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Divorcing someone who is in love with their reflection, part I

Most of us in Ogden have heard the term "narcissism," but what exactly does it mean to be a narcissist? More than being merely vain or somewhat arrogant, narcissism is a personality disorder that makes a person completely self-centered and incapable of feeling empathy for anyone else -- including spouses. As you might imagine, getting a divorce from a narcissist is frequently a difficult task.

The American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, provides several symptoms that indicate someone might by a narcissist. They include:

  • A grandiose or exaggerated sense of self-importance.
  • Belief that he or she is special and belongs with elite people or institutions.
  • Frequently exploits people for his or her own ends.
  • Lacks empathy for the feelings of others.
  • Believes others are jealous of him or her or are frequently jealous of others.

Divorce attorneys say that it can be very difficult when a client's spouse is a narcissist. The same qualities that draw many people to marry narcissists -- the confidence, the work they put into being liked -- make them likely to be highly uncooperative. Narcissists often seek to manipulate the legal process, including using the children as pawns, to get any advantage. They will frequently refuse to submit financial documents or court orders, or sit down to negotiate a settlement in good faith.

All of this means that a divorce involving a narcissist can be more difficult, though doing so is not impossible. In our next post, we will discuss strategies for not allowing a narcissist spouse to prevent you from getting a fair deal.

Source: Forbes, "Financial Strategies for Divorcing A Narcissist," Jeff Landers, Dec. 11, 2012

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