The Narcissist in Court

One of the most toxic people you will meet in family court is the narcissist. When it comes to a divorce case, the narcissist will often be pitted against a person with very low self-esteem. Narcissists are usually the cause of that low self-esteem as they have eroded their partner’s self image through a variety of means throughout the marriage.

In court, the narcissist will present as confident, calm and certain while his victim often appears stressed, frustrated, and not at all confident. The victim may be willing to give up almost everything just to regain her own life back. She may not feel that she is a fit mother for her children, as the narcissist has made sure that she feels unfit.

Dealing with someone who suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) in the family court system is a daunting task. It is not going to be easy, but you can make a conscious decision to be a survivor rather than continue being a victim. Knowledge is power and being educated, and prepared, can mean the difference between winning and being victimized again.. The trick to beating a narcissist in court is twofold in nature.

FIRST: Catch them in a lie when they are on the stand.

But, you must have absolute, incontrovertible proof of the lie, proof that is admissible in court by rules of evidence or by unassailable testimony. When confronted with the impeaching evidence, narcissists will react with fury, more lying (which will be visible to everyone except them) and will actively discredit themselves.

SECOND: Your counsel should structure the cross-examination of the narcissist so as to allow the narcissist to magnify his or her grandiose self. Sometimes it is enough just to let the narcissist be himself or herself.

What To Expect?

Narcissists are often vindictive and they often stalk and harass. There are two ways of coping with vindictive narcissists:

1. Frighten Them

Narcissists live in a state of constant rage, repressed aggression, envy and hatred. They are paranoid, suspicious, and scared. Frightening the narcissist is a powerful behavior modification tool. If sufficiently scared – the narcissist will disengage, give up everything he was fighting for and sometimes even make amends.

For this to be effective, you have to identify the vulnerabilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at him until he is deterred.


If a narcissist is hiding a personal fact- use this to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses and recently revealed evidence. The narcissist has a very vivid imagination; let his imagination do the rest. The narcissist may have been involved in tax evasion, malpractice, child abuse, or infidelity – there are many possibilities, all of which offer a rich vein of attack. If done cleverly, non-emotionally, in an escalating manner – the narcissist will disengage and disappear. You don’t have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, and suggest a possible turn of events. The narcissist’s imagination and paranoia will do the rest for you.

It must be added that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way – they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.

2. Lure Them

The other way to neutralize a vindictive narcissist is to offer him continued Narcissistic Supply until the war is over and won by you. Dazzled by the lure of Narcissistic Supply – the narcissist immediately becomes tamed, forgets his vindictiveness and triumphantly takes over his “property” and “territory”. Under the influence of narcissistic supply, the narcissist is unable to tell that he is being manipulated. You can make a narcissist do almost anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).

Tips to Survive and Thrive in Court

  1. Equip yourself for the legal battle: Many communities offer free divorce workshops, support groups or clinics through the courthouse. Spend a day in the courtroom to which you were assigned and familiarize yourself with the Judge or Commissioner’s style, the courtroom procedures and to the strategies used by attorneys.
  2. Prepare: Prepare for the reality that many of your friends will fall for the narcissist’s smear campaign. Because the general public is not educated in NPD, many will fall prey to his evil tactics. Remember that you too once believed what you were told by him. Narcissists will not accept that they had any part of the demise of the marriage. Take the high road and eventually, the narcissist will show his true colors to everyone.
  3. Document everything: Keep a daily journal for the day-to-day occurrences and write down every event, no matter how big or small. An example would be: “Documentation: August 15, 2013 — Failure to Show for Visitation” or so on.
  4. Get organized: You need to find a system that works for you. While there are a variety of ways to stay organized, the most common is the binder method. Have a binder for each year and keep things in chronological order.
  5. Eliminate or limit communication: If you can’t eliminate communication, keep it short and unemotional. While zero contact is best when ending a relationship with a narcissist, it is impossible if you have children together. Set personal boundaries and do not deviate from them. Not even once. Narcissists feed off of control, intimidation and eliciting emotions. Do not satisfy their twisted and selfish hunger by giving them what they are requesting.
  6. Practice acceptance: You need to accept the fact that you will never win in the mind of a narcissist. You will not be able to change their distorted thinking regardless of how many times you remind them of the real version of the story. You need to accept that you are not dealing with a rational person; acceptance is the key to moving forward.
  7. Maintain composure in court: Stay composed and focused and keep your emotions for outside the courtroom. The narcissist will project all of the problems and their shortcomings onto you. Respond to false allegations calmly with credible, factual information. Do not get caught up defending every minor allegation no matter how tempting it may be to set the story straight. This is the time to choose your battles wisely. It is very easy to get upset while listening to the testimony due to the dishonesty and manipulations. Listen calmly and take notes. Do not allow yourself to get sidetracked and angered. Stay focused and stay calm at all times.
  8. Make reminder notes: You need to remind yourself that you are dealing with a narcissist. If needed, write yourself a post-it note that says, “Reminder: I am dealing with a narcissist” and stick it to the front of your binder. Do not expect a narcissist to follow the law, rules or protocol of any kind. Expect lies, vicious attacks, bizarre behavior and the unexpected.

To summarize, the best way to handle a narcissist in court is to play it cool and let them hang themselves with their own rope. Narcissists will make outrageous claims and big demands. Let them swear and bluster… the worse their behavior is, the better it is for you.

Play it cool, show the court and the judge how rational and healthy you are, and how demanding and bullying the narcissist is. Most judges are excellent surveyors of human nature and can see narcissists for who they are.

Remember, though, when all is said and done, family law courts are usually not interested in the emotional aspects of your divorce. Most states are “no fault” divorce states; despite the fact that judges are people and have emotions, typically they are interested in numbers and custody issues. Judges are experienced at ignoring all the drama, but if you can get a narcissist to lie under oath, they will lose their credibility with the judge.


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11 Responses to “The Narcissist in Court”

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  1. Kristina says:

    The subjects you cover and your tips for handling a narcissist are a lifesaver for me. I am going through an awful divorce, trying desperately to get away from a narcissistic husband, and trying to keep myself above his drama, his lies and his rage.

    • Linda says:

      Me too this is awful my son is in the middle we could have gone with my 14 year olds wishes for where he lives and split the assets and cost us $6 we are now up to $20k and no further down the road

      Good luck thoughts are with you

  2. Jenn says:

    This advice hit the nail on the head!!! My N stood on trial and blamed divorce and several other things on me. We were prepared. He stated how our divorce had nothing to do with his affair.What a joke. I had prepared my attorney and he calmly unwound his stories. He got every dig in against me that he could. His only complaints was about things that I did during the first 30 days, like changing the locks on the house and putting his clothes in garbage bags on the drive way when he was on his way to pick up ( undamaged BTW ) I refused to rebuttal his comments and stuck to the facts. I stated that I was devastated and very angry because of his affair. Stating that I was unaware of his “years of unhappiness” I did state that I had not incinerated any contact with him in over a year and how he was continuing to call, text, write and send notes with the kids. Nice judge gave him a restraining order stating that all contact must be made thru lawyers. Since I don’t contact him I loved this.
    Sadly the judge declared us divorced and divided property for us. Neither of us were happy but I was satisfied and was willing to live with it. He has not since he filed papers for us to return to return to court because he is not happy! He is having to pay me spousal support for one year. After 26 years of marriage and me leaving career 3 times to support his career I feel that one year is minimal but I did not argue.
    Question? Do they ever stop? Every get over their anger? Do they ever stop blaming us? Do they every stop hating us? Does their rage calm?
    Now he is doing all he can to win adults kids. It kills me that I covered all of his lies and shit and now if I call him out they tell me that I am just bitter. True I am but I am still stating the truth.
    He is so angry with me because I exposed his infidelity which he continues to state that it was not the cause of the end of our marriage and is no one’s business including the kids. He stated is just between a husband and wife. He acts as if this doesn’t effect them as well. He also stated that he thought that I was a mother bear and would protect my kids. He wanted me to tell them that the end of marriage had nothing to do with affair but was because we drifted apart. I partly believe this as I was not happy either but there is never an excuse to cheat. I also told him that this mother bear was protecting her cubs from their father! He wanted me to lie to them so to protect himself not the kids.
    Our kids are severely damaged. My son stated that he feels that this is harder for them than me due to the fact that their father leaving them for another woman over them. He felt that he would never trust, believe or have respect for their father again. My daughter said that she felt that he and her should seek counseling, which he stated to him. He of course thought that was a good idea… it has been 6 months and he has yet to mention again nor to have scheduled appointment.

    Sorry to ramble tonight. It is my 52nd birthday and I am sitting home drinking too much wine. Angry at myself for so very many reasons!! Missing him, hating him, feeling to blame, bad that I am not stronger, VERY angry that he has moved on and is happy leaving me to pick up the pieces with the kids! Knowing that one day they will forgive him WTF!!! It is more than I can deal with

    Everytime I would email him about this stuff he would write me back stating that
    I live with these kids and let me tell you that their scars are deep!!!

    • jo says:

      hi, no worries about drinking some wine and letting off steam! I’m battling with an ex-partner through the courts re: our son, he’s 11 now and my reason for going back after 6 years is that the father went drinking and crashed his car whilst our son was in the car. Being true to a narcissist, which he is, ran off and hid (with my son) Car was too bad to drive away so to cut my long story short, Police turn up at MY door asking for him. My husband of 7 years was there too, told the police he was wasting your time and giving you the run around. GIVE THEM ENOUGH ROPE…….
      I’m in court on 16th jan. Wish me luck all the NPD loathers ;0)

  3. Melissa says:

    I’m just trying to keep a protective order against my ex narcissist bf who physically, mentally, and emotionally abused me for 2 years. He finally almost hurt my son so I had an exparte taken out on him I got him out I’ve been in court battles with him since 11/27/2013, He has a has to be narcissist criminal attorney who has turned the case on me that I am now a pill popping crazy person. I know from his sister that ex bf was forced to have a psychiatric evaluation and was determined to be a narcissist. He has managed to have the protective order dismissed, then go straight to my house from court before I could get there, my son had to flee to the neighbors call the police, the cop that showed up testified that I was clearly on under the influence of narcotics, which is after he had spent about 20 minutes talking the ex bf attorney. I put two warrants out for his arrest criminal domestic trespassing and breaking and entering. We go back to court last Friday the judge was about to give me the order and his attorney jumped up and started having an ex bf fit and the judge sternly said that she would extend a temporary order until February 7, 2013 but he had until 5 pm the next day to get the remaining items he had at my house. My attorney discussed with his attorney that all of his stuff would be outside but when the deputies and ex bf showed up the ex bf come storming at me demanding to get into my basement and I stood firm that he was not allowed in any part of my house so he starts screaming she’s high look officers she on pills. So the officers ask me to get the key and open my basement and pushed around in the insulation and finally pulled out a tape recorder. That I know has a recording of a meeting he had with officials regarding his work performance and he thinks he can use it to keep his job because they harassed him. LOL a dose of his own medicine. Bottom line he was able to take more of my things that day that did not belong to him. The day he was evicted with the exparte he stole a 7 carat diamond bracelet that I had for over 10 years, my laptop, sprayed poison on my plants, cut holes in my clothes, took 1 of many pairs of boots, cut the straps off of my bras, and the list goes on. I have to face him on February 2, 2014 where the District Attorney represents me for the breaking and entering and domestic criminal trespassing. It’s sad because all of the information that you read about narcissist is my life and unfortunately a man who is a danger to myself and my kids is not going to be kept from me and due to the fact I’ve had him arrested as I should have, and I’m still pursuing the protective order he is going to follow through with the treats he’s told me all along which is what kept me in the relationship for two years to begin with. I was terrified, but now I just can’t be. I’m trying to educate myself the best way I know how to some how out wit someone that is impossible to out wit. My character has already been attacked. The judge that originally dismissed the protective order was the same one who told me to take another back on him and she would sign it. Wanted to release herself from the case and testify on my behalf because she felt like he was going to harm me. A bailiff in the courtroom took me aside and said he had witnessed him in the courtroom before with his family over custody of his son and he was scared for me and he felt sure my ex bf is going to hurt me. The system does not protect you when you have been a victim and someone who already had self esteem issues. The officer said since I didn’t keep eye contact I was high. I can’t keep eye contact with men period I’ve worked on it throughout the years but that’s a problem but definitely not due to drugs. To end my rant through all of this craziness and cussing me in front of the cops he stood behind them where they couldnt see him crying and murmuring his lips and kept saying I love you, I love you, I love you, I turned my head and slammed my door. I wasn’t suppose to have to face him at all when he picked up his items. The police put me in the situation by being intimidated by ex bf outburst and they allowed him to get what he was demanding. With one exception. He tried to push right past them and was going to my bedroom but they physically got in front of him and said NO. Because he claimed to have luggage under my bed. I feel sure this has something to do with his next plot in court. He stole my personal journal unfortunately where I had vented some information that he would love to incriminate me for but he can’t provide the journal because that was reported as lost. So you’ll probably read about me on the web or see me on the news eventually. I’ve told my mom she better sue the county for all they have if something happens to me because I’ve tried and tried to prove the abuse but none of my evidence has been used. No matter what I’ve tried and it’s not over until it’s over. I know who I am and he’s pissed because I took his prize possession away from him too bad he can’t have me anymore. EVER!

  4. John says:

    I split with my violent ex two years ago after she beat me when I got home- holding my son in my arms. Got the whole thing on video and should have had her arrested but was too dysfunctional at the time… and paying for it now. I am married to a wonderful loving person now who is a great stepmother also, but the craziness and drama the ex is bringing into our lives is straining us. One of the things she is doing is over medicating our son… I tried getting DCFS involved but they brushed me off and said she could administer medicine as she wished as she was custodial. His doctor is concerned but obviously not enough to report it herself. I have proof she has lied and manipulated.. and intimidated us with threats of turning us in for negligence- so many times but we don’t know where to go or how to start… we are tired of getting ground under her boot. Please, does anyone know what we can do? How do we effectively take the fight back to her and end this? My spouse, my son and I deserve better.

  5. kathlene says:

    Ahhh yes…the wrath of the narcissist. Record Record Record! I’m taking my narc.mother to court for holding my child down physically and spitting in my daughters face. Now my NM has used my SS# and tried to have my gas shut off and rerouted all my mail.even tho I am hundreds of miles away. She is not allowing no contact as she abuses by proxy.I have her on tape admitting to how she was playing when she hurt my child- Not to mention how she let her men sexually abuse me as a child and hit me. To all of you out there fighting for your kids. Fight HARD-please
    ….these narcissistic dark souls are indeed dangerous to all around them,but esp to kids. The damage mentally and then how they cover abuses- so life seems “perfect” to outsiders. I cannot explain how a narcissistic parent can hurt their children. God help us all!

  6. just me says:

    Ny N ex is always very calm and cool though he has a self-described “wicked-tongue.” He saves his anger for private. He will not explode in court. He will maintain his calm cool head. Will he lie? I don’t know? Will he exaggerate, minimize, and cast blame elsewhere? Absolutely.

    Whats the best easy to “expose” or “handle” someone like that?

  7. just me says:

    I apologize for my above typos. On a cell with a small keyboard.

    Also, though he has inflicted emotional and economic abuse he has never inflicted any physical or sexual abusr.

    He is the nice guy. The pillar os society thay everyone adores.

  8. Claire says:

    Thanks for all the above. I’m facing my narcissistic ex and father of my 4 ninth old in court this month.
    I’m terrified of his vicious lies and as outlined above, he remains calm in public etc… Saves his rage n paranoia for behind closed doors.

    He is seeking joint custody, access and guardianship. He has access already, I’m opposed to joint custody naturally. He issue me with these court orders a mere 7 days post giving birth by section, I was barely out of hospital. I’ve had a year of hell.

    Any advice for court would be appreciated. I know he’ll use “I’m abusive, irrational an emotional” all untrue.


  9. Susan says:

    Going to court in Aug for millionth time per my NPD vindictive X. Every year he takes me to court. Every year he loses. Last year he called the police ten times to try and have me arrested. He even called the state department when I took my kids to euope. He asked them to arrest me for kidnapping. He altered text messages (that have been verified as altered) and had the police arrest me for harassment. I sent him multiple texts to stop texting me. In the middle of the series he put his own stop texting me. The police picked me up on Friday and I didn’t home until Monday evening. The charges My kids were devastated. They had heard him threaten to put me jail so many times….I would assure the kids….the police aren’t stupid….oops. It’s been seven years of at least 375 acts of harrasment

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