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How to Choose the Best Attorney When Divorcing a Narcissist

Divorce is an impossibly difficult time, and often one or both of the parties find themselves in an incredibly difficult position when trying to work out the details.  Divorcing a narcissist, however, puts everything in exponentially more peril.  

Choosing the best attorney when divorcing a narcissist may be the most important decision you make.  But often, the victims of narcissistic spouses have never chosen an attorney for anything, let alone the biggest, most dangerous battle of their lives.  So, what do you need to do to choose that best one?

The Short Answer:

In choosing an attorney when divorcing your narcissist, you must choose one in tune with what drives the judge’s decisions in your case, understands all the ins and outs of narcissistic issues, and knows how to expose that narcissism in the courtroom.

Now that you have the short answer, let me give you all the details.  I put my experience together with my work with therapists and other experts and would like to share with you what I learned about choosing the perfect attorney for a narcissism related divorce and how it shaped my own divorce from my narcissist.

Choose an Attorney in Tune with the Judge(s) in Your Divorce

While this was a huge benefit in working through my divorce in the legal system, it was one I didn’t even think about when choosing my attorney.  I was lucky that it was an integral part of her strategy for representing me well in the courtroom.

Because she wasn’t a resident of my town, she didn’t let it stop her from learning about the functionality of the judges/court system where my case was being held.  She spoke with my children’s guardian-ad-litem, who worked in my city and was very well acquainted with the courts and judges in all of the courts.  The bailiffs and other attorneys had also worked with her and were kind and helpful to her.   (One even told her after our hearing that the judge actually loved working with her because she was so good at helping him to understand the important issues.)

How I Ended up with an Out-of-Town Attorney 

So, to explain how I ended up with an attorney who wasn’t from my city (I live in a metropolis with about 10 independent cities), my ex-husband had conflicted out all of the top lawyers in my city.  Conflicting out is when your opponent interviews all the attorneys in your city so they will then have a conflict of interest when you interview them to hopefully retain their services. 

By the time I got to the third attorney, she told me what was going on.  But she also told me that she knew exactly what he was up to and that she knew he would never retain her.  She said she could see his contempt for women in his body language, words, and story.  And she also told me that the rest of the court system would see it too.

At the same time this was going on, my oldest daughter had just finished going up against the state for an adoption case that had gotten held up.  Her lawyer, who was an award winning team with her husband, had put down the state’s case in about 5 minutes flat, allowing the adoption to finalize. 

When my daughter asked me how the attorney search was going and I told her what happened, she had an epiphany.  She said that since her lawyer had done such a good job for her, maybe she could be good for my case too.  

I called my new prospective attorney and had a consultation scheduled for the following week.  When we talked, I learned that she had a Bachelor’s degree in Religious Studies and had been married briefly to a narcissist.  The religious degree helped her to understand how my ex had used church government to try to control and destroy our family.  And her experience with a narcissistic husband combined with her experience as an attorney meant she knew how to expose narcissistic abuse in the courtroom.  

I could not have gotten a better attorney for my divorce.

Choose an Attorney who Understands Narcissistic Abuse and its Issues

As I mentioned above, the attorney I retained had been married to a narcissist.  So she understood narcissism on the deepest level possible.  She shared some of her experiences with him that were similar to what I was working through.  And she showed me not only that she not only understood narcissism but was able to make others deeply understand it as well.  

Do attorneys need to be married to narcissists to understand or be able to make the judge understand?  Certainly not, but it is definitely helpful for them to have experienced it on some level.  And honestly, the longer an attorney has been in their field, the more likely they are to have dealt with it in the court system.  

Feel free to ask your attorney during your consultation whether they have had experience with narcissism in their career.  But also be prepared to discern by their answer whether their experience will be what you need to work through your divorce or if you need to find an attorney that has more direct experience with the narcissism you have experienced.  

Choose an Attorney who can Expose Narcissism in the Courtroom

Just because an attorney has personally experienced narcissism, it doesn’t mean they know how to communicate it well to whatever judge they find themselves in front of.  Different judges hear things differently.  And for that reason, an attorney must understand exactly what the judge must hear to understand your side of the divorce and how he or she can rule safely and fairly in your case.  

You want to choose an attorney who can tell you exactly how they plan to make the court understand your true situation.  This will help you to know that your prospective attorney actually understands what you are telling him or her.  And it will give you the confidence you need regarding whether you feel they can represent your case well in court.  

Do not coach your prospective attorney on how you think they should handle the narcissistic and other issues in your case.  First, they should already know how to handle it without you telling them, and you need to hear their thoughts and ideas rather than inserting your own.  And second, if they don’t have experience in the issues you need them to understand, they may tell you what you want to hear anyway because they are interested in collecting a paycheck from servicing your case.

To be honest, the whole court system has seen plenty of narcissistic behavior and abuse.  So it should not be hard for you to find a good attorney who can represent you well.

Check out Your Prospective Attorney’s Rating

There is a rating system in America that will give you substantive proof of how well your attorney performs in court.  But it can’t tell you everything.  

You can find this information at  Along with ratings of American attorneys, Avvo also provides in-depth reviews by former clientele and disciplinary records. 

You can also receive free legal advice, read questions and answers from other people who have gone before you, and read professionally written articles by other attorneys.  It is a treasure trove of information to you as you select the attorney who is going to help the judge understand what he or she needs to and your future is depending on.   

Talk to Friends, Family, and Acquaintances About their Attorney Experiences

Often, the absolute best recommendations for the best attorney come from asking those around you what their experiences were with their attorneys.  As I mentioned above, I ended up finding my perfect attorney because my daughter had an excellent experience with her.  But at the time, neither one of us realized how perfect she was based on her own personal history.  It was truly a godsend.

You will need to weigh the recommendations or non-recommendations by the specific details of your people’s experiences with their attorney. Do their experiences line up with what you need to accomplish in the courtroom?  If they had a negative experience, what caused it?  What did they do to try to avoid the negative result?  Did they do anything to try to improve the situation? 

Realize that while excellent attorneys are able to do great things for their clients, they are still limited somewhat by the other players in the system.  In my case, I received much less spousal support than I should have.  But if I had gone for more, my ex-husband would have shifted gears to make sure I got less money no matter what direction I went.  In the end, she got me the support that allowed me to at least  make sure the bills were all paid.  While she knew my ex was manipulating the support details, she wasn’t a mind reader.  But she did the best she could to make sure I was at least financially secure.  What she did do, though, was get me sole custody which is nearly unheard of in my state.

One other circumstance that your attorney, no matter how good, cannot control is judges who don’t rule fairly.  They can present the best, most clear evidence to the judge, but at the end of the day, if the judge doesn’t like women (or maybe they don’t like men), had a bad day and chooses to take it out on those in the courtroom, doesn’t pay close enough attention to what is really going on (or doesn’t care–you are literally just the next case on his/her docket), or a myriad of different reasons, the judge just may not come down on the right side of the situation.  Ultimately, your attorney can do nothing about that.  Except appeal and hope for a better judge. 

No Attorney will be Perfect

Attorneys are human, and therefore, not perfect.  With that in mind, you must weigh any negative Avvo reviews, negative friend reviews, or even negative personal experiences you may have had with an attorney with what they can practically do in your situation.  That doesn’t mean overlook all the mistakes because all attorneys make mistakes here and there.  It means find the best attorney based on pros and cons for your particular situation.  

I recommend a few different attorneys for the different people in my support groups based on the needs they communicate to the group.  And unfortunately, some of the best attorneys for some people ended up being really bad for others.  There are so many moving parts in this experience that there is no one perfect answer for everyone.  That makes it a very difficult issue to navigate, but not impossible.  Rely heavily on your support systems, and you will be okay!  And once you get through these dark days, you will be so much better than okay!!!


Your choice of attorney will literally affect how you live the rest of your life, but especially in the near future.  This fact makes it imperative that your attorney fully understands all the ins and outs of narcissistic abuse.  And they must be able to clearly communicate that to the judge.  

One final thought in regard to this is that choosing the best attorney is important, but unfortunately, sometimes no matter how good your attorney is, you cannot control the judge assigned to your case.  And you can’t control how the judge rules in your case.  Judges are not perfect.  And often they will not rule as objectively as they should.  

At the end of the day, if you pick the best attorney for your case, it is the best chance you have of winning your day in court.  And protecting you and your children.

Are you facing a divorce with a narcissist and dreading the upcoming court hearings?  Or even just working with the lawyers/mediators?  Maybe you are in the midst of the court drama and trying to figure out how to keep your head above water with your narcissist’s constant attacks.  Or maybe you are on the other side and can offer encouragement to others who are now going through it!  Please feel free to share in the comments below!  And for those of you who have questions that those who went before you can answer, please ask below!  

Hugs, love, and prayers to you,

If you found this article helpful to your (or a loved one’s) situation, here are some related articles that you may find even more helpful:

Divorcing a Covert Narcissist:  What to Look out For

How to Prove Narcissistic Abuse in Court

Guarding Against the Narcissist’s Divorce Tactics

Everything You Need to Know About the “God Hates Divorce” Verse

What it Looks Like When God Leads You to Divorce

The Crazy Games Narcissists Play During Divorce

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Hi! I am the founder of Navigating Religious Narcissism after being raised under a narcissistic mother and married to a narcissistic man for 31 years. It is my prayer that I can be as valuable on your journey to healing and peace as were so many who crossed my path of healing.

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