Divorcing a narcissist carries some particular risks, but people in Pennsylvania who are in this situation can also take steps to protect themselves. Narcissists tend to use several different approaches to destablize the other person and try to get their way. Recognizing this psychological manipulation for what it is can help people combat it.
Narcissists remain in control by creating uncertainty during a divorce. They do this by sending mixed signals. For example, they might tell a spouse that they can have whatever they want in the divorce while privately saying to their attorney that the spouse will get nothing. A narcissist will often express the wish to have the divorce over with and the spouse out of their life but in fact will seek to continue connecting with the other person, even after the divorce is final.
Divorcing and co-parenting with a narcissist is particularly challenging. A narcissistic parent often sets themselves up as the “fun” parent. Narcissists may fight for custody or for a change in custody not because they want more time with their children or think it is in their best interests but simply as a way to hurt the other parent. They may also try to turn the child against the other parent and punish the child who does not take on their view of that parent.
Courts are reluctant to block one parent’s access to the child as long as the child is not in danger of abuse or neglect. This can leave the other parent in a difficult situation. While some parents may be able to negotiate a custody agreement, if one parent is a narcissist, litigation might be the only option. A parent can discuss strategies with an attorney to demonstrate that custody should be awarded to them even if they must concede visitation time for the other parent.