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Narcissism in Court – Dealing with Personality Disorder While Divorcing

The Story

Mary sat in the courtroom with her lawyer. He bustled around, shuffling papers in and out of his briefcase. For the moment they were alone, but she knew that shortly she would have to deal with HIM, and his narcissistic ways, again. Sure enough, as she thought it, the door opened and in swept the opposing lawyer and HIM.

It seemed to be a grand entrance, like always. Without meaning to she watched and saw that HE looked at her, seeing her watching. And he winked.

Damn it! Damn it! Damn it!

She had told herself she was ready and wouldn’t give him any power in court. Yet, what was the first thing she did? Look at his entrance, just like he wanted. She knew how his personality disorder made him think. She had told her lawyer all about narcissism and how HE would act. She wasn’t sure her lawyer even heard.

Looking back down at her hands in her lap, she promised herself to follow her own rules.

  • no looking at him
  • stay calm and don’t raise her voice
  • pay attention and take notes to catch a lie

She felt prepared, but that didn’t seem to help now that she was sitting here. Even though her lawyer had listened to her about how HE was and what to look for with narcissism and personality disorders, she wasn’t certain that the lawyer really believed, or cared, about dealing with HIM. She could only hope, now, that she had done enough preparation.

In the Courtroom

Dealing with someone that has a narcissistic personality disorder in court is not only difficult, it could be downright impossible. This is their element, they feel comfortable and at home.

Family court is vastly different than the court you see on TV. Most of the time there are no witnesses and no long drawn out trial with evidence and questioning. Usually, it’s the just the people getting divorced, their lawyer and the judge.  The lawyers and judges don’t care about accusations, for the most part, and just want to look at who gets what, including the kids.

This environment is perfect for a narcissist.  They can smile and be super nice when needed or cry and get upset when needed. If they want, they can spin a lie of a story that makes it seem like you are the ultimate bad guy and they’ve been a superhero to have to deal with it. As far as the court is concerned, it’s the truth. They just really don’t care.

Your personality disordered ex can be super confident. Why? Because they are getting a ton of attention and their version of the reality and the truth is given credence. The court perceives them to be just as correct as you, or even more so in the eyes of crazy.

They also know that they’ve been grooming and breeding you to feel like everything is your fault and you are to blame. That makes you appear less confident and more upset in court.
You may get so fed up with the lies that you burst out in anger. This is exactly what your ex wants, because it actually makes the court look at you as the problem and what the narcissist is saying is given more weight.


The two big things to remember are:

  1. The court doesn’t care about the drama and finger pointing, so any stories either of you tell is not given much thought
  2. The court only cares about what they see – so if you get angry and upset, they believe that’s how you always are and can believe the narcissist lies

What You Can Do

This does not mean you are powerless, it just means you have to be aware that you are entering the lion’s den with no shield or sword. If you want to do battle, it will have to be more subtle. Full out frontal attack and war will only hurt you.Believe it or not, most of the time anything you say about how your ex REALLY is won’t help you at all.

Believe it or not, most of the time anything you say about how your ex REALLY is won’t help you at all. The best way to get the court to see and take notice of what the truth of the situation is will be to do so within their little rules.

Here are a couple things you need to do. Follow this list and you will help yourself get further in court.

  1. catch them in a lie – this will take lots of diligence on your part. You will need to have proof. If allowed, video recording or emails may help. If you have evidence that is against something your ex said in court, that’s when you bring it up. More than likely, the full narcissist will emerge and they will get angry and argumentative. this will probably lead to more lies. If you show that they are lying, the court will not like that and it will hurt the narcissist. Nothing you say before this will do as much as catching them in 1 lie at court. You will need to discuss with your attorney how to question your ex so that they know what can set them off. Check out our 10 Questions You Must Ask Your Lawyer paper to see the types of questions you need to ask them.
  2. write everything down – this is what you need to do to be able to accomplish #1. Take notes in court on what was said. The court also records each session. If you have notes and later hear something contradictory, you can request those recordings to show the lie. The judge and lawyer will never remember every case, so it’s on you to see the problems. Keep notes organized, use dates. You should also take notes of any meeting with the ex, mostly if it involved the kids. Write down anything that may have happened during any meeting. You can get a divorce tracking journal to help keep your notes all together for easy access when you need them. If you use something like Our Family Wizard, you should be able to keep records of all communications with dates of the exchange. All of this is just to keep the information so that you may more easily show any lies and made up stories from your ex.
  3. stay calm – it is paramount that you stay calm, cool, and collected. Remember, the court is watching you, but only when you are there. Someone with a narcissistic personality disorder will want to take advantage of this – in court they are super confident and outside of court they are their usual self. This can fluster you – don’t let it. Keep calm knowing you are playing the long game. You just need them to slip up once and prove it. Once you do, it will hurt their case and more than likely they will slip up again. If you slip up and loose your cool, you will have to fight to win that back and you will give them more power over you.

Time to Relax

Facing your narcissistic ex in court can be difficult. It may be almost impossible for you to keep your head and view this as a long term war and not a single battle. Just keep in mind that the court really won’t listen to what the ex may say. What they listen to is a lie with proof. Don’t let things bother you, it will help you think more clearly.

It may not happen right away, but at some point, your ex may slip up and then you’ll be able to prove it. Keep that one goal in mind as you deal with your divorce.

We also have these helpful articles:

Words to watch for

Psychologist describe narcissist

And this book:

High Confict Divorce


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