What is a narcissist?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is defined in the dictionary as "a person with an excessive interest in themselves".

It can generally be characterised by an inflated feeling of self-importance and the desire to be acknowledged for achievements and success.

Some common narcissistic traits include:

  • Lack of empathy
  • Manipulative and exploitative behaviours
  • Persistent fantasies about success, power, and attractiveness
  • Sense of entitlement and social importance
  • Arrogance and contemptuous attitudes and behaviours
  • Believes that others are envious of him/her and envy of others.

There is a broad spectrum of narcissistic behaviours.

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Dealing with a narcissist in marriage

While some of these traits are true in the general population, a marriage with a person with a narcissistic personality disorder will result in a power imbalance, as they strive for constant control to an unhealthy extent.

This can have a detrimental effect on the other spouse's mental health, leaving them feeling helpless and isolated.

Recognising narcissistic behaviour is a positive step.

It is important to seek support from organisations and loved ones.

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What will a narcissist do in divorce proceedings?

Narcissists have a desire to win, which can be a very worrying consideration in the context of divorce and financial remedy proceedings.

Narcissists tend to exploit or take advantage of others for personal gain.

A narcissist's desire to control means that it can be difficult for them to engage in any form of full and frank financial disclosure on a voluntary basis.

Even if they are prepared to disclose, it is important to carefully analyse the disclosure provided to ensure it reflects an accurate financial picture.

If there are aspects of disclosure missing, the spouse will need to raise a questionnaire or consider issuing court proceedings.

Only when court proceedings are issued can a judge compel parties to disclose information.

A narcissist will likely try to delay or frustrate the proceedings to ensure matters can be on their terms.

Their desire for sympathy and lack of empathy can make negotiations a long and drawn-out process which can have an adverse effect on costs.

Often, court proceedings are required to deal with narcissistic traits.

It is important to seek help from a specialist family lawyer to assist with the process.

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Can I raise narcissist behaviours as conduct in divorce proceedings?

The factors the court will consider are set out in section 25, Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

One of these factors is the conduct of the parties.

Conduct will only be considered if, in the court's opinion, it would be inequitable to disregard it.

Conduct will only be raised in exceptional circumstances, and there is a high threshold for what constitutes 'conduct' in financial remedy cases.

Conduct could include a spouse frittering away assets and concealing the purchase of substantial assets from a spouse.

If your spouse's conduct has directly impacted the matrimonial finances, then consideration should be given as to whether it is worth raising such behaviour to the court.

If the court finds it necessary to consider the parties' conduct, they must consider how the financial consequences should be quantified.

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If you have concerns that your relationship has been affected by personality traits exhibited by your partner, and you are considering divorce proceedings, please get in touch with a member of our Family Law team on:

0161 941 4000