Protect yourself against narcissistic behavior in a divorce

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Family Law |

They try to convince you that you are the problem. They trick you into thinking you’re responsible for their happiness and to blame for their misery. Many people in North Carolina and beyond say the only thing that’s worse than being married to a narcissist is navigating a divorce with one.

By the time you file the petition, you have hopefully learned that you are not the problem. During proceedings, however, as you negotiate a child custody agreement and determine how to divide assets and resolve other important issues, your ex might try to pull a few schemes to complicate the process as much as possible.

Remember the acronym BIFF when you divorce a narcissist

Communicating with a narcissist can be torturous. They twist your words and often refuse to answer questions. The key to achieving a fair settlement in a divorce is communication. Your ex might try to bait you into arguments, make false accusations against you or do anything necessary to cause delays or to keep you from getting what you need and what you’re entitled to in your divorce. Keep BIFF in mind every time you must discuss a divorce-related issue with your ex.

BIFF stands for: brief, informative, friendly, firm. Your goal is to exhibit these behaviors every time you communicate with your ex regarding child custody, property issues, alimony or any other settlement topic. Keep it short — the longer you engage in discussion, the more at risk you are for trouble. State necessary information but avoid personal comments. Be non-confrontational but firm. Do not let your ex control the discussion or dissuade you from your goals.

Tap into support resources

The less you try to handle things on your own when divorcing a narcissist, the better. In fact, you don’t even have to engage in discussion with your ex in court if you don’t want to. You can get an attorney who has experience with high-conflict divorce litigation to act on your behalf during proceedings. It is highly unlikely that your ex will be able to bait your attorney into an emotional meltdown or argument in court. However, that’s probably exactly what he or she will try to do if you try to represent yourself.

It’s wise to speak with a financial adviser when divorcing a narcissist who might try to deceive the court by hiding assets. A forensics accountant can investigate your ex’s financial transactions if you suspect a hidden asset scheme. By relying on a strong support network, you can make sure you receive a fair settlement and establish a custody agreement that protects your children’s interests without letting a narcissistic ex get the better of you in court.