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When Your Ex-Spouse is Like the “Donald”

While many Americans are in disbelief with how US President, Donald Trump, is handling things, a group of women and men who has each divorced a narcissist, and some who are sharing child custody with one, are not that shocked anymore. They know the kind of person Donald Trump is, because they were once married to one. The successful, charismatic person who impressed them with promises enough to be swept off their feet. Slowly, they have realized that it was all part of the act. For narcissists like Donald Trump, there is no possibility of a “we” because they only care about themselves. The true battle is removing this toxic person from their lives and some of them still have to go through the difficulty co-parenting with an ex-spouse who thinks and acts like The Donald.

These type of divorce cases are the most difficult to handle. In family law, we refer to the person with a narcissistic personality disorder as an “NPD”. The legal battle follow all similar scenarios which involves the abused spouse explaining to the lawyers, judge and if there is one, a psychological expert, the NPD’s behavioral pattern which includes emotional abuse, control, duplicity, manipulation, and the damaging effect on the children. The NPD will then deny all of the accusations. His legal response would consist factual distortions, blame laying, deliberate lies and character assassination of the other spouse.

The experts and the judge are sometimes successful in weeding through the chaotic situation and identify the personality disorder present which allows them to make decisions protecting the children and the other spouse. However, oftentimes, the legal system gets it wrong. The court assumes the blame is equally attributable to both parties for the creation and maintenance of a high conflict case. This results to the innocent parent being treated skeptically as the NPD parent even though the former is just clearly fighting to protect the children.

NPDs are given shared custody or even primary custody and then continue to make the lives of the ex-spouse and their children miserable with the NPD’s toxic and dysfunctional behavior and the never-ending conflict they raise. Because of people like Donald Trump, the rest of the world now has a more visual understanding of NPD behavior.  Intense scrutiny of media has helped revealed the extent of The Donald’s bullying, lies, manipulation and explosive nature – these are all NPD markers. Trump has, in fact, been publicly diagnosed with NPD. Typical NPD Traits are the following: 

  1. Grandiosity;
  2. Motivated by power and control;
  3. Operate by their own set of rules;
  4. Create conflict or unable (sometimes unwilling) to resolve conflict;
  5. Quick to take offense and be angry;
  6. Victim blaming;
  7. Speaking the truth to them does not affect  their factually wrong stand;
  8. Respond to criticism by using insults.

NPDs such as Donald Trump say they do not create conflict. On the contrary, NPDs are all about conflict and chaos. When the battle is at its peak, NPDs will then play the victim. 

This is why trying to reason and co-parent with a NPD is beyond difficult because it is pointless and it leaves the other person feeling like they are living in a warped reality.

Lastly, NPDs are not good in teaming up with others. They are self-serving and controlling. They emotionally harm their children even if they actually love them this is because of their hypersensitivity to imaged and real wrongs and impaired empathy. When called out on their behavior, the NPD will shift the blame by claiming it is the other parent’s parental that causes fear, anxiety and stress to the children. 

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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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