Divorce can be difficult even under the best conditions. Additional challenges come when your ex is a narcissist or displays narcissistic tendencies. Divorcing a narcissist can lead to a high-conflict divorce. High-conflict divorces are categorized by the emotional and financial toll they take on the divorcing couple and additional family members.
Side effects of a high-conflict divorce
High-conflict divorces happen when one party refuses to work with the other. Your narcissistic ex might be unwilling to compromise on key issues. They might shut down any communication attempts altogether until the court gets involved.
This level of stress can result in increased depression and anxiety in one or both of the divorcing parties. Your work may suffer or it might be hard to engage with friends or other family members.
High-conflict divorces take more time and cost more money. The unwillingness to communicate or compromise can cause the process to drag on, racking up court and attorney fees for both parties.
Impact of high-conflict divorces on children
High-conflict divorces rarely leave children unscathed. Your children may start lashing out at you or other family members due to the frustrations of the divorce. They also might exhibit more anxious behaviors or become withdrawn altogether.
Children especially suffer if one party tries to use them as collateral. In a typical divorce, parents often want what’s best for their children. A narcissistic parent might disregard what’s best for the children if it means dragging the divorce out, hurting you, or feeling like they’ve “won” something.
As an extreme example, the narcissistic parent might fight for full custody of the children despite not showing much interest in them before the divorce. They also might threaten to move the children out of state or try for full custody when they don’t get their way.
Protecting yourself in a high-conflict divorce
If you know that your soon-to-be ex might be a narcissist, you can prepare ahead of time to protect yourself during the divorce. Documenting everything they do and all communications as they happen is a good way to protect yourself from any lies or manipulation tactics they try in court.
You can also see about getting yourself and your children into therapy. It will also be beneficial to consult with a lawyer to ensure optimal outcomes.