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Child Custody and Narcissistic Parents

Narcissists are inherently difficult to work with, no matter the circumstances. They are impatient, selfish, negative and always paint themselves as the victim. They are incapable of self-reflection and excel at manipulation. It is easy to see that when they are the opposing party in a divorce involving children, these unpleasant characteristics can make a traumatic process even worse. By taking the following steps, you will better understand how to beat a narcissist in a custody battle.

  1. Get Organized. The goal is to demonstrate to the court that this person is unreasonable and narcissistic. Therefore, you will have to document everything and organize it in a compelling and understandable way. Try to keep all communication in writing, via email or text messages. Print them out and make copies. Keep them in a safe place. Print out a calendar or buy a diary and make a note of important incidents that happen, such as a failure to abide by the visitation schedule, or unusual behavior by the other party. Remember that this evidence may be shown to the court, so try to keep it objective and as accurate as possible. Do not inject emotions or exaggerate the facts.

  2. Do not become a player in their game. Narcissists love to create chaos. They thrive off drama and love being the center of attention. Do not give them the satisfaction. Their only goal is to make you look bad in front of the court. They will push your buttons and try to get you to lose your cool. The easiest way to avoid this is to ignore them when possible and to communicate with them as little as possible. When you do have to speak with them, do so only in writing. You will have more time to formulate a reasoned response and come across far calmer than your counterpart.

  3. Understand that a court hearing is inevitable. Narcissists crave attention. Getting up on the witness stand to tell their story is a dream come true. While most cases will settle out of court, through mediation, do not be disappointed if it does not happen in your case. In fact, mediation may be detrimental to your case because they are counting on you to be so worn down by the process that you will settle for something unfavorable to your position. Remember, narcissists expect to win and will not settle for something they feel is a loss for them. If your expectation is that the case will proceed to trial, you will be better equipped when it happens.

  4. Involve a mental health professional. Psychologists are trained to identify narcissists. Ask the court to order a mental health examination for both parties by a psychologist who is well-acquainted with a disorder of this kind. Chances are, the psychologist will be able to diagnose narcissism in your ex. An expert's opinion documented in a report is compelling evidence for a judge in a custody case.

  5. Disengage. Remember, the narcissist thrives on getting a reaction out of you. They will use anything they can to wound you – whether it is the children, division of property, or threatening your safety. If you can get to a point where your message to the narcissist is ‘I do not care,' you will offset their strength. Are they threatening that their lawyer is going to take you to the cleaners? ‘I don't care, let the court decide.' Are they calling you repeatedly to try to bother you? ‘I don't care, I'm muting my ringer.' The faster and more effectively you can disengage, the better off you will be.

  6. Get help. You should enlist the help of family and friends to help you avoid the temptation to react. No one is invincible, and you cannot always be expected to behave perfectly without some support. Make sure you surround yourself with people who love you and understand how difficult your ex can be. If you are tempted to react to your spouse and send a hasty text, pick up the phone to call your trusted group of friends instead. They can help you avoid doing something you may later regret.

  7. If at any point you feel unsafe, call the police. In some cases, narcissists know no boundaries. If they begin stalking you, making threats against you or your children's lives get in touch with law enforcement. At a minimum, this will help you with point 1 in documenting everything. A police report will provide evidence about your spouse and their controlling ways. At best, the police will help you develop a safety plan and prevent the narcissist from harming you.

  8. Get a lawyer who knows how narcissists operate. They will understand how important it is to document everything and stay organized. You will not have to spend time convincing the lawyer how unreasonable your spouse is. A lawyer who has dealt with narcissists before will know how to beat a narcissist in a custody battle. They will anticipate their conduct and behavior and have a firm strategy in exploiting their worst impulses.

If you need a lawyer who knows how to beat a narcissist in a custody battle, get in touch with the law offices of Peter Van Aulen today for a free initial consultation at 201-845-7400.

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Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances