CREDIBILITY IS EVERYTHING IN FAMILY COURT
We grow up believing in justice. We follow the rules. We do as we are told. Believing that it is the right thing to do and it will be at the very least recognised if not rewarded.
Others lie, cheat, steal and are dishonest but you have faith that justice will prevail. The truth is the most important thing and you have that on your side.
This is not always true in Family Court.
In fact, the adversarial nature of the court process can actually encourage lying, blaming and conflict. Which is of course, the narcissists forte…
13 Reasons Narcissists Win In Family Court
The end of a relationship is a symbolic death to the narcissist. They feel anxiety around abandonment and inadequacy. You caused them narcissistic injury. This triggers two responses:
- you are to blame for them feeling so bad so everything must be your fault
- you must pay for what you are perceived to have done
What it means for you is that you will be on the receiving end of:
- blame for everything (including all of their own behaviour – projection)
- lots of verbal attacks from them and others, including the children who will be told that you are to blame for the break up of the family
- a severe devaluing of you and the entire relationship, you are now all bad as in anything associated with you (unless they are of use to them right now)
- intense emotions of hatred and vitriol all directed at you
- a smear campaign involving friends/family, the children and eventually the professionals
- a lot of retaliation for any effort by you to move on
- regular court appearances so that they can continue to tell everyone how awful you are and prevent you from fully moving on
All of this provides the perfect backdrop for your ex to pull off a spectacular victory in Family Court.
- Narcissists are very emotionally persuasive – you know this as they seduced you with lies. They present as very credible and remember credibility is everything
- They have a very convincing false public persona and make great first impressions, winning people over before you even got a look in
- They genuinely feel intense emotions but are mis-attributing the cause to you. However, it taps into the human psyche that when we see someone distressed we assume something must have happened and so their explanation is given weight
- Narcissists use emotional reason to explain their feelings – they feel anxious and distort the facts to sooth that feeling and emotional facts are very persuasive to the audience
- This can lead to negative stereotyping of you as once we accept someone is guilty of one thing, it’s easy to assume they have done everything you are accused of
- This reinforces the narcissists feelings of superiority and intensifies their splitting (you are all bad, they are all good) meaning more allegations are made which are seen as being more evidence
- The recruitment of flying monkeys (negative advocates) adds to their credibility as it is no longer your word against theirs. They claim to have witnesses who back up their version of events
- Parenal alienation is when the child becomes so enmeshed with the narcissist that they will say/do anything to soothe their (narcissists) emotional distress as they believe it to be their own (child’s). This includes rejecting you and making allegations against you which is highly persuasive in a Family Court arena whose main purpose is child protection.
- They can then use this power of the children to control you. They condition you to agree to their demands and if you don’t, the child will be the price you pay either by not allowing you access or getting the child to act as their foot soldier and do their bidding, putting you in a lose-lose situation
- Family Court appeals to the narcissist ideas of grandiosity and self importance and so they feel very comfortable there. When contrasted with your anxiety it can be interpreted as them having more stability and being more credible
- They have fantasies of success which give them confidence and self belief which can be interpreted as “it must be true, they say it with such conviction”
- They are interpersonally exploitative and deceptive – lying is a skill and one which goes unseen for such a long time.
- They have a “win at all costs” attitude and lack the ability to process consequences. They will spend all of yours and their money to win without a thought for what they will do without any money
How to Win the War
It may seem hopeless going up against a narcissist in Family Court after reading all of that. Especially when you are still recovering from the relationship itself. It’s why I always recommend getting support at the start of the process to help you navigate your own emotions and help with cognitive processing as your ex has distorted your thought processes as well.
But you can win and here are my top tips:
Plan and prepare – Have money on hand (a war chest). You may need this money for living expenses while the divorce plays out and you will need funds for legal fees. Make sure you have good credit in your own name. Get your financial paperwork together. The narcissist will likely hide and withhold information so if you can compile it before discussing divorce, that is ideal. Don’t keep copies at home
Get A Team together – Ensure you select a lawyer/solicitor who understands NPD. Have personal support from a best friend, family members and even online support groups so you don’t lose your grip on reality as the narcissist begins their campaign against you. Get support from a therapist/coach who understands not just NPD but the court process as you will be put under enormous emotional pressure
Establish and Maintain Boundaries – Keep direct communication with the narcissist to a fact based, dispassionate minimum. Email is ideal. Don’t respond to the narcissist’s behavior. Stop feeling, start thinking.
Take Care Of Your Emotional Health – Divorcing a narcissist is a nightmare and one that will take it’s toll if you don’t prioritise your own well-being. Getting a therapist who understands the situation can help to reduce your anxiety and help you manage your emotions so you don’t respond and fall prey to their attempt to bait you. If necessary communicate only through lawyers or a trusted third party
I have popped all these into a cheatsheet for you to download. Just click the button below to grab your copy.