Berman & Asbel, LLP

Property division can be complicated by personality disorders

Divorce can be challenging, even in the best of circumstances when both parties agree that the split is the right decision for all involved. When one spouse does not want to work amicably with the other to end a marriage in Pennsylvania, things can quickly degrade into a long and tedious process. However, there may be no divorce scenario worse than ending a union with a partner who is a true narcissist. When one spouse has a serious personality disorder, issues such as child custody or property division can turn into seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

Popular culture references now commonly include psychology terms that were once the strict domain of mental health professionals. We are quick to throw around terms such as bipolar, obsessive-compulsive or narcissistic to describe the character traits of certain individuals. However, it is important to remember that true personality disorders are serious conditions, and can have significant ramifications for the people who live with or near sufferers.

Narcissism is a prime example. A true narcissist has a dramatically inflated sense of self-worth, and usually expects those around him or her to express constant admiration or awe of their achievements. A narcissistic spouse can be especially difficult to handle during a divorce proceeding, and can slow or interfere with the process by refusing to negotiate, delaying turning over necessary documents or otherwise imposing his or her expectation of favorable treatment upon the other spouse.

One of the best ways to prepare for and combat problems brought on by a narcissistic partner is to be sure to accumulate sufficient levels of cash to get through the divorce period. If the other spouse shuts down access to shared accounts or credit lines, it will still be possible to cover the necessary expenses. It is also a good idea to collect any required documents or account balances prior to filing.

When it comes to matters of property division, it is realistic to expect a narcissistic spouse to fight for every item or asset he or she feels entitled to. It is important to fully understand one's rights under Pennsylvania law in order to ensure that a fair and equitable settlement is reached. The decisions made at this stage of the divorce can have lasting financial repercussions, making it imperative to move forward fully informed and with an eye toward future financial stability.

Source: Forbes, "Financial Strategies for Divorcing A Narcissist," Jeff Landers, Dec. 11, 2012

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