Navigating divorce from someone with a personality disorder

Divorcing someone with a personality disorder presents a host of challenges. This person can be paranoid, emotionally unstable and have antisocial behaviors; they can be attention-seeking or volatile.

Because of these factors, the divorce process can look different if your ex has a personality disorder.

Mediation may not work

Someone who is manipulative or controlling may not be capable of being cooperative, which is necessary for alternatives to litigation (like mediation) to be successful. Even with a trained mediator, efforts can be fruitless for someone with narcissistic or borderline personality disorders.

Thus, it may be wise to prepare to go to court for at least some of the divorce-related issues. 

Direct communication can be ineffective

Divorcing spouses often have reason to communicate before the divorce is final. They may need to talk about a child’s school schedule or find a realtor to sell their home, which means they have to communicate with each other. 

When one party has a personality disorder, every one of these conversations can be a battle. The other person can feel attacked, even when there is no threat. They might lie, be suspicious or get aggressive.

Because of this, verbal communication can be unwise. Keep exchanges in writing and, if necessary, have all conversations go through your attorneys.

Family issues can be especially sensitive

Most parents have anxiety about custody issues, but protecting a child’s best interests can be more complicated when a parent has a personality disorder.

You may need to consult psychologists, child custody counselors and other professionals to help determine the best arrangement for a child. You may need to put specific rules in your custody agreement, like how you will exchange custody or whether the other person must take prescribed medication or attend parenting classes.

The importance of support

Considering all the challenges that a personality disorder can present during a difficult divorce, it is crucial to have support throughout the process.

Legal professionals can help you secure a fair settlement without having to confront your ex by yourself. Mental health professionals can help both parties understand complicated diagnoses. Your friends and family can provide love and support during a tumultuous time. With this assistance, it can be easier to get through a divorce and focus on the future.