If you are going through a divorce or separation where you believe that your spouse or partner is a narcissist and there are financial and children issues to be resolved, it pays to engage someone who understands Narcissism. They will be able to pre-empt how a narcissist is likely to behave in the legal process and they can take active steps to help you manage the situation in an empowered way.
Think carefully who you get to support you and ask questions.
Narcissism is usually spoken about in the Family Court as a personality disorder which is individually recognised and defined in the Mental Health DMS. However, the majority of those with Narcissistic behaviours do not have a diagnosis which is hardly surprising as they do not think there is anything wrong with themselves. Narcissists view others not as people but as objects to be used for their own benefit. They have an inability to see things from another’s perspective, lack empathy, are exploitative and have a sense of entitlement. Their behaviour is abusive and causes so much harm to the receiver's self esteem and perception of self and the world.
Given the lack of people formally diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and the fact that the court will not treat someone as such without a formal diagnosis it is counterproductive to label them as Narcissists and best avoided. That does not mean that Narcissistic behaviour is not important and it is the behaviour that causes harm. It is highly toxic and abusive. When you get help with someone who understands this behaviour you avoid being further abused by the person dismissing you. This does happen when a Solicitor or McKenzie Friend does not "truly" understand Narcissistic Behaviour and it's impact.
Narcissists will look forward to appearing in court as they see this as an opportunity to use their charm and employ their narcissistic tactics to persuade a judge. Some judges are starting to see through this behaviour, but others may not.
A narcissist may try and manipulate the court process as they believe that rules and laws do not apply to them. They are likely not to comply with any court directions on time, provide inadequate financial disclosure and will instruct their lawyer to send correspondence which is full of hurtful and untrue accusations. They will try to wear you down in a battle by correspondence, rather than addressing the issues. This is why having a Solicitor or McKenzie Friend who understands this and puts boundaries in place to stop this behaviour.
The preparation and the handling of any case in the Family Courts, whether this be relating to financial matters or children, is key, particularly if you are dealing with individuals who refuse to follow the rules.
The court will not label or find that someone is a narcissist and therefore the fact that someone is or isn’t a narcissist, will not affect their decision. However, some of the behaviours of the narcissist and the consequences of these behaviours is something that the court can consider, and which may have an effect. If their behaviours manifest in not following court directions and result in aborted hearings, the court can impose penalties, including costs orders. Similar penalties can be imposed if they refuse to provide adequate financial disclosure.
Certain behaviours may also be directly relevant to the factors that the court must consider when reaching a decision. Although this has been less likely in financial cases in the recent case of DP v EP (Conduct; Economic Abuse; Needs)  EWFC 6 (10 January 2023 the court considered Economic Abuse. I believe, reading between the lines, although it has not been mentioned that there was Narcissitic behaviour in this case. There was in any event Controlling and Coercive behaviour.
If there is such behaviour, this is where the focus needs to be placed. Appropriate evidence will need to be gathered demonstrating the behaviours and the effect that this has had on both you (and your children if there are any) . This needs to be presented to the court in the most effective way.
Even if a settlement is reached or when the court has made their decision, any court order needs to be drafted carefully and be very detailed. Narcissists will continue to try and exploit any gaps or any ambiguity in any order to their advantage, even once a case has ended, which is why specialist legal support is needed and someone who understands Narcissistic Abuse and how to handle and tactically approach a case which is very different from the norm.
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