Scottsdale Divorce Lawyer | Owens & Perkins, Attorneys at Law

5 Steps – Divorcing a Narcissist and Child Custody

5 steps - divorcing a narcissist and child custodyIn this article, we’re going to discuss divorcing a narcissist and child custody.  Have you found yourself in a child custody fight with a narcissist? They might be the other parent or even the child’s grandparent. Unfortunately, you cannot change their behaviors, but you can keep certain things in mind as you go through the legal process.

You should first know more about whom you are dealing with and their everyday lives. The adage “know your enemy” has never been more accurate. Below are things you should keep in the forefront of your mind while dealing with a toxic co-parent.

1. Prepare yourself for any outcome.

Narcissists are manipulative and cunning in that they try to alter the truth to paint themselves in a more favorable light. They look for provisions in court documents to try and manipulate an order to intimidate or bait the other party. They also try to project a “saintly” image to the public, leaving many people fooled about their real identities and motives. Even lawyers can be fooled by these tactics.

Brace yourself for any attacks because they might target your character and attempt to create doubt as to your fitness as a parent. When this occurs, remain strong and calm.

1. Submit sufficient evidence to the jury.

Narcissists make a good initial impression on strangers, but you know their darker side. You may have experienced verbal, emotional, or even physical abuse and have seen their other manipulations. You need to collect and submit evidence of these things as part of your case.

Document all these events backed with important details to support your claims. Show instances where they showed abusive behavior. Great documentation includes emails, texts, and other recordings that directly demonstrate the behavior. Having witnesses can also be useful if they have seen or experienced these types of behaviors.

2. Always remain calm.

One of the most significant rules is not permitting confrontation before the hearing. Narcissists are great at instigating and causing confusion, and this can lead to emotional, rather than logical, arguments in the courtroom. Remain calm and focused on your objectives.

When it comes to communication, keep it focused on facts, not feelings. Giving in to their behaviors can make you look bad in front of the court. Always act and communicate as if it will be put on display in a courtroom. Before responding to written communications, have someone else look over them– or at the very least, wait before you hit “send” to ensure your communications are free of emotional or disparaging language.

3. Do not self-diagnose the narcissist.

Chances are, you are not a licensed psychologist. While it is tempting to show the Court an article you found online about the signs of a narcissist and say they meet those qualifications, you should refrain. You are not an expert and attempting to look like one hurts your overall credibility. That plays right into the plans of the narcissist.

Instead, present the evidence showing the various behaviors themselves that affect the child and let the Court make an independent determination of how to apply that evidence. Better yet, have a professional such as a psychologist opine on the behaviors and let them tie these to the narcissistic personality traits.

4. Believe in yourself.

Trust the legal process. It’s not perfect but judges aren’t blind. One of their jobs is to review the evidence and assess the demeanor and credibility of the evidence. They know everyone is going to be on their best behavior and can often sniff out people that are trying to pretend to be something they’re not. Let your evidence “do the talking”

You might feel exhausted and pulled down, but this will make the toxic parent take advantage of you. Step into the courtroom with confidence and present your information with that confidence. Be clear, focused, and organized. It makes your evidence more credible if the court doesn’t have to think too hard about it.

5. Hire the right divorce lawyer.

If you seek to hire an attorney, bring to their attention the narcissist’s behaviors and your evidence of the same. If the attorney has experienced these types of personalities before, they will be able to keep you calm, organized, and focused and they will give you direction on what needs to be done next without getting caught up in the emotion themselves. Pick an attorney that can be objective and that will be honest in their assessments.

This support can be an enormous help to your mental well-being, as attorneys can help you share the load of the litigation process, giving you more energy to devote to your mental and emotional healing.

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