Carlsbad Family Law Attorneys

Are You Divorcing a Sociopath? How to Emerge Unscathed

For those who have been married to a sociopath, the concept of divorce can feel insurmountable. After all, if the sociopathic tendencies crept into the marriage, why would they cease during a divorce?

Escondido Divorce Attorney John Griffith explains, “If you have a sociopath for a spouse, the last thing he or she will want is losing control of you via divorce. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to prepare and understand the situation more fully.”

What’s the Difference Between a Sociopath and a Psychopath?

Though experts don’t always agree on the use of the terms sociopath and psychopath, both of these conditions fall under the same category, called antisocial personality disorder, set out by the DSM-5. This book, also known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is the resource used by the American Psychiatric Association to classify and diagnose mental problems.

Personality Disorders

DSM-5 identifies ten different types of personality disorders. The term “personality disorder” is specifically defined as “a way of thinking, feeling and behaving that deviates from the expectations of the culture, causes distress or problems functioning, and lasts over time.”

Sociopathy falls under their “Cluster B” category (known as the dramatic, emotional, erratic cluster) and more generally falls under antisocial personality disorder. Though this broad term includes both psychopaths and sociopaths, it has the characteristic of “disregarding or violating the rights of others.” Neither sociopaths nor psychopaths have regard for the law or social norms and rarely feel guilt or remorse.

Sociopaths vs. Psychopaths

There are key differences between sociopaths and psychopaths. In laymen’s terms, a sociopath can be considered “hot-headed,” while a psychopath is more “cool and calculating.” Sociopaths often act erratically and are more prone to violence than their psychopathic counterparts. Sociopaths typically have consciences, albeit weak ones, where psychopaths may lack them altogether.

Finally, psychopaths are often able to successfully mimic common human behavior, including emotions, and can be described as charming or charismatic. For the impulsive sociopath, however, there is usually no pretense in behavior; he or she will make no qualms about the fact that they’re only interested in their own wellbeing.

How to Divorce a Sociopath

For those wanting to divorce a sociopathic spouse, here are some tips on what to expect when divorcing a sociopath and how to prepare for a more successful outcome:

  • Try to discern whether the spouse truly has a personality disorder. If so, this will help explain why he or she acts irrationally during court proceedings.
  • Sociopaths aren’t interested in being “fair and rational,” so it should be expected that this type of tactic will usually be futile in negotiations.
  • Seek counseling. Especially for those with children involved in the divorce process, this is vital for everyone’s mental health.
  • Be prepared for lies and manipulation. For most sociopaths, honesty is no virtue, and the bottom line is their own self-interests.
  • Keep track of all correspondence, written or verbal. Sociopaths may use intimidation or threats to get their way. Keeping proof of this will help in court. California requires consent for a person’s conversation to be recorded.
  • Do not modify court orders. For example, for visitation or child support rights, it’s best for each party to stick to the agreement. Otherwise, a sociopath may twist the situation to best suit his or her case and can result in vast injustices to the other party.
  • Stay calm. While this much easier said than done, it will help in the long run to not allow a sociopath to elicit an emotional response from others.
  • Seek experienced professional help. It’s best to seek divorce attorneys who have experience in dealing with mental disorders. They can provide expert knowledge and tactics for a case involving a sociopath.

If you’re in the Carlsbad area and are considering divorcing a spouse with a personality disorder, schedule a free consultation with John Griffith or one of his outstanding team members at Griffith, Young, and Lass.

© 2017 Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Griffith, Young & Lass are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS
  • Catie E. Young, Esq., CFLS
  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS
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  • John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS John N. Griffith, Esq., CFLS

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    John Griffith has practiced exclusively in the area of family law since 2009. John is a Certified Family Law Specialist certified as an expert in the area of family law by the California Board of Legal Specialization. Prior to opening Griffith, Young & Lass, he worked as the managing partner of one of the largest family law firms in North County San Diego.
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    Catie E. Young excels in child custody cases and move-away trials. She has a unique approach to child custody cases and clients of Griffith, Young & Lass tend to gravitate toward her in these cases. Since joining the firm, she has continuously brought her zeal and compassion to representing clients in child custody and domestic violence cases, and in December 2011, she became a partner at Griffith, Young & Lass.
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  • Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS Amy J. Lass, Esq., CFLS

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    Amy Lass, a certified family law specialist, was born in New York and raised in San Diego, California. Amy graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2003 with a B.S. in Economics with a concentration in Enterprise Accounting. Amy went on to earn her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and graduated cum laude in 2006.
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  • Shirin Asgari, Esq. Shirin Asgari, Esq.

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    Attorney Shirin Asgari has a broad spectrum of legal experience and has handled matters in family law, criminal law, business law, and national security law. Currently, she focuses on family law matters and is a strong advocate for the rights of her clients. She dedicates time and attention to the needs of each client and the unique circumstances their case presents.
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    Eric Cowdery earned his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees before earning his JD from Golden Gate University as part of the Honors Lawyering Program. He was admitted to the California Bar Association in 2013 and has been working diligently in the field ever since. Taking a personalized approach to each case, Eric Cowdery is committed to working with clients to help them through the often confusing and complex legal process of divorce.

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    Jeffrey Wittliff is extremely attentive to his cases and believes in thorough preparation and the value of regular client communication. Behind the scenes, he has an extensive background in research related to all areas of family law, propounding discovery when necessary, and negotiation to settle cases with opposing parties.
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  • Joshua Yee, Esq. Joshua Yee, Esq.

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    Attorney Joshua Yeereceived his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, from the University of California, San Diego. Joshua went on to receive his Juris Doctor degree from University of San Francisco. His experience working with a local Certified Family Law Specialist solidified his desire to become a family law attorney. Since becoming an attorney, Josh has exclusively practiced in family law.
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  • Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq. Shaudi Malekzadeh, Esq.

    Associate

    Shaudi Malekzadeh is a Carlsbad family law attorney at Griffith, Young & Lass, advocating for the rights and interests of Southern California families in a variety of family law cases, such as child custody, alimony, spousal support, and the division of community property. She is committed to delivering effective legal representation to our clients, aggressively advocating for their legal rights, and offering compassionate legal advice.
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