Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorcing a Narcissist: Practical Steps for Survival~ 4 min read

Take The High Road: When a narcissist gaslights you, take the high road. Although it might be tempting to engage in pettiness or manipulation, responding with neutral communication not only benefits your own mental health but also shows the judge that you are the more reasonable party. Rather than succumbing to an emotional response, remember to stay calm and focus on the facts. For example, focusing on what is best for the children, rather than battling for the sake of winning, highlights your credibility. Judges want to see parents who can set aside their differences, do what is right for the children, support the other party’s parenting, and respond calmly in the face of aggression. Every email, text, Facebook, or Instagram post is a potential exhibit which can be used either for or against you. When your ex tries to gaslight you, a neutral response like, “We seem to disagree on the facts” is far more effective than, “You are a liar.” Do not let the narcissist win by making you look crazy. As a rule of thumb, assume a judge will read anything you say to your ex. Put your best foot forward.

Record and Document Everything

Keep your own records of all court documents. While taking the high road, remember to screenshot, record, and save all communications with the narcissist. Consider keeping a daily journal of important events and take pictures of any relevant information. It may make sense to utilize one of the many apps available for divorcing couples such as Civil Communicator or Talking Parents, which track and facilitate communications. If needed, your attorney can submit the communications as exhibits at hearing or to the Child and Family Investigator (CFI) or Parental Responsibility Evaluator (PRE) making recommendations in your case. This documentation can be crucial to building your case and proving the narcissist is lying. Even a manipulative narcissist cannot twist the facts if they are clearly recorded.

Beware the Victim Narrative

Narcissists are notorious for playing the victim. This is a tactic to manipulate you and gain sympathy from others. You are not obligated to engage with this narrative. Remember to focus on the facts, the evidence of your own reality and the documentation you have gathered.

DO NOT SUCCUMB TO INTIMIDATION

Stand up for yourself and do not allow threats and intimidation tactics to derail you. If the narcissist threatens you and you feel unsafe, document the threat. If necessary, call the police. If the threat is not imminent, contact your attorney. When the narcissist gaslights you, be aware of the manipulation but do not doubt your reality. Trust in your understanding of the truth and rely on the evidence you have collected. The narcissist may also try to pressure you into making agreements without the advice of counsel. Consult with your attorney before agreeing to anything.

Trust your support system

Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, and loved ones who understand your situation and have your best interests at heart. When a narcissist tries to undermine your support system, do not engage with this behavior. You may lose friends during your divorce; they are not worth your time. The people who know and love you will continue to be in your corner. Your attorney is part of your support system. Your attorney also knows what will make you look bad in front of the judge. If your attorney counsels you how to strategically respond to your narcissist ex, or not to respond at all, it is likely wise to heed their advice.

Arrange for therapy for the children

Oftentimes narcissists will try to turn your children against you by badmouthing you or spreading lies about you. Make sure the children have a good therapist to guide them through this process. Children need clear guidance, boundaries, and a safe space to process this experience. Therapy can provide them some stability in the face of chaos caused by a narcissist parent, and tools to express their own needs as they move forward in life.


During a divorce, a narcissist will make you feel crazy. You are not crazy. Remember, hold firm with your own needs and support your children through the mess. Be gentle with yourself throughout the whole process, and in the end, you can hold your head high knowing that you acted with integrity in difficult circumstances.

For more information or to schedule a consultation call (303) 309-1077. Our office is located at 1660 Lincoln St., Suite 1525, Denver, CO 80264.