“Dealing With Narcissistic Personalities In Family Law”

Over the course of my career, family law has introduced me to some individuals that I might never have met otherwise: true narcissists. There are some people who simply are not capable of seeing the other side of issues, acting with true empathy, or acting in the best interests of their children instead of in their own best interests. These people are relatively rare, but they are incredibly difficult to deal with. They lie easily and with great facility, they can come across very professionally and genially, and it takes time to really figure them out. If you find yourself in this situation while dealing with your ex in court, here are some tips to help you out.

1. It is going to be a long fight. It just is. You have to accept that. The system moves slowly, people get 2nd, 3rd, and 15th chances, and you may have a situation where one judge finally figures your ex out, and then gets reassigned and you have to start all over with a new judge.

2. Compromise strategically. Narcissists take agreement as a capitulation. They can feed on it. That said, you cannot fight everything they want to fight. They simply have more energy and commitment to the battle than you most likely do. So choose your battles based on what matters most to you.

3. Do some reading. There is a book about narcissists called “High Conflict People In Legal Disputes” by Bill Eddy, that is really worth reading. Understanding the mind of a narcissist will help you maintain your calm when they start trying to pull your strings.

4. Do NOT react to them. Simply do NOT. They feed off of other people’s emotions, and they LOVE to push your buttons. DO NOT GIVE THEM THAT SATISFACTION. Remain calm. Take away that reward of working you up.

5. Be patient. They will slip up. The judge will figure them out. They will get caught in lies.

6. Have some sympathy for any children involved. In the end, they WILL figure it out, and when that happens, it is basically the loss of a parent. How does a child react to a parent that they realize they can’t trust, is willing to lie in their own interest, and puts their own interest in front of the child’s? After enough disappointments, the child will check out, mentally and emotionally. It is one of the saddest things to witness, and you truly have no power to stop it.

DISCLAIMER: All legal principles quoted are valid as of the date of writing in the State of California. However, you should NEVER base your actions on a legal article, blog, or internet story, as facts in real life are complicated. You should have your case evaluated by an attorney experienced in the area of law needed for your case. In addition, there are often exceptions and potential changes to results that occur due to facts that you may think are trivial or unimportant. This article should not be taken in any way as legal advice on your specific legal matter.

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