Divorcing a narcissist with a system that does not understand the nuances of narcissistic abuse, is going to be one of the toughest battles you will ever face.

It is therefore incredibly important to find a lawyer who understands narcissistic abuse and has empathy for the trauma you have experienced and will continue to experience. Don’t wait to get a lawyer when you are divorcing a narcissist. Ideally, within the boundaries of being safe, talk to a lawyer before you leave the home. A lawyer may be able to get an order to have your abuser removed from the home so that you and the children can remain there. Once you engage a lawyer you trust completely, you need to know what to expect. The narcissist is going to use the divorce process to extend the domestic violence and punish you for not worshipping them anymore. They will have as much respect for the family court processes as they do for you! 


Here are six things to keep in mind when you are divorcing a narcissist:


1  The narcissist puts a great deal of work into getting their victim to act “crazy” on demand, and they will use their day in court to prove this to others.

The narcissist is going to do what narcissists do best. They are going to lie. Victims fear a type of self-fulfilling prophecy will occur, where their abusers’ accusations of instability become a reality. The narcissist is not a doctor. They are not a psychologist, or a psychiatrist and they CANNOT make diagnoses without those qualifications. Victims also feel intimidated by the legal jargon thrown around, the cold, clinical nature of the courtroom, and the fact they may have to see their abuser!  Talk to your lawyer about your fears and take a support person with you to court. Do not give them the opportunity to intimidate you with their reptilian gaze either outside, or inside the court. Do not look at them. Ever! I am a firm believer that our eyes are the windows to our soul, and the narcissist wants to look squarely into yours to activate those conditioned fear responses they enjoy so much.  


2  It will be hard not to react when you hear such heinous lies about yourself, but just remember what the narcissist is trying to do.

They want you to feel their wrath, that is cleverly wrapped in the cloak of the law.   The narcissist is not going to like being confined by the laws of “mere mortals”.  They will have firm boundaries around their behaviour, and they won’t have your narcissistic supply to feed off. The narcissist is going to have to be accountable and responsible for their actions! With no fuel to sustain them, they will get angry, and hopefully give the court a small taste of the true self you endured for so long. This is what you want. You want everyone else to see that screaming, tantrum throwing toddler who stomps their feet, and holds their breath until they are given their lollipop. You will need to prepare, prepare, prepare. Prepare to hear hideous lies about yourself. Imagine what they might say and give an internal chuckle at the absurdity of their arrogance. Breathe deeply. Practice your breathing exercises and when you hear the lies in court, give no reaction whatsoever. It’s your reactions the narcissist wants, and you are going to deprive them of their intended supply.


3  To defend yourself against the narcissists’ lies in court, it is extremely important that you should start documenting all interactions with them as early as possible.

Get yourself a diary, and diarise EVERYTHING, no matter how small or insignificant you think it may be. Make all communication to the narcissist via email or parenting app so you have written proof of what they have said. Keep communication minimal and with no emotion. Do not give them any reaction, and do not engage when they try to provoke you into arguing with them. Do not discuss anything to do with the court process and refer all questions to your lawyer.

woman taking off ring divorcing a narcissist

4  One of the hardest and most frustrating things for victims to remember when divorcing a narcissist in court is to not call them a narcissist!

To circumvent the process of having to describe your partner as a narcissist, I suggest that instead, you describe their behaviours. For example, to describe them you might say something like “I would get very confused because they never seemed to have any empathy for me when I was sick, or any remorse when they made me cry. They just seemed to feel entitled to whatever they wanted, and they believed that everyone was envious of them”. In describing the behaviours rather than using the diagnostic terminology that will get used against you, it is hoped that SOMEONE in the court will put two and two together and realise the relevance of these behaviours and traits.


5  Never allow yourself to be alone with the narcissist where they can provoke you, and/or manufacture a situation they can video and use against you.

If you can, install cameras at your home. Cameras will either act as a deterrent, or they will record the offenses. Never underestimate the narcissist’s desire to punish you for leaving them or being able to live without them. If you have any fear whatsoever, go to the police, and you jump up and down until the police ensure you are protected by a restraining order at the very least. When you are divorcing a narcissist, being able to record their behaviour can not only be used as proof; it can also help you protect yourself.


6  If you are thinking about leaving the narcissist, develop a safety plan before you go.

Make a list of what you need to do such as get a lawyer, call a counsellor, call your local social security, call child support, take inventory of all your home furniture, etc. Go to your bank and start up an account of your own. Start putting little bits of money into it here and there, that your abuser will not miss. Locate all your important documents such as passports and birth certificates. Tell the narcissist NOTHING. Keep your cards very close to your chest. Do not give them the heads up so they can move money around and change property into another name. This is going to go against your integrity and every moral fibre in your body, but you are protecting yourself against someone who is wired completely different to you. Someone without a conscience.


Divorcing a narcissist is probably going to be the hardest thing you do in your lifetime, other than living with one. You need to prepare to go up against an enemy who knows every intimate detail about you, and is hell bent on destroying you. Never underestimate the narcissist’s desire and ability to stoop to unthinkable levels to punish you. They will want to take and/or destroy that which means the most to you. They will want the children, not because they WANT them, but because it will hurt you! Divorcing a narcissist is war. They will take precise aim at your credibility, your emotions and your capacity to ever be independent of them and happy. But now that you know who and what they are, you can level up the playing field and prepare for battle. As the old saying goes “Know thy enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles, you will never be defeated”.

nova pollard counselor specializing in narcissistic abuse

Nova Gibson is the founder and principal counsellor at Brighter Outlook – Narcissistic Abuse Counselling Service.  Nova’s area of expertise, and absolute passion is in supporting victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse to heal and thrive. Nova is based in Brisbane,  Australia but she counsels people worldwide via Skype. Her new book, Fake Love and Flying Monkeys: A Journey to understanding, and healing from narcissistic abuse, will be available soon.

Nova regularly hosts livestream narcissistic abuse recovery question and answer sessions on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/abrighteroutlookwithnova/

And on Instagram at @novas_narcissistabuse_recovery  You can private message Nova to book an appointment on either of these platforms or you can email her at nova.pollard123@gmail.com

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P.S. Want more tools and resources to stay positive during a divorce? Download my Free Divorce Survive & Thrive Kit below!


The Radically Positive Way
to Separate
Gabrielle Hartley with Elena Brower
Available on Amazon
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— Gwyneth Paltrow, New York Times Bestselling Author and Founder of GOOP



DISCLAIMER: The commentary, advice, and opinions from Gabrielle Hartley are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice or mental health services. You should contact an attorney and/or mental health professional in your state to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem.


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