Dealing With a Narcissistic or Bipolar Ex/Opposing Party

Even a mutually agreed-upon divorce between two reasonable people can be a time of great stress, but what if your spouse has a personality disorder, whether bipolar or narcissistic? What can you expect then, and how do you proceed?

Actually, you no doubt have already experienced what lies ahead in divorce proceedings from what’s transpired during your marriage. The narcissist will continue to have inflated self-worth and try to pin the blame on you for everything. The spouse with bipolar disorder may swing between debilitating depression and frantic energy.

If you’re divorcing a spouse with a personality disorder, it’s more important than ever to have attorneys on your side who are compassionate and caring. Such divorces can be characterized by high conflict, and you need impartial third-party representation to help sort through fact and fiction and provide a buffer between you and any obsessive behavior.

At Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA, we have been helping clients throughout Columbus and Central Ohio cope with divorce issues for 45 years and help them find solutions that meet their unique circumstances. Rely on us to steer you through the entire divorce process.

Personality Disorders
and Divorce

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found that people with what is called “borderline personality disorder” are just as likely to cause interpersonal relationship problems as are those who are diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or bipolar disorder. They often exhibit patterns of “intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation).”

Very few narcissists are ever diagnosed or treated because, for the most part, they have grandiose ideas of themselves and can be completely charming to others, never doubting their own superiority.

Many times, they are quite successful people who are admired — on the surface at least — for what they’ve accomplished. But in personal relationships, they are manipulative and inveterate liars. 

These characteristics continue to hold sway even in divorce proceedings. They’ll try to pin everything that’s gone wrong on you. The casual observer may not even be able to see through their tactics, but to you, they’re all too familiar.

The spouse with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, can swing between states of utter depression and manic explosions, when they are abnormally upbeat and wired. In some cases of bipolar disorder, the depressive state may be rare or even nonexistent, and the person will merely be manic — full of energy, thoughts racing a million miles an hour, and speech following just as rapidly.

When in a manic state, the bipolar will sleep little, but in a depressive state, will sleep long and hard, even when they should be up and about. Depending on your spouse’s type of bipolar disorder, they can also become threatening, suicidal, or psychotic. In divorce proceedings, the bipolar spouse can become angry and lash out. Be prepared for outbursts and outrageous accusations.

Divorcing a Spouse with Personality Disorders

First of all, don’t attempt to negotiate a divorce settlement on your own. Both the narcissist and bipolar spouse will see you as the cause of it all and will try to turn the tables to their own advantage. Anything you say to your spouse will likely be turned against you during divorce proceedings. Remain calm and don’t aggravate your spouse, but most of all, seek the help and protection of experienced legal counsel.

Even before entering divorce proceedings, document everything, not only by retaining official records but also by documenting the behavior of your spouse. Your troubled spouse may try to sabotage your case by destroying official documents such as bank account statements, mortgage records, tax returns, pay stubs, and the like. Safeguard them.

At the same time, safeguard your financial and other assets. Your spouse may try to drain your accounts, run up your credit cards, quit paying the bills, or otherwise put a financial hit on you and your survival. You may even need to set up a sort of rainy-day fund in advance of seeking a divorce.

When it comes to your spouse’s behavior, remember that they will try to blame everything on you. That’s why, well in advance of divorce, you should document everything you’ve witnessed or experienced with your spouse.

In addition to notes you record for yourself, if there are any pertinent medical records involving your partner’s illness, or resulting from your partner’s behavior toward you, safeguard those documents as well. If your spouse has been on medications, keep evidence of that, whether with empty medicine containers or another type of proof.

If you know your spouse is going to make certain false claims during divorce proceedings, you should be prepared for that with a proper rebuttal. If you can find supporting documentation for this, that’s great, but at least have your side of the story down in writing and dated at the time of the incident or the accusation by your spouse. Likewise, if you’ve been abused – keep records in your own writing or by way of medical examination or treatment, if it came to that.

Also, be concerned for your own safety. You never know when or if a spouse with a personality disorder might decide to take matters to another extreme by threatening you or your children — or even actually carrying out emotional or physical abuse in response to the divorce proceedings.

Work with an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today!

Since spouses with personality disorders can often seem impossible to deal with on a rational basis by yourself, the help of an experienced divorce attorney is absolutely essential. Your spouse will try to turn everything to their favor — or blame everything on you — no matter what you say or how sincerely you mean it. That’s why you need to prepare in advance for divorce with all the documents and any other evidence you can collect and assemble.

The family law and divorce attorneys at Heckert & Moreland Co., LPA, will advise and counsel you throughout your divorce proceedings. We will work closely with you to help expose the behaviors and deceits of your spouse that led to your decision to divorce, and which now make it difficult to resolve the divorce. Let us protect you and your rights throughout the divorce process.

If you live in Columbus, Ohio, or anywhere in Central Ohio and are considering or already in divorce proceedings, call us immediately at Heckert & Moreland Co, LPA, especially if your spouse’s personality traits or disorder is hindering your divorce case.


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