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Co-Parenting With A Narcissist

Clarkston Legal March 24, 2023

co-parenting with a narcissistThere are many reasons couples get divorced or initiate a custody battle in their local family court. In addition to the stress of a break-up, some parents face the added challenge of co-parenting a minor child with a narcissist.

This post explores techniques and strategies to face this extra parenting challenge.

Over the years, our law firm has had dozens of clients professing to be married to a narcissist; or their significant other is a narcissist. Everyone has some narcissistic tendencies, but not every difficult spouse or significant other is a clinical narcissist.

In its chapter on personality disorders, the DSM-5 defines narcissistic personality disorder as:

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five or more of the following:

  1. Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.

  2. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

  3. Believes that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people.

  4. Requires excessive admiration.

  5. Has a sense of entitlement

  6. Is interpersonally exploitative.

  7. Lacks empathy - is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others.

  8. Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her.

  9. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

We have developed strategies to assist with the management of a narcissistic co-parent. Which of these tools can be used depends on your case.

For example, if the manipulation is acute, the narcissist may need to be psychologically evaluated to provide a context -a diagnosis- for the family court professionals to better understand the dymamic faced by the other parent. Another example is to bring a motion before the family court to address some of the issues that one parent attributes to the other parents' personality disorder.

Asking the family court to appoint a guardian ad litem is also a useful tool in the right type of circumstances. The GAL acts as the "eyes and ears of the court" relative to matters pertaining to the minor children. The GAL reports to the family court following an investigation.

Here is a link to a post on this topic we authored from 2012 in the Law Blogger. This topic has been around for a while. It is no surprise that the narcissistic personality disorder precipitates many a divorce.

If you are facing the extra challenge of co-parenting with a narcissist, give our law firm a call to discuss your options. We can help start making your tomorrows look better.