Choosing a Divorce Lawyer or a Family Lawyer can be very challenging for anyone – and this is especially true when narcissistic abuse is involved. According to David T. Pisarra, a family divorce lawyer, “The real problem is beyond our role as lawyers, and many psychologists will agree that it is beyond theirs as well, because personality-disordered people have a low rate of success in treatment.”
“Therefore,” Pisarra writes, “the value we can bring to our clients is a strategy to deal with the abuser and try to contain the damage as much as possible.”
Pisarra says that when he was a new attorney, one of his senior colleagues told him that in cases where emotional abuse is involved, there’s so much more than meets the eye, adding that it took him “about five years and many hours of sitting in MCLE courses on family dynamics, psychology, the domestic abuse cycle, along with reading books on personality disorders to truly understand what the old man meant: there are often core childhood issues we deal with in high-conflict divorce cases that are more deep-seated than any issue being fought over during the divorce.”
Experienced divorce lawyers and family lawyers can help you through a very stressful time in your life and also help you avoid very costly financial and emotional mistakes. Very difficult and life-altering decisions must be made, affecting many personal and important issues, such as child custody, child access or visitation, joint custody, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, equalization of net family properties, the matrimonial home, separation agreements, among many others. Choosing the right divorce and family lawyer is the key to obtaining the best results in your divorce.
You and your children’s rights and well being may be affected for many years in the future. Divorce and family laws are full of many legal technicalities and are frequently subject to legal interpretation and your divorce lawyer or family lawyer must be experienced in these areas. Issues of child custody and child support can profoundly affect your children’s ongoing development.
Choosing the Right Divorce Lawyer for You
If you’re considering divorcing a narcissist, it is essential that you consult a divorce and family lawyer to find out your rights and obligations. A few tips:
- Do not sign anything or take any action that can affect you or your children’s rights, without getting proper legal advice from a qualified family and divorce lawyer.
- Hiring the right divorce and family lawyer requires more work than simply looking through your local yellow pages. You can start your search for a divorce and family lawyer by talking to friends and family and asking for referrals. Contact your real estate or business lawyer for a referral to a family and divorce lawyer. There are many other ways to find divorce and family lawyers as well. When you have found some, Google the divorce and family lawyers’ names and read any articles they may have written.
- Family and divorce lawyers should be chosen on the basis of their experience and years of practice. Does the divorce lawyer specialize in, or primarily handle, divorce, child custody, child access or visitation, joint custody, child support, spousal support, property division, debt division, equalization of net family properties, the matrimonial home, separation agreements and all other related family and divorce law issues?
- Lawyers who also practice business law, real estate, criminal law etc. are generalists and do not specialize in divorce and family law and will not be a good fit – especially when dealing with a narcissistic spouse.
Meeting with Your Divorce Lawyer
When you meet with a family and divorce lawyer, ask questions but prepare your questions in advance.
- How is child custody, child access or visitation decided?
- What is joint custody or shared custody?
- How much will you receive or will you have to pay for child support and for how long?
- How does spousal support work?
- How will your property be divided and what is included?
- What happens to your home?
- Who pays for your debts and loans?
- How much will it cost?
- What steps are involved in the process?
- How long will it take?
- Can you settle or do you have to go to Court?
- What is a Separation Agreement?
Tip: Don’t forget to ask what the lawyer’s philosophy is about negotiating a settlement or litigating (going to court should be a last resort).
Make Sure Your Divorce Attorney Understands Narcissistic Abuse and Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Ask questions such as:
- Can you please explain a “High Conflict” divorce to me?
- Have you ever dealt with a high conflict divorce before?
- Do you notice a link between high-conflict divorce and cluster B personality disorders?
- Have you previously argued a case like mine?
- Have you previously won a high-conflict divorce case when a narcissist was involved?
- Are you familiar with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and can you explain to me your understanding of it?
- Are you willing to work with therapists or other experts in NPD to faciltate my case?
The family and divorce lawyer should be explaining all this and much more to you at your first meeting. Make sure the divorce and family lawyer you choose answers your questions and makes you feel that you and your case is important and not just another number.
Your lawyer should not talk to you in “legaleeze” but in ordinary language so that you understand exactly what is going on and what will happen in the future. You must choose a lawyer who you feel comfortable with and with whom you can trust to reveal your personal and confidential information and someone who will not make you feel foolish or uncomfortable for asking questions about things you do not understand.
Your divorce and family lawyer should be compassionate and understanding due to the emotional issues involved. Many divorce and family lawyers have gone through their own personal divorces and have experienced your situation personally as well as professionally and may be in a better position to empathize with you and understand exactly how you are feeling and how they can help you better.