• McKenzie Friend Australia

Up against a Narcissist in a property law matter? Real life Tips for the Self-Represented Litigant

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

If you’re divorcing a narcissist and trying to agree on a property settlement, chances are he / she won’t make the things easy and they will certainly believe they are entitled to the lion’s share of the property pool.

As narcissists are self-centred, full of themselves, manipulative and boastful, don’t be surprised if you are told post separation that they married you for your money or to achieve a certain lifestyle. There is probably truth in this. As they are also unable to empathise or tune in emotionally to another’s needs, your soon-to-be ex is likely to seek revenge throughout the entire property settlement process. The world revolves around them, after all, right?

Divorcing a narcissist can go from travelling well to suddenly escalating into high-conflict, not to mention expensive and traumatic in the blink of eye because they are losing control over you, and as domination and control is a huge motivation for them, they typically don't give up.

Below are just a few tips to help a self-represented litigant against a narcissist.

1. Protect Yourself

Get away from the narcissist as soon as possible. Get them out of the house or move out yourself if you haven’t done this already.

Once out, stay away from them. The more contact they have with you, the more opportunities they have to manipulate your thinking, push you to do things and continue abusing you.

Try not to frequent places you know that will be to avoid face to face confrontations.

A Narcissist will track you; some may stalk you. If you feel you are being stalked, harassed or abused and can prove it with pictures, witnesses, communications or other forms go to your local Magistrates Court and apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVO). Try as best as you can to take away their emotional dominance on you as they thrive on it.

A real example of a Narcissist losing control and reacting negatively is signing you up to dating website, marriage websites, sex website posting all of you personal hoe details, contacts, pictures and descriptions and you will start to receive improper invitations to unwanted dalliances not solicited by you. This is against the law and is called cyber stalking. If this happens to you contact police immediately and have them trace the IP addresses from the email. Do not deleted these emails.

2. Communicate with your ex sparingly.

Do not get sucked into communications that have nothing to do with resolving your property dispute. And do not agree to personally meet with your ex. They know how to press all your buttons including drawing you back in and getting you to agree to things at a one on one catch up putting on all their charms to get what they want from you.

Do learn about mind control and narcissism. The only way to really protect yourself, despite how the court proceedings go, is to fully understand the manipulation techniques used against you and what effect they had on you in the past and present. Only then does the narcissist lose most of the control over you.

Keeping your responses brief and to the point, infuriates them but shifts the control to you.

3. Set boundaries for yourself around communication with your ex. This helps to manage your time and energy devoted to them.

If you don’t do this, they will suck the life out of you and consume your entire day, week and month. You need to isolate yourself from them. What you need to understand is - you are not obliged to rush and answer their emails. You are allowed to take your time, reason through things and answer when you are ready. Contrary to what they will have you think.

If you don’t do this, they will suck the life out of you and consume your entire day, week and month. You need to isolate yourself from them. What you need to understand is - you are not obliged to rush and answer their emails. You are allowed to take your time, reason through things and answer when you are ready. Contrary to what they will have you think.

I recommend placing the following personal safeguards around communicating with a narcissist. They will kick and scream at you, but it is for your own mental health. List of things to do to minimise communication:

  1. Create 1 email account totally devoted to your court matter. Let your ex know this is the only channel of communications between you from now on.

  2. Set aside 1 day a week, like a Tuesday at 7.30pm to go through your dedicated ‘narcissist’ email account. Read their various emails and carefully draft up only 1 response. Once completed, do not send it immediately. Think on it overnight. If you are happy, send it the following morning after 8.30am (not before, you don't want your ex knowing you are thinking about them first thing in the morning)

  3. Let your ex know via email from this account once you open it that you will only be reading their emails once a week and they will receive 1 response if you feel it is necessary to respond at all.

  4. Block your ex from communicating with you on your personal email accounts and work accounts.

  5. Block your ex on all social media channels immediately.

  6. Block your ex from calling you and texting you on your mobile and if you can on a home phone.

  7. Ask your family and friends to block your ex on their social media accounts as well.

  8. Inform you work and work colleagues of the above boundaries as you do not want your ex interfering with your workplace. Which they will try - like to get you fired.

  9. Do not follow them on social media. Stop thinking about them. Stop caring about what they are doing. Move on.

4. Keep yourself clean by steering clear of mudslinging

A narcissist is going to throw a lot of stuff at you, abuse, criticism, lies etc. Take the high road. Don’t give them anything to work with by getting sucked into threats and insults.

As much as possible, don't waste time trying to defend yourself. Instead spend your time working at gathering evidence that they is a liar and a control freak so that you can prove these things in court.

You know they change the terms and conditions in an instant if it suits them. Stay focused on your goals and bite your tongue as much as possible. This one is a hard thing to do as you will want to bite and defend yourself against their barrage of allegations and inuendoes.

Don't try and do things to please them in the hope that they will be more reasonable. Any show of kindness is considered a sign of weakness by narcissistic people. And besides, one of the important signs of a narcissist is that they will take what you offer but often fail or refuse to fulfil their side of the bargain.

5. Get help and support from family, friends, health care professionals and a McKenzie Friend experienced with court matters against a narcissist.

It is useful to have people on your side who understand that your soon-to-be-ex is actually abusive and controlling especially when the narcissist has fooled others into thinking that they are caring, friendly, helpful and generally nice people. Find a sympathetic person you can communicate with and unload all the ‘crap’ that your ex is doing to you. This helps keep you sane through the court process. Pick your friend wisely as most people do not want to hear regularly about nastiness as they have to deal with what is being told to them to. Also make sure your offloading is not going to be turned into gossip and aired publicly.

Get help from experts in mind control and narcissism. My first suggestion is getting a referral from your GP to see a psychologist / psychiatrist regularly through this ordeal to talk through with them what you are going through. This will allow you to avoid pitfalls, give you the type of emotional support you need when you need it, and will help you to get rid of the effects of the mind control.

My second suggestion of an external support mechanism for a self-represented litigant is a McKenzie Friend. Chose a McKenzie Friend who has had experience dealing with a Narcissist in court. This McKenzie Friend will actually understand mind control, will not blame you for the situation you are in, nor make you responsible for things that are not your responsibility. They can assist you in drafting your communications to your ex and helping preparing your property evidence.

6. Document everything you can as accurately as you can and lock down access to your assets.

You can never be too prepared. Against a narcissist evidence is going to be key to overcome their lies, embellishments and manipulation of the court. Don't wait for them to do things. Take matters into your own hands and push in the direction you want to go. Courts love paper trails.

Close down your bank accounts if your ex has access to the passwords or is a signatory on your personal account. Reopen them in a totally different bank and not a bank in any way associated with your ex.

If you have joint accounts, your ex may have already removed the money. If they haven’t, try and negotiate via email with them to split the funds fairly. The courts will investigate the flow of all money and who took it and who is entitled to it. Stay honest and above board at all times. On the other hand, a narcissist doesn’t think they have to obey the law. They will continuously thumb their noses at the rules. This will not be good for them in court.

You have to do all your homework in a property dispute that you can and store it in a safe place - somewhere they do not have any access to. The following list will help keep you focused on your end game as you need to compile and prepare this stuff for your case immediately, so communicating with your ex and their 'crap' gets pushed way down the pecking list:

  • Get copies (or even originals) of all paperwork of yours and theirs relating to property, banks statements, superannuation accounts, stocks, shares, contracts, business information, income statements, tax assessments, credit cards, all debts, pay slips, long service leave accrued and redundancy payouts etc.

  • Start to chronologically by date place your evidence in sequence. This makes it easier to write your Affidavit material. A Narcissist is not good at this.

  • Make a list of all jewellery and furniture/chattels and who has each item.

  • Make up a list of all the assets and liabilities your brought to the relationship at cohabitation. Track down this evidence.

  • Think up who you will need as witnesses. If you don’t have the evidence, who does? For example - Has there been any personal loans given to you by family or friends. Do you have proof of these debts as outstanding? If not, you will need to ask the people involved to prepare an Affidavit for your matter.

  • Make a list of all the contributions you made to the household, whether tangible (renovations) or intangible – household/domestic duties and being the primary care giver.

  • Save Everything - eMails, letters, Facebook messages, whatever you have that is associated with them. Just save it even if you don’t think it’s important. You never really know. The information may come in handy in so many ways from helping you find other information to proving intent in various situations.

  • Do not relinquish any rights of titles or deeds to properties or assets or mortgages until you are Ordered by the court. You ex will hound you to release yourself from the asset. But please don’t without a Judge ruling.

You are doing this to make sure you get what you are legally entitled to. You will regret it later if you don't.

7. Anticipate your ex’s charms will work on the court, but they will make obvious mistakes that can benefit you.

To you, the case may be clear-cut. But you can’t expect the courts to see it your way. Remain clear-minded and open to all outcomes. Plan for them mentally. Whatever you do, don’t get complacent or become naïve about how the courts will respond to your side. Your ex-spouse is likely to concoct all manner of stories, which the courts might buy given their considerable charm. But if you’re prepared for those outcomes, you’ll be better able to respond to them.

Know your case better than your ex and the court. Understand the flow of assets throughout your entire relationship/marriage. A narcissist tells so many lies, that when they have to lay it all out in front of a Judge with evidence they make huge mistakes as they don’t remember what they have said and when they do lie that lie becomes a truth to them in their world. Read through their material, make notes and go back through your emails etc as you will have something in writing from them showing they are lying or have doctored evidence.

8. Stay focused on why you separated in the first place and stay on point with what you are seeking as a property settlement.

Your ex-spouse’s self-centeredness, charisma and sexy charms can sometimes become attractive to you when you are not feeling at the top of your game, pulling you back into their orbit. Before you know it, your narcissistic ex has convinced you you’re crazy, your needs are outlandish, or that your perspective is simply wrong.

Unless you know exactly what you are doing, do not think you can outsmart them or manipulate them into doing what you want. They are masters of manipulation and will spot what you are doing straight away and will use this against you, too!

9. Get rest and sleep and enjoy your life

Understand and accept that your narcissistic ex is going to do and say a lot of things that upset you. Allow yourself to be upset, take a break, and then pick yourself up and keep going. No matter how good you are at managing your time and communications with a narcissist, until they are totally out of your life for good you need to give yourself downtime. During this time, do not devote 1 second to thinking about them or your court case. You will manage the situation better if you are not constantly on and tired.

You need to get back in touch with activities and people that your ex kept you from. Getting back in touch with yourself and what you want out of life. Set some personal goals for the next 12 months and go out and achieve them!

10. Prepare your court documents

Applying to a court for financial orders, including orders relating to the division of property and payment of spouse or de facto partner maintenance requires dedicated time and knowledge of the family court system and it’s processes. No doubt your Narcissist ex has hired lawyers and you don't want their legal representation steering the Judge.

You will need to know what forms to fill out and file, how to file them and who to serve, as well as procedural orders to request to help you move your case along in the direction you need it to go. If you are not confident, hire a McKenzie Friend, if you can't afford a lawyer.

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