Divorcing a Narcissist in California (2024) – All You Need to Know

By Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP | Jul 12, 2023

Divorce is one of the most challenging things that a person can go through. Divorcing a narcissist has the potential to make that process all the more challenging. That doesn’t mean, though, that you need to lose hope or be fretful of what may come. By preparing for the process and seeking a trustworthy family law attorney to work with, you can be ready to handle the difficulties that divorcing a narcissist might carry.

What to Expect

One of the most difficult parts of divorcing a narcissist is how unpredictable they can be. Just when you believe that everything is going as smoothly as it can in these situations, a fit of ego could disrupt the whole process. In other cases, when nothing seems to be going well, they may suddenly be agreeable for completely unknown reasons. Therefore, it is possible that a divorce with a narcissist could end up being an easy negotiation and there not be any issues. However, it’s also possible that they could disrupt every aspect of the divorce, from determining property division to developing a child custody plan. When divorcing a narcissist, the ideal strategy might be to simply expect and prepare for everything while hoping that you have to deal with nothing.

How to Prepare

When you are divorcing a narcissist, there are legal limits to just what kind of behaviors that they can get away with. They run into opposition and legal restraints that they don’t face in regular life. That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t create a ruckus. In these cases, their threats, taunts, and drama will often amount to very little, but the personal baggage that the other party carries into the divorce from the narcissistic abuse they’ve taken can make this difficult to deal with at times. Therefore, it’s important to prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for what may come. Additionally, it is important that you get yourself financially ready for the divorce. You should also take the time to document your interactions with your spouse before and during the divorce in case they may be vital to your case.


Q: Will a Narcissist Negotiate a Divorce?

A:  It’s impossible to know for sure how a person will act before the actual moment occurs. However, there are some reasonable expectations regarding what may happen in the process of divorcing a narcissist. In most cases, divorcing parties want to avoid an ugly court battle. The concern is that a narcissist, out of self-inflated grandiosity and ego, may want to create that kind of chaos. That’s certainly a possibility. However, a narcissist doesn’t want to be exposed either. Sometimes, an open battle in court can reveal them to be a lot of talk without much substance to back it up. It’s possible that they may have a strong pull towards negotiation so they can avoid that kind of exposure. If you are divorcing a narcissist, that’s not a reason to give up hope on negotiation. Especially with the right divorce attorney, negotiation may very well be a possibility.

Q: How Can a Lawyer Help When Divorcing a Narcissist?

A: When divorcing a narcissist, one of the most difficult elements to deal with is the fact that they can be a bit chaotic. They aren’t exactly predictable in terms of how they will behave and react to the divorce process. The first way a lawyer can help is that they can be a point of consistency and reliability. A good divorce lawyer is someone you can trust to give you an honest assessment of the situation and provide good guidance through the divorce, negotiation, and, if needed, court processes. A lawyer can also speak from a place of being a peer to the other lawyer. They can urge the other lawyer to try to give the narcissist a clear picture of the benefits of maintaining a reasonable, predictable process throughout the divorce.

Q: What Should I Do to Prepare to Divorce a Narcissist?

A: Preparation for a divorce with a narcissist should occur on a few different levels. In part, you will need to mentally and emotionally prepare for the process. Divorce is difficult enough without the unpredictable element that narcissism brings. You need to mentally be ready for anything. You will also need to prepare yourself financially, as you will want to have solid financial resources for the process ahead. The judge may award temporary spousal support for the duration of the divorce, but that doesn’t mean that, despite the consequences of not paying, you can just count on that money being available. Lastly, you need to document whatever you can about your relationship, particularly accusations made against you. Keeping a journal of interactions leading up to and through the divorce may prove valuable.

Q: What Are Some Narcissistic Personality Traits?

A: Narcissism is a kind of mental disorder. Most often, this disorder results in an excessive need for attention to satisfy one’s ego. It is also often paired with a lack of empathy for others while having an inflated perception of self-importance. That self-importance is often maintained at the expense of others, who are belittled and diminished by the narcissist. Some of the traits of narcissism, which create difficult relationships and can make divorce challenging, include:

  • A desire to manipulate others
  • Self-righteousness
  • Creating drama
  • Arrogance
  • Entitlement
  • Contempt
  • An unwillingness to accept criticism
  • Anger
  • Lack of close relationships

A Trustworthy Legal Team Can Help You Through a Divorce From a Narcissist

The hope, of course, is that the narcissist you are divorcing is going to be on their most presentable behaviors and amicable through the divorce process. However, it’s possible that they will create a storm of chaos through the process instead. Because of that risk, you need a legal team that you can trust to serve as a point of stability and a place of consistency and truth. At Quinn & Dworakowski, LLP, we have experience with these kinds of situations and understand how difficult they can be to work through. We seek to be a place where our clients can come for reliability and trust through the process. If you are ready to work with us through your divorce, or just want to hear more about how we can help, contact us today.

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