Help for the husband and father who is divorcing a narcissist wife
We wrote the article Divorcing a Narcissist, part I and promised you a part II. This is part II of our Divorcing a Narcissist articles and this article focuses on the option available to the husband who is divorcing a narcissist wife.
For this article, we will assume the husband is the higher earning spouse. We of realize income is not gender based. Everything we write here for husbands would apply to help wives if they are the higher earning spouse.
Divorcing a narcissist wife who use children as leverage
Contested California child custody cases can become contentious. Wives who are frustrated or wish to take their anger out on their husbands often use the children to punish the other spouse. This can manifest itself in several ways including:
- interfering with their husband's custodial rights,
- interfering with the their parenting time,
- using alienation and conditioning tactics,
- making false allegations of child abuse, or
- false allegations of domestic violence and involving the children in the custody litigation.
Contempt is an effective remedy when divorcing a narcissist wife
Interference with legal custody rights, including the noncustodial parents rights, that violate a court order is punishable by contempt. Contempt requires the filing of a petition that brings to the court’s attention the violation. The punishment for contempt can be jail time and community service.
Contempt should be used in more egregious cases and not every time there is a disagreement between the parents or a non-substantive violation of a court order. Contempt cases can be time-consuming because they involve potential criminal consequences and therefore have to go through a formal arraignment, pretrial and trial process.
For serious violations, they are well worth it. Since lower earning spouses who engage in misconduct often believe they have “nothing to lose” as a result of their misconduct, a contempt petition definitely gets their attention and puts them on notice that the other spouse isn’t going to sit idly by and let violations of court order to occur.
Seeking a modification of custody when divorcing a narcissist wife
Alienation, conditioning of the children, or false allegations of abuse can all be combated by a request for modification of custody and visitation. It is not in the children’s best interest to have significant parenting time with a parent who engages in any of this misconduct.
Parents who engage in this misconduct also cause serious emotional abuse to their children and further cause damage to the other parent’s relationship with the children. California family Law appellate cases have ruled that parents who make false allegations of abuse or engage in alienation or conditioning of the children should lose parenting time and joint legal rights in order to protect the children.
What steps should you take before you bring the modification request against the narcissist wife?
First, document the misconduct. Your divorce attorney should do this with your spouse’s lawyer and you should keep a journal of the misconduct.
Second, identify witnesses to the misconduct and inform your attorney of them so he or she can interview the witnesses and obtain statements from them.
If you fail to act and allow the alienation and conditioning to continue, it will generally fester. Once the children are alienated from you, it can be very difficult to get them back. Children sometimes need psychological counseling to assist them after years of parental alienation.
Bringing the attorney fee and sanctions motions when divorcing a narcissist wife
“But my spouse doesn’t work. How can I get attorney fees?”
It’s a question we hear often. Even family lawyers share this misconception. Our answer is, “who said attorney fees are limited to earnings?”
Your narcissist wife's earnings or lack of it are not the controlling factor
California law does not limit attorney fee awards, especially Family Code 271 awards, to earnings. Do any of these exist?
- A home with equity,
- Money in the bank or with other financial institutions,
- A potential buyout of a business you operate,
- Personal property of value or an expected buyout, or
- Other money that may be coming to your spouse in the divorce.
Any of these can be used to pay the attorney fee and sanctions award. Even spousal support may be used for an award of attorney fees under certain circumstances.
Here is an example of how you can get sanctions against your narcissist wife
For example, let’s say you have $300,000.00 in equity in a community residence. If your wife is entitled to half of that, you use that as a basis for awarding sanctions against your spouse. Do you think your spouse, who is the lower-income earner, will think twice before using the children as leverage or engaging in misconduct knowing she may be paying for it through her share of the equity? This is just one of several examples.
What if there are very few assets?
But let’s say there are few assets. What then?
Is your spouse seeking spousal support or getting it?
Has she made an attorney fee request or do you expect one?
What you request is an “offset” of each as the sanction against your spouse. That will not only get your narcissist spouse’s attention but will also get his or her lawyer’s attention who may have been counting on that attorney fee award to be paid the fees your narcissist spouse owes him or her.
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