Narcissism is not a legal term
Gathering evidence of a narcissistic ex’s behaviour to prove domestic abuse in the family court or in any other formal arena where decisions have to be made, can be a nightmare. It can be an uphill struggle to get people to understand what it’s like and that you’re not the problem. To be successful you need to have gathered evidence of the narcissist’s actual behaviour. Don’t get distracted into trying to prove the diagnostic label applies, which might be the job of a psychiatrist but is certainly not the job of an ex in the family court. Only by having evidence of abusive behaviour, whether it is narcissistic or any other kind of dysfunctional behaviour, can a court properly understand your problem and what needs to be done to sort it out.
Lots of people complain online about narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder and the harm they’ve suffered at their hands. There are Facebook groups, blogs and YouTube videos dedicated to the topic, discussing the signs and symptoms, the perils of getting involved with someone who presents in this way and how to manage your interactions with them. But if you’re dealing with a narcissist in the family court or any other similar arena DON’T think about it in terms of having to prove a diagnosis and whether someone meets the criteria for a diagnosis, as that only unnecessarily complicates things and misses the point completely.
If you’re gathering evidence of a narcissist’s behaviour in a family court case understand and describe the impact of those behaviours
If you are involved in legal proceedings, such as a divorce or a dispute over children, ‘narcissism’ and ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ are not useful or meaningful terms as far as the court is concerned. They are diagnostic terms to describe a tendency to behave in particular ways but which do not define precisely what any individual person’s behaviour may actually be. The diagnoses include a wide range of behaviours, some of which the person in question may have and some that they will not have. You’re in the realms of needing an expert to prove the point and it’s unlikely the court would allow it. It would be expensive to get an expert opinion and of little value to your case. Don’t refer to either of these labels in your evidence. For the purposes of a legal case you need to concentrate on describing the person’s actual behaviour, the things they do and say, and its impact on you and the children. You will need to have good evidence of those behaviours in records you’ve kept.
ONRECORD is ideal to help you with this. Here’s how ONRECORD can help you record evidence of narcissism. And here’s how to use ONRECORD to gather evidence.
If you’re gathering evidence of a narcissist’s behaviour in a family court know there’s a wide range of severity of behaviour
As in all legal cases, it’s the actual behaviour that counts and is the evidence that the court wants to see. Trying to apply the ‘narcissism’ label to your opponent isn’t the key evidence of your problem and clouds the real issues. Nonetheless, it’s still helpful for you to know what ‘narcissism’ and ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ mean as it helps you decide which behaviours are the ones most likely to be key and which ones you have evidence for.
There are many degrees of severity of narcissism, causing different degrees of harm. As an example, someone whose narcissism causes actual harm to themselves or others and consequently could be diagnosed as having a narcissistic personality disorder may engage in (follow the links for more information):
- making false allegations and deception to mislead the court
- non-compliance with court orders
- parental alienation,
- domestic abuse
- coercive controlling behaviours
At the milder end of the scale, they may just be an attention-seeking nuisance or even charming company but sometimes annoying.
From a legal point of view, being a narcissist is not what’s relevant. The key question is not “Will I be able to prove that my opponent is a narcissist?” but “Can I show the behaviours of my opponent are serious enough to be taken into account in decision making and are harmful and especially harmful to my children?” It’s the children and what abuse they may be experiencing which are the primary interest of the court.
Learn more about how the family court thinks about child custody, contact/visitation and other child arrangements here
Men can also be victims of narcissistic behaviour
Men can be victims of abuse by women just as women can be victims of men. Men are most likely to experience a particular form of coercive control through threats to deprive them of contact with their children by women making application to the family court. This can be described as legal and administrative abuse. To learn more about the abuse of men by women, watch this podcast interview with Deborah Powney.