Divorcing a Narcissist Husband or Wife Without Sacrificing Your Rights – Part I

Divorcing a Narcissist Spouse

Divorcing a narcissist spouse
does not have to be a nightmare.
Read this informative article to learn why

You may be at your wit’s end divorcing a narcissistic spouse, husband or wife.

It is not easy. But look at it this way. You only have to deal with one while our Orange County divorce attorneys have the experience of dealing with plenty over the years that we have practiced family law.

Divorcing a narcissist spouse does not have to mean that you have to suffer through a miserable divorce or that you have to accept a result that is not consistent with the law. There are proper ways to deal with such spouses who are deceptive, have serious anger management issues and take out those issues on you and the children, or are intent on driving up your legal fees.

This is part one of a two-part article. In this article, we are going to discuss how to deal with divorcing a narcissist spouse if you are the lower-income earner.

Part II will be published later in the week. In Part II, we will look at divorcing a narcissist spouse from the perspective of the higher earner spouse.

Let’s talk about some of the things you can do during the divorce case with your family law attorney to reign your spouse in and get a fair result in court.

Divorcing a narcissist spouse who is the higher income earner

Divorcing a narcissist spouse who is the higher income earner means you are likely up against bullying and intimidation. This can be especially true if you have been a long time homemaker, stay at home mom or earn very little income. These tactics generally involve financial abuse and include the following:

1. Failing to provide complete responses to discovery: Discovery is the formal request for information and documents regarding the marital estate. This tactic forces you, as the lesser income earner, to file a request with the court to compel the information you need and therefore incur attorney fees that should be avoided.

2. Failing to pay support or delaying it: Failing to pay support or delaying it is a way to exert control. It comes in many forms and includes unlawful deductions from support that were not court ordered.

3. Hiding income and assets: Narcissistic spouses sometimes feel as though they money they have made during the marriage is theirs and everything that has come from it should be their separate property. That’s not the law. California community property law defines what is and is not community property and separate property but try to explain that to a spouse like this…it may be futile.

All of these are intimidation tactics. All of these tactics are designed to cause the maximum amount of stress and attorney fees so that the lesser earning spouse eventually gives in and takes less than what he or she may be entitled to from the community estate.

There’s a right way and a very wrong way to respond to such bullying tactics.

The wrong way and unfortunately the typical way by many spouses is to respond in kind, especially in high asset divorce cases – meet unreasonable and aggressive behavior with unreasonable and aggressive behavior. This “fight fire with fire” approach when divorcing a narcissist spouse may be one of the worst things you can do in a divorce case because you essentially lower yourself to the same standard implemented by your spouse and therefore cause the litigation to go longer than it should. You also lose credibility because when the Orange County family court law judge wants to make a decision, he or she frowns on your conduct as well as that of your spouse and both of you lose credibility in front of the court.

Being unreasonable, using counter intimidation tactics, using children as leverage in a divorce or taking unrealistic expectations into the process often does not get results. It just causes more unnecessary stress and aggravation.

Instead, you can combat the narcissistic spouse with a simple and systematic approach – use your narcissist spouse’s conduct against him or her.

When a narcissist spouse fails or refuses to cooperate in providing financial information, California law allows you to compel him or her to provide the information. These motions to compel as they are sometimes called alert the court of your spouse’s lack of cooperation and ask the court to make orders consistent with California liberal discovery laws. California law also gives the court the discretion to monetarily sanction the unreasonable spouse for the attorneys fees and costs of the spouse who was forced to bring a motion to compel. This can be a powerful deterrent because you will have turn the spouse’s uncooperative conduct against him or her by having him or her pay your fees if the judge agrees with your position

If your narcissist husband or wife fails to pay support that is lawfully due, you have many options available to you. While contempt proceedings (which can be criminal in nature and could cause the non-paying spouse to be sentenced to jail) are one option, others include a garnishment of wages, levying of bank accounts and even asking the court for security instruments to ensure the payment of ongoing support.

If you are the low earning spouse, you also have the option available to you of filing an attorney fee motion based on your need and your spouse’s ability to pay and/or based on Family Code section 271 which sanctions an unreasonable spouse.

Divorcing a narcissist spouse doesn’t have to be a nightmare. There are steps you can take to keep your case on track and get a fair result. Contact us to discuss your case. We are here to help.

For a related article, check out our informative article that helps answer the question of how much does a divorce cost?

Don’t forget to visit us soon for Part II of divorcing a narcissist spouse.

Comments

  1. Lesa says

    This sounds like my husband. We have an S Corp together which he locked me out of April 3 but still continues to pay my weekly salary. I have temp orders on May 20th I live in Denver Colorado. I believe I have a good attorney but may the forces be with him on Monday dealing with my husband and all of his lies. He always says the biggest liar wins in court I pray he is so wrong.

  2. Cynthia says

    I completely disagree with the premise that it is possible to achieve a fair settlement in most cases, in most states. Narcissists, especially the cerebral variety, will stop at nothing to financially obliterate their spouse. The family court system is BROKEN and the lawyers and judges within that system are often as abusive as the narcissist. Bad behavior, I was told, means NOTHING to a JUDGE. After 3 1/2 years of litigation, 2 sets of attorneys, I feel as though I could have hired a goat to represent me and would have gotten better representation. I am 51, homeless and in debt, as a direct result of believing “the system” would protect me. But then, maybe it is just a Georgia thing or maybe it is because my XN happens to be…an attorney. My advice to anyone divorcing one of these disordered nightmares is to take the first offer and run. Sure wish I had.

    • says

      Hello Cynthia,

      Thank you for commenting. We are California lawyers so I can only comment on California law and what our experience has shown us here. I am sorry you have gone through such a tough time in Georgia and wish you the best.

      • Sandy says

        I have filed 1 year ago against a narcissistic sociopath. At $1K per month my attorney has done little…except be the conduit to the courtroom with 5 minute case conferences with the judge. One motion to compel discovery and my spouse still will not compel…his attorney now saying i have to subpoena his previously unknown to me bank records. REALLY? I thought this was part of discovery. I had everything in within 4 weeks , work FT and raise a special needs child. One year later I have to subpoena his hidden bank accounts? Oh…we should be debt free…but come to find out he has jacked up credit cards for his employer expenses, took the reimbursements but never paid the credit cards…which were concealed from me. I was flabbergasted at the debt revealed in discovery. Where is the cash from his reimbursements? No one cares because I happen to have a healthy retirement (worked for same employer 30 years, married 10) but all that compounded retirement (less premarital worth) is a 50-50 split in IL. The courts have allowed my husband’s delay in this divorce as it is a win win for him. MEanwhile he continues to spend money like there is no tomorrow and dating different women every night, AND he is still living in my premarital home! Judge won’t kick him out because it was “marital home”. so he comes and goes as pleases while we have an 11 year old boy he rarely sees and NEVER attends his sports events. I am completely responsible, along for our son’s education and welfare. Oh he does have to pay me family support since I have alwasy paid the house payment, and all household bills. why can’t he be forced to compel without my paying for it and delaying furhter the divorce. I just want this over but can’t come up with a settlement offer until full discovery. I was easy prey prior to our marriage…even took care of his elderly mom at the same time a newly adopted child which he now says was my agenda. The courts don’t care…that’s right. the judge doesn’t even know because it is not relevant. they only want to see how much I will have to pay him! Meanwhile I have to live with this person and his smug attitude of It doesn’t matter how much money I “pissed’ away, you still have all that retirement out there, :-/ “I have been through this once before remember? The courts don’t care” . Oh my husband knew what he was doing with me since he pursued me relentlessly and was flat broke when he came into my life. He fed off me like a leach for 17 years , yes even before our marraige but I took empahty on him for his failed businesses and now he wants to be “paid off”. Not to mention having created new debt since he walked away from the previous debt that I truly thought he would attempt to deal with. GRRRRRR I think divorce courts are shameful. We are real people here and the courts keep on enabling narcissistic sociopaths to seek out their next victims because they know the courts don’t care about bad behavior.

  3. Kathy says

    Enjoyed reading the article. It’s nice to know there is a lawyer out there who understands these people. My ex spent the last year of our 20-year marriage setting up holding companies, and getting our assets out of his name. After that, he decided to tell me he didn’t want to be my husband any more. I was a stay at home mom. I had no income. We had two kids in their teens. He wanted to stay together and sleep in seperate rooms while he continued his relationship with a stripper. Needless to say, I immediately told him to leave and filed for divorce withing a few days. That was Jan 2009. Four years later, I’m still living the nightmare. He stopped paying my property settlement, took me to court to have the settlement revised. He didn’t succeed, but I had to pay the legal costs. He still refuses to pay me. He also refused to have me released as a guarantor on his business debts (per the divorce decree). He defaulted on two bank loans, and today I find myself in the middle of a Chapter 11 because his bank has sued me for over $6mil. I don’t have that kind of money or assets worth that. I’m just trying to hang on to what I do have. When I asked my attorney about taking him back to court, she told me the divorce decree wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. She told me I could spend the money (which I didn’t have) to get a judgement against him, but I wouldn’t be able to collect it. I live in Nevada, and I he moved to California. The bank sued him as well, and he has a judgement against him, but he continues to live the same lifestyle. Having a minor to cintinue raising is the only thing that keeps me going. I’m living in a state of disbelief? I have no faith in our justice system.

  4. Mitzy says

    Agreed. These folks are all about WINNING, with no concern or ability to see what they have lost. The only thing they want is money, your and theirs to continue to FIGHT.

    I have had signed by spouse notes regarding selling things, (with his signed note) keeping a phone (he threw at me and then I made him sign a note giving it back rather than trust his words) guns (many of which I have a signed not from him telling me he only wants two and it is ok to sell the rest early in the seperation (now he is asking for five at mediation) and that is just the tip of the iceberg. I spoke to this at the TIME, no attorney claims I didn’t. So yep he got the guns (what if I had sold them?)
    I got a good settlement (if he doesn’t retract in some legal manuvering) as it is not totally final yet, an attorney that is lazy, I am being constantly threaten behind the scenes to pay his bills (his rent and utilities where he moved to when he left or he is going to cause me more legal bills).

    My attorney is NOT willing to address any of his thumbing his nose at the court in an effective manner, as he gets more money to ALLOW him to harrass me, and then I have to “consult” with my attorney AGAIN, on what I can do about any of this. Attorney makes “third grade mistakes so I will have to call and point this out, and he charges me for those calls. This is simple stuff like putting HE (ex) where it should say she (me) .
    I ask for NO contact except through attorneys, and about to be ex sends his veiled threats through our adult children. he uses me to make him copies and actually expects me (the non service person) to provide him with an updated dd214.
    No one expects anything of ex, cause I got a “big” settlement, which I see the loopholes in. I point this out to attorney and next time I talk to him he acts like this (which is just like the ex) , “you should have said something sooner, which I DID.
    I call ex to “get it straight” and he harrasses me more with threats, cussing, and intimadation. I call attorney and he blames “their side” for the delays. Ex threatens to call off the whole deal due to delays, and so I am back to harrassing my attorney to get me final orders to review, so we can move forward and not risk me losing the whole deal.
    He ex lies in court, which can be proven (again, with signed notes from him) and HE gets awarded money. The lawyers love this as they are draining BOTH our legal defense accounts and in truth offering us both NO protection, from THEM.
    Everyone is playing both ends against the middle, and I just want done, as if this keeps up (and we have been through mediation and reached a settlement just final wording stage now) I will have been awarded nothing but all the marital debts to deal with AND (not awarded, but I don’t dare not pay them and attorney advised I do to “look good”, WHAT?) ex’s expenses at his apt. to include FOOD, or he claims I am starving him out. I doubt I will ever see any of that money again.
    Ex got the most aggressive attorney in town but he is saving fees making ME do all the work (just like in the marriage). Oh, I was a thrity five year stay at home mom, with no way (and clearly not the time right now) to seek any employment that will allow me to deal with all this financial harrassment.
    Also all the marital debt for the last 20 years went on ccard in my name, that spouse constantly said we would pay off at retirement, NOT…so I have ALREADY gotten the financal abuse and shaft as all of those debts went to me in the divorice…. Meantime the CLOSED and very old accounts HE got, plus his truck have just about been paid off in the time it has taken to get this done.
    Yes, he is CLEARLY abusing me behind the scenes and IN court, and nothing is being done, I will be in an awful state if this goes on much longer.

      • says

        What gave you a feeling of hopelessness? Recognizing who you are divorcing is empowering. Put on your logical, businesslike hat, get an experienced and smart divorce lawyer and don’t let your spouse’s nonsense affect good decision making. Divorce isn’t a walk in the park. It requires courage and the will to do the right thing, even through adversity.

  5. Kate says

    This site is so damn helpful! I wish I could gather all of these ladies into a room so we could cry on each other’s shoulders. I too am in Colorado and have tried twice to divorce a very emotionally abusive, narcissistic attorney. My last lawyer ran out the clock and drained my finances without doing anything for me. He charged enormous amounts for I am not sure what, switched firms in mid stream, and gave my husband everything he wanted because they are members of the same club. So I am still married, living in extreme poverty with my kids, and my husband comes over for sex when he feels like it, and even if I say no he forces it on me. While I am still paying on the debt for the divorce that never happened. I have started a small business to get some cash flow, but it’s tough with little kids to care for. Meanwhile, the husband pretends to the world that he is a great guy, and loves to tell me I “drove him to the poorhouse” when in reality he hardly supported me ever, and I had to return to work two weeks postpartum after having our children just to pay my bills–while he spent 70k on a land for himself in another state that I have never even seen… in our 12 years of marriage. Thank you Mr. Farzad for at least letting us have a place to know we are not alone. Lawyer’s wives have no rights in America, fyi. As a friend who has been through it told me, “If nobody ever married one, nobody would ever have to divorce one.”

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