One question we are often asked by clients is “Can mediation work if I am divorcing a narcissist?” Whether your spouse has received a diagnosis for this personality type, or simply displays similar behaviors, divorce mediation can work for any couple who is able to cooperate and work together amicably.
Is Divorce Mediation Right For Me?
Before we delve into the specifics of how divorce mediation can work when divorcing a narcissist, it’s important to understand the basic process. Divorce can be complex and stressful, especially if it involves contentious topics like child custody, alimony, and child support. However, litigation does not have to be the endpoint of the dissolution of a marriage. Many couples choose divorce mediation to cooperatively and amicably resolve their dispute and reach an agreement before the court gets involved. Through mediation services, both parties work with an impartial mediator to create a legally binding agreement based on both parties’ needs and desires. New Jersey divorce & separation mediator Steven B. Menack has decades of experience in making divorce mediation as stress-free as possible for the sake of both the couple and any children involved.
Read our comprehensive guide to divorce mediation and legal separation in New Jersey for more information.
Can Mediation Work When Divorcing a Narcissist?
People that have these types of personalities may try to avoid mediation. No matter what their reason, be it conceit, a desire to chastise the other spouse, or some other reasoning, they sometimes don’t view mediation as an appropriate meeting for their needs. A some mediators are going to screen spouses in order to bypass high-conflict and disparaging situations.
Having said that, many couples will still decide on mediation, specifically when they’re concerned about the expense of a contested divorce. In these situations, spouses might need to look for mediators with experience in mediation and who are willing to work alongside high-conflict spouses. “Shuttle diplomacy” is a useful technique that requires having the spouses be in separate rooms throughout the mediation. The mediator then shuttles in and out, passing on offers and counteroffers. This keeps the communication and conflict at a minimum, so the spouses can concentrate on their divorce negotiations, instead of each other.
If you plan to terminate your marriage with your abusive, narcissistic, or highly conflicting spouse, it’s wise to contact a divorce mediator for assistance. Mediation can work as long as the couple can put aside their differences for their mutual benefit.
Signs of Narcissistic Personality Disorder
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V), to be diagnosed with NPD a patient must display at least five of the following behaviors over a period of time:
- Has an exaggerated sense of self-importance – has feelings of entitlement and self-centeredness and exaggerates achievements and talents
- Preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal romance
- Believes they’re special and can only be understood by other special people or institutions
- Requires constant attention and admiration from others
- Has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
- Exploitive – takes advantage of others to meet their own needs/reach their own goals
- Lacks empathy – cannot recognize others’ feelings and needs
- Often envious of others or believes other people are envious of them
- Grandiosity – shows arrogant behaviors or attitudes
What Does a Divorce Mediator Do?
As a neutral third party that is trained to help couples resolve disputes, a mediator helps divorcing couples by performing the following tasks:
- Facilitates the communication between the parties by making sure each party is given an uninterrupted time to speak
- Asks parties to restate or explain a point when necessary
- Asks questions to make communication clear
- Provides information about the legal system
- Describes how issues may be viewed by lawyers or judges
- Fair discussions on spousal support or child support
- Identifies alternatives for solving issues
- Refers the couple to third party experts for services such as appraisals when it’s appropriate
Benefits of Divorce Mediation
There are several benefits of mediation services over a traditional divorce, including:
- Cost. Mediation costs much less than the traditional divorce process. Steven B. Menack charges no retainer fees.
- Time. While there is no rush and clients can go at their own pace, divorce mediation can be resolved in as little as 2 or 3 months, whereas traditional divorces can take over a year.
- Atmosphere. Hiring a neutral and experienced third party to mediate helps keep the deliberation calm and collected rather than hostile and adversarial, as can often happen while discussing a divorce settlement. This is especially important when children are involved, as a peaceful resolution can help avoid the trauma that can result from more contentious divorces.
Learn more about the NJ divorce mediation process.
We Don’t Get Along Well, Is Mediation Still Possible?
Many couples who choose mediation are amicable and work well within the mediation process. However, part of every qualified mediator’s training is in assisting couples who have high emotions but who still would like to work things out peacefully. People do calm down and become effective in mediation when they see that the process can work without adding to the high emotional and financial cost of divorce.
Contact Steven B. Menack today to learn more about whether divorce mediation is right for your situation.