High Conflict Divorces with Narcissists and Other Cluster Bs (Psychopaths, Narcissists, Borderlines)

Not all Cluster B divorces are high-conflict ones; however, I have said repeatedly that all high-conflict divorces involve at least one Cluster B personality-disordered individual (NPDs, BPDs, HPDs, AsPDs). By now, you’ve probably done your research, and you’ve figured out that Cluster-B disordered individuals have trouble regulating their emotional responses, and their typical response to any dialogue is naturally to “fight” and will entail major defensiveness and the fight response, which usually stems from serious, childhood trauma, frozen in their neural pathways, and will also include a neuro-biological component, too.

Unknowing legal professionals call these high-conflict spouses “difficult” or “animated.” These are not just high-conflict people, and as Bill Eddy, the attorney who founded the High Conflict Institute accurately notes, “High conflict people aren’t just difficult people, they’re the MOST difficult people.” This is absolutely true, and when I hear attorneys who are clueless about Cluster B disorders make statements such as, “These two just don’t get along,” or, “They’re just very animated people,” I cringe. Again, “All high conflict divorces entail at least one Cluster B-disordered individual.” Bill Eddy is not only a family law attorney, mediator, and licensed social worker with decades of experience working with high-conflict people, also known as, Cluster Bs, he is one of the most accomplished legal authors, in my opinion. If you haven’t read “High Conflict People in Legal Disputes” by Eddy, I highly recommend it.

Some High Conflict People Will Eventually Settle

There is a small minority of high-conflict people that will settle, and believe it or not, it may happen sooner, rather than later. In my experience, it happens when there are allegations of sexual deviancy, homosexuality, and jeopardy of losing their jobs or reputations. However, most settlements with Cluster Bs occur later in the process, if they are capable of settling at all.

High Conflict People Blame Others

Cluster Bs have spent their entire lives blaming others for their misfortunes, and they’ve become masters of projection to avoid accepting responsibility for their horrific behavior. They’re also extremely good at seeking sympathy from others and garnering attention, so, don’t be surprised that the courtroom sets up the perfect stage for their acting skills. They’re also very cunning and will lie and use other forms of deception without any forethought. This is how they’ve operated their whole lives. This means that the pleadings they file will be full of character distortions about you, and they use the legal system to punish their targets for whatever is happening. You can anticipate that their behavior will be at full throttle immediately after one of you files for divorce, sends discovery, files for support, or files for custody, including any modifications to custody agreements. Additionally, many Cluster Bs are notorious, especially anti-social personality disorder (ASPD) Cluster Bs, of ignoring court orders. Since many NPDs are also ASPDs (comorbidity), you can expect this behavior if they’re pathological liars.

Emotionless is Not Always Good for You

Your attorney should not tell you to look completely emotionless in court, but you should not react spitefully, either. It’s a fine line, and it’s extremely difficult not to react after you’ve been a target of their abuse for years, but because they are dramatic and erratic, and they love drama, they will be full of emotions in court, and remaining completely emotionless isn’t always effective, either. Judges are only human, and they react to emotions, too. Imagine if your child was crying about falling, you would feel empathy for your child, more so than if your child showed you a skinned knee but was completely matter-of-factly about it. So, the same rule applies. Remember that the Cluster B is running to his/her attorney full of emotions to convince him/her of your “atrocious” behavior. The attorney is likely to fall for it, unaware of personality disorders.

Deal with Mediators, Evaluators, and any Other Professionals Quickly

The Cluster B will attack first. Rely on your attorney to respond as quickly as possible, and your attorney or you should be letting the professional know what the Cluster B will say about you and the character distortions, assassinations, and smear campaigns. This way, you can preempt them. This also applies to pleadings. Answer each allegation truthfully, and know that we do not believe a word of their character distortions about you, and they will always allege psychological problems, abusive behavior, and so on, as they are masters of projection and blame.

In my blogs, I sometimes refer to narcissists as psychopaths or sociopaths. To me, all Cluster Bs, especially, narcissists, are the same as psychopaths and sociopaths. They are all pathological liars, cause significant emotional, physical, and financial harm. They have very shallow – if any at all – emotions (except for rage and anxiety – these are their typical states of being), and they are all devoid of moral conscience. This means narcissists don’t care about how you feel. I really wish I didn’t have to tell you this, but Cluster Bs usually do not care about their children, and since they’re incapable of empathy and love, children to them, are no different. I have had to admit this to myself, and obviously, I would never tell my children this. They don’t need to know this now, and usually, they’ll reach the conclusion on their own when they have the defense mechanisms necessary to protect their egos.

If you’re ready to begin the divorce process, contact Keithley Law, PLLC  today by calling (703) 865-7710 and schedule an initial consultation in our Fairfax law office with one of our real estate attorneys. We can walk you through the steps to get the most out of your case


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