Welcome to the second installment in my series on divorcing a narcissist. My previous blog covered common traits of narcissists and behaviors (weapons, really) they use against their marriage partners.
This piece is about what to do when you realize you can no longer continue in this untenable situation. Here are strategies IN ADVANCE of notifying your narcissistic spouse that you intend to pursue divorce.
As we previously noted, divorcing a narcissist is not for the faint of heart. You must be brave and prepare to endure an emotionally difficult slog.
If being married to a narcissist is agony, getting divorced from one can be torture. Once your divorce is in motion, don’t expect them to back down. Narcissists thrive on seeing you punished for daring such a thing. The experience can get so harrowing and exhausting, some simply give up. Don’t give up. Instead, stop feeling and start strategizing. Here are some tips:
Make copies of all important documents
If you have the luxury of time, gather up as much information as you can before announcing your intent to divorce. Make copies or take photos of all assets and key documents. This way, you’ll have proof of the asset before it “mysteriously” disappears. Here is a partial list of items to document:
- Any and all bank accounts
- Documents related to property
- Mortgage documents
- Line-of-credit documents
- Recent pay stubs
- Rax returns going back at least three years
- Paperwork regarding insurance
- Vehicle registrations/title
- Valuables such as art, jewelry, collectibles, etc.
- Investment accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Documents related to trusts
- Birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports
Create a secret war chest
Open a secret fund based on the understanding that divorcing a narcissist will be war. If you can, start years before you inform your narcissistic spouse you intend to divorce. If you can’t begin this early, start as soon as you can.
One writer suggests opening this account with a bank you’ve never used before. Set up a secret email account. The bank account should generate as little communication as possible and all of it should be electronic. Make certain the bank does not send mail to your home address. It would also be safer to avoid getting an ATM card or checks associated with this account.
If you are a stay-at-home parent dependent on your narcissistic spouse for income, you may choose to sell jewelry and valuable gifts to fund this account.
The likelihood is you will need these funds if and when your narcissistic spouse cuts you off from accessing family funds. I have seen situations where the narcissist spouse cleaned out the bank accounts as soon as she was told that her spouse wanted out of the marriage.
Establishing a secret account is not stealing. After you hire a lawyer, inform him or her how much money you have set aside. Eventually, this money can be treated as community property when it comes to dividing assets.
You will also need this fund to hire a divorce lawyer.
Hire a terrific divorce lawyer
At this point, you’ve had enough experience with your narcissistic spouse to know you can’t trust them to be fair. Amid divorce proceedings, narcissistic spouses make a lot of promises they’ll never keep. Even if the promises are in writing ,you have to makes sure the language is precise. As they are making these agreements, they are also crafting loopholes to take advantage of you.
Such promises don’t mean a thing until your lawyer incorporates them into a legally binding contract. You need someone on your side who truly understands the narcissist’s thinking and is able to anticipate their every move. Although every person is unique, the mindset of the narcissist is surprisingly predictable.
Retaining a savvy, experienced divorce lawyer is an investment in your future. The better the lawyer, the brighter your future.
Take exceptional care of yourself
Divorcing a narcissistic spouse is a daily battle. Now is the time to explore activities that will help you stay calm and centered. Sports, meditation, breath work—you name it.
This is also a good time to strengthen or reinvigorate your support network. Narcissists get empowered when they isolate their spouses, so it’s likely that your own network of friends and acquaintances is less than it could be. Strengthen it!
Finally, if you are experiencing depression or anxiety in contemplating or undergoing this process, a therapist can help. Narcissists damage people close to them; it takes work to remain emotionally healthy in the face of such an onslaught.
If you are ready to take the next step and contact a divorce lawyer, then contact one who is experienced in divorcing a narcissist. Contact me for a free no-obligation consultation. I can prepare and guide you through the legal and emotional minefield of divorcing a narcissistic spouse. Also, if you have been in a relationship with a narcissist and would like to confidentially share some of your experiences with me, I would be more than happy to spend some time talking to you.
The Law Offices of Lloyd A. Malech are located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. For more than 25 years, Mr. Malech has provided aggressive and effective representation for his clients in Maryland and the District of Columbia. He has been honored with the Lawyers of Distinction Award Recognizing Excellence in the Area of Divorce and Family Law for the past three consecutive years and has just been recognized as a Family Law Top 10 Attorney for 2021 by “Attorney and Practice Magazine.” Visit Malechlaw.com or call (202) 441-2107.