driven by symptoms of NPD, including:

  • Easily hurt
  • Overreacts
  • Can’t take criticism
  • Makes excuses for own flaws or failings
  • Refuses to take responsibility
  • Attempts to sway or manipulate others
  • Hypercompetitive
  • Only associates with people deemed to be on “their level”
  • Reacts with rage
  • Shames others
  • Emotionally neglectful
  • Doesn’t listen
  • Interrupts often

Divorcing a narcissist

So, how do you deal with your narcissistic spouse as you work through the specifics of your divorce settlement agreement and parenting plan and obtain what is legally yours?

Hire a skilled divorce attorney

First and foremost, you’ll need to hire a divorce attorney who is not only a skilled negotiator, but also a forceful litigator in court. Your spouse will not go quietly!

Your attorney can determine what marital assets are legally yours and help you reach a fair divorce settlement. You’ll want to talk with your attorney about all of the assets you own, whether community property or separate property, including: the family home, vacation home, businesses, pets, furniture, artwork, cars, sports equipment, retirement plans, stock options, life insurance policies, etc. Once you understand what you are legally entitled to, you’ll be in a good position to proceed.

Make sure you’ve done your homework

Before mentioning the word divorce to your spouse, make sure you are fully prepared to move forward. Get an understanding of your financial picture by gathering tax returns, financial statements, Social Security statements and any other documents related to the assets you own and the debts you owe. Make copies of all your important documents, and keep them in a secure place.

Develop a budget for your post-divorce life by looking at your current expenses. Open a bank account and credit card in your own name if you don’t already have one. Obtain a copy of your credit report, so you know where your credit standing is as of today. Make your email, online documents and online accounts secure by changing your passwords to something that your spouse or children won’t be able to guess.

Decide where you can afford and want to live post-divorce. Survey real estate listings to understand what you’ll need to pay to stay in your current home or move to a new area. If you plan to move, where will your children go to school?

Meeting with an accountant and a financial advisor can be extremely helpful as you make plans for the future.

Accept that your spouse will want to make you the “bad guy.”

Rather than trying to remain friends post-divorce, your narcissistic spouse will probably want to make you the “bad guy.” He or she may bring up and blame you for everything that has gone wrong in your marriage. They may act as the victim and portray you as thoughtless and uncaring. Your spouse may try to belittle and shame you. They will make a case for why they deserve more marital property than is legally theirs. 

Instead of giving in, you’ll need to stand your ground to get what you are legally entitled. Lean on your attorney. Do your best to not allow your feelings to be hurt, regardless of how your spouse acts or what he or she says.

Also, we have more posts targeted on how to divorce a narcissistic husband or how to divorce a narcissist if you want more info!


If you are divorcing a narcissist and need expert representation for your divorce settlement agreement, parenting plan, or other legal matter, please contact our office for a consultation. Even in highly emotional and complex situations, we can expertly advocate for your interests. We have worked with many difficult personalities, including narcissist individuals. We can help you leave your marriage with what is legally yours, so you can move on with your life.

Marissa Major and Hillary Warren of Warren Major LLC are Marin County family law attorneys, specializing in divorce, child custody and support, marital contracts and other family law issues. If you are looking for honest, expert legal advice, please contact our office for a consultation

Disclaimer: Warren Major LLP’s blog articles on its website for informational purposes only. The information contained herein may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Warren Major LLP or the individual author. This general information is not a substitute for legal advice on any subject matter. For advice pertaining to your specific case, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. No reader of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this article without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Using this information or sending electronic mail to Warren Major LLP or its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship. Any statements pertaining to past results do not guarantee future results.