Going to family court against a Narcissist is tough. Brace yourself. Narcissists fight hard and they don’t fight fair. A narcissist sees no need to compromise; they need to win. And they doesn’t just want to win; they want you to lose. Plus, they want to punish you for not doing everything their way.
Going to court is emotionally and mentally draining. It takes a lot of preparation. But sometimes it’s necessary to go to court. The likelihood is that you’ve ended up in court because of his or her refusal to discuss terms on any reasonable basis. Sometimes you have no other choice. I’m so sorry. If you are preparing to go in front of a Judge, here are some things I learned from my multiple trips to the Courthouse:
Document everything. Depending on why you are going to court, you will want to make copies of all the financial information, threatening/argumentative emails, dates/times/locations when your spouse interfered with your interactions with the children, expenses they refused to pay, alienating texts to the children, times they didn’t take the kids during their possession time, recommendations from the child’s counselor, etc. I kept an excel spreadsheet titled “Custody Notes” where I documented everything related to custody by date in one place. Don’t rely on your memory or random scraps of paper.
Prepare & organize your information and yourself:
Prepare your documents. It takes a lot of time figuring out what documents you want, then printing and organizing them. Work with your lawyer to have it laid out the way they want it. I made duplicate copies of everything for my lawyer and myself. To organize my information, I used binders, separated by the various topic with tabs. Then, I used a yellow highlight pen to highlight the relevant facts on each page and wrote in clarifying notes at the top of the page. That way, each document was easy to skim and get the relevant information. I also had backup documents that I wasn’t sure I would need, just in case an issue came up.
Prepare yourself for the questions your lawyer will ask you and decide how you will respond. What are the main points you and your lawyer want to get across? Make sure those key points get repeated during your testimony so the judge is sure to hear the pattern. The Judge may be distracted or not paying attention during one part of the hearing, so it’s important to repeat the points you want to make.
Prepare your responses to potential cross-examination questions from his/her lawyer. By being ready for questions and practicing my answers, I felt more confident and less fear when I was on the witness stand. It’s still scary when you’ve never done it before. (That’s where prayer helps!)
Prepare mentally by not over-booking yourself for a couple of days prior to court. You don’t want to be frantic and frazzled going into court. Know that some last minute issues or documents may need your time or attention, and you want the bandwidth to focus on anything that comes up. Save some time that morning before court to pray, mediate, exercise – whatever you like to do to calm down and get centered.
Know what to expect:
The first time you go to Court, know it can be intimidating because you don’t know what to expect. After you’ve been a handful of times, it’s still intimidating but not nearly as much as the first time. If you have the time to go down to your Judge’s courtroom and sit through a morning of cases, you might learn a little about your judge and minimize some of the first time jitters.
Ask you lawyer to run through the hearing with you. Depending on why you are going to court, will your hearing last a few minutes, a few hours, or a few days? When will you testify? Who will he/she call as witnesses (if applicable)? Where will you meet your lawyer when you arrive to the Courthouse? What does he/she want you to bring?
Expect to hear misinformation and lies against you. Expect to be attacked by his lawyer. Do not be surprised. I was shocked how dishonest my XNarc’s lawyer was, and it threw me for a loop. So learn from me – and don’t be surprised.
“One thing is certain with narcissists; when you separate from them, and still have legal, property or custody to sort out …They will pathologically lie. As such, you can expect fabricated stories, twisted facts and downright dirty tactics.
The narcissist is very capable of telling…courthouses exactly whatever lies he or she wants to, in order to try to punish you, get the upper hand and win, project blame, create smear campaigns, play the victim as if he or she has been vilified (especially when things aren’t going well for him or her), and of course disregard any personal accountability for his or her unacceptable behavior. What else would you expect? Why should this be a surprise?
Melanie Tonia Evans http://blog.melanietoniaevans.com
Stay calm in court:
Don’t make eye contact with the Narcissist. Ignore him/her. This protects you from their attempts to intimidate you AND it takes away their “Narcissistic Fuel” or “Narcissistic Supply”. I looked at my notebook, the judge, anyone but my XNarc. We all know there’s not going to me a kind, compassion face there, so why even bother looking?
Have some scripture or prayers on your phone or a notecard to read while you are waiting. I had scripture written down that I prayed as we were waiting for the hearing to start. Psalm 37: 1-9, Psalm 23 and Isaiah 41:10 were the scriptures I read today while waiting for the Judge to come into the courtroom. That kept my mind focused on heavenly things instead of anxiousness or fear.
Have a friend or family member attend the hearing with you. A friend has come with me to each major hearing. It is comforting to know that someone is there for you. It was hard to ask, as I didn’t want to inconvenience my friends, but it was good for me to ask, and it was good for my friends to know I needed them. If you don’t have a friend or family member who can come, see if your local women’s shelter provides a case worker or volunteer to go to court with you. Mine does, and I would use that if needed.
When you are cross-examined, answer the questions calmly and briefly. Take a deep breath between questions. Pause if you need to before you answer. I get anxious and answer quickly, and I wish I had instead paused and thought through my answers.
Remember, the Narcissist and their lawyer will say untrue things about you and try to throw you off balance. It is normal to get upset. Don’t. Stay calm. You can always reply: “That is not true. The facts are X.”
Much prayer was raised up before my trial by me and my friends. I asked a circle of friends to pray for wisdom and peace for me, for wisdom for my lawyer, and for “eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to know the truth” for the Judge. We prayed the Judge would have compassion and grant me relief.
It is a tough day. Give yourself, if possible, time that night and the next day to rest, pray, cry, heal, walk. Ask a friend to come by the next day and check on you. You may need a little extra love.
Have a meal prepared ahead of time so that you are not scrambling to fix dinner that night.
Try to think of this as a gift. It confirms why the Narcissist is not to be trusted, nor to be partnered with. It is a blessing to know this person will be out of your house and out of your life.
Love and blessings,
Readers, what other things did you do to prepare for going to Family Court with the Narcissist? We would love to hear your ideas.