Divorcing and co-parenting with an ex are difficult enough to navigate on their own, but when dealing with a narcissistic partner, the challenges can be even more overwhelming. The heightened emotions involved, the potential for high-conflict situations, and the manipulative tactics of your ex can leave you feeling confused and exhausted. However, with a clear plan for how to engage and not engage with your ex and the right divorce team you can get through this in a way that allows you to move forward with your life and prioritize what is best for your children.
Refrain from Engaging in Conflict
When divorcing someone who has a high-conflict personality, do your best not to engage with them beyond the immediate issues that need to be discussed. While your ex may attempt to pull you into contentious discussions, it is your job to avoid engaging with them. Don’t focus on the past or allow yourself to be dragged into defending yourself for something you once did or didn’t do. Instead, look forward. When discussing the children and other relevant issues, maintain a laser focus on the logistical aspects and prevent emotions from getting involved.
Establish a Clear Co-Parenting Plan
Effective co-parenting with a narcissistic or high-conflict ex requires meticulous planning and a child-centric approach. You need to establish a clear, written parenting plan that outlines exactly when you are each scheduled to be with the children and how decisions involving the children will be made. Narcissists often put their needs before the children, and they won’t hesitate to make you wrong and themselves the victim. Your task is to be the parent who shows the children sympathy and understanding. While rising above all the negativity can be difficult, it is in your children’s best interest to make healthy parenting your number one job.
Communicate Only About Your Children
When discussing the children through email or text, it’s important to focus solely on facts and logistics. For example, if you are trying to work out a change in the parenting schedule and your ex starts accusing you of some sort of wrongdoing, don’t take the bait. Instead, steer the conversation back to rearranging the schedule, and do so with clarity. Ask very clear questions, preferably those than can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” and leaves little to no room for argument. This will allow you to shield yourself from unnecessary conflict while managing your co-parenting schedule.
Create the Right Divorce Team
While it is important to follow these tips when divorcing and co-parenting with a narcissist, we know none of this will be easy to do on your own when you are locked in a certain dynamic with your spouse. That’s where your divorce team comes in:
Hire an Attorney Experienced Working with Narcissists
When negotiating with a narcissist during divorce, it’s important to have strong legal representation. Not only should your attorney have extensive experience as a divorce attorney, but also a deep understanding of narcissistic dynamics. You’ll find peace of mind knowing that your attorney is well-equipped to handle the complexities of negotiating with narcissists and their attorneys and is prepared to counter the tactics employed by your ex. By enlisting the support of a seasoned attorney, you can ensure that your rights are protected and your best interests are prioritized throughout the negotiation process.
Work with an Experienced Divorce Coach
In addition to legal representation, you’ll also want to work with a divorce coach with experience working with narcissists. Your divorce coach will be able to identify early warning signs of tactics employed by your ex to manipulate you and provide invaluable assistance in protecting yourself emotionally. Their guidance will help prevent you from getting triggered and from saying or doing things that may trigger your soon-to-be ex. By keeping you more emotionally regulated, your divorce coach can help diminish the influence your narcissistic partner has on you, allowing you to focus more on the issues involved in your divorce.
Consider Hiring a Parenting Coordinator
Finally, you may consider enlisting the services of a parenting coordinator to foster more constructive conversations between you and your ex. This professional introduces a neutral and child-focused perspective to bridge the gap between you and your ex to help you make joint decisions and navigate the complexities of your parenting schedules. Parenting coordinators can serve as valuable mediators, not only during the divorce proceedings, but also post-divorce when the guidance of attorneys is no longer available. This can help ensure effective communication and cooperation with your ex and allow you to prioritize your children’s best interests.
How Vacca Family Law Group Can Help
At Vacca Family Law Group, we understand the complexities and challenges that arise when divorcing and co-parenting with a narcissist. Our skilled team of collaborative attorneys and mediators employs a solutions-focused approach, facilitating discussions that prioritize your family’s needs and encouraging open dialogue and cooperation. If you’re ready to regain control of your life and protect your children from the turmoil that can come from divorcing a narcissist, contact Vacca Family Law Group and schedule a free introductory call.