Divorce & Histrionic Personality Disorder In Arizona


If you’re going through a difficult divorce from your spouse, it probably feels like at least one of the parties involved has a personality disorder. One of the main suspects of spouses in strife is narcissistic personality disorder. This condition causes the affected person to have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and engage in attention-seeking behaviors. Many people confuse narcissism with histrionic personality disorder or have never heard of this disorder. Some of its symptoms can be similar to those that a person with narcissistic personality disorder would exhibit. If a spouse going through a divorce has a personality disorder, there are certain factors for which the other party should be prepared. This can be crucial to achieving a positive outcome in a divorce in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona. To schedule your free phone consultation with a member of our Arizona family law team, call 480-470-1504

Family law lawyer working at a desk with legal scales and a gavel in the background.

What Is Histrionic Personality Disorder?

Histrionic personality disorder is a mental health condition that is often confused with, but is separate from, narcissistic personality disorder. Someone can have symptoms of a personality disorder without a diagnosis- it becomes a disorder when the symptoms interfere with the person’s career, interpersonal relationships, etc. An estimated 1.84% of the population has histrionic personality disorder. Some of the symptoms a person with this disorder may display include:

  • Dramatic displays of emotion
  • Perceiving relationships as closer and deeper than they truly are
  • Inappropriate sexual appearance and behavior
  • A need to be the center of attention
  • Rapid shifts in emotional states
  • Shallow emotions that seem insincere to others
  • Opinions that are easy to manipulate

If you know anything about narcissistic personality disorder, it’s easy to see how these two personality disorders could be confused for one another. Narcissists are known for desiring attention, but are more prone to being the manipulator rather than the manipulated. A spouse preparing for an emotionally strenuous divorce can reap several benefits from consulting with experienced family law lawyers about their circumstances. To get started with your free consultation of our Phoenix and Tucson family law team, call 480-470-1504

Behaviors to Anticipate in a Divorce from Someone with Histrionic Personality Disorder

There is no way to predict with 100% accuracy how a person will behave during a family law matter, regardless of a personality disorder. However, you might be able to anticipate some behaviors and actions if your spouse has been diagnosed with or displays symptoms of histrionic personality disorder. If you need to discuss how your case can be affected by any of the following, call 480-470-1504 to schedule your free consultation with our Arizona family law team. 

“Moving On” Quickly

People with histrionic personality disorder put on sexual displays and attach quickly to new relationships. In a divorce context, being the first one to enter a new romantic relationship can also feel like a victory over one’s ex-spouse. A divorced spouse has every right to date whomever they want after their marital relationship ends. However, this can cause issues if the spouses have minor children in common. It can be confusing and stressful for young children to transition from a two-parent household to two separate households with a new adult figure in at least one household. If this could be a concern in your situation, it may benefit you and your children to include a clause about new romantic relationships in your parenting plan. Many parents will select a certain threshold the relationship must pass- e.g., exclusive for six months- before that partner can be introduced to the children. This can help keep your children from being influenced by an unknown stranger brought into their lives because of your ex’s personality disorder. 

Drama When the Stage is Set

People with histrionic personality disorder are known for dramatic displays of emotion. Divorce creates endless opportunities to act out these emotions with an audience. This could be during negotiations, mediation, or even trial. It’s best to stay calm if your ex begins acting out in front of a neutral third party. If both parties are out of control during a proceeding, it will only make things more complicated and cause delays. If the judge wants to dole out negative consequences for inappropriate courtroom conduct, you will be glad to not have been a participant. 

Another issue when at least one divorcing spouse loves to create drama is joint custody of minor children. School events, custody exchanges, and other child-related interactions with your ex can have an equally negative impact as courtroom conduct. Unhinged behavior can be stressful for children and set a bad example. If this becomes an ongoing issue, it may help to switch to supervised custody exchanges. Supervised exchanges are similar in theory to supervised visitation. Instead of having a neutral third party observe time spent with the child, the third party will observe when the parents switch physical custody of the child. The third party is meant to discourage one or both parties from acting out and negatively impacting their shared minor children. 

Influence from Outsiders

People with histrionic personality disorder tend to have opinions that can be manipulated by others. For someone with a small social circle, this could have little to no impact on a divorce case. But let’s say one spouse has overly involved parents or siblings who seem to have a personal investment in how the divorce is resolved. Here, the spouses may seem to reach an agreement during negotiations just for the spouse with histrionic personality disorder to have a conversation with someone who convinces them to strive for another outcome. If one or both spouses are prone to this type of behavior, it’s best to get agreements in writing as soon as possible after reaching them. It’s also best to avoid relying on oral agreements and confirm them in email or writing. 

Self-Centeredness During Negotiations

When someone with histrionic personality disorder gets divorced, their need for attention may translate into negotiations for all of the relevant matters in their divorce. For example, a parent who is set to get 50/50  custody of their children may view this as their children being “taken away” without considering that the other parent will also not see their children half of the time. This factor, combined with the flair for dramatics, can make negotiations tense, if not impossible. A mediator may be able to help the spouses reach an agreement without needing to bring the matter before the judge. 

Let a Skilled Family Law Attorney Provide Stability During Trying Times

Difficult personalities are a fact of life, but can also aggravate situations that are already unpleasant, such as divorce or child custody matters. If your ex has retained aggressive legal counsel, it will only increase your obstacles in a family law matter. You deserve qualified representation to simplify the process and help you achieve your goals, regardless of your situation. My AZ Lawyers will filter all communications so you don’t have to sift through the unnecessary drama. Learn more about the strategies you should be utilizing in a divorce in Phoenix or Tucson. Contact us to get started with your free consultation, or call us at 480-470-1504.


Contact Professional Family Attorneys In Arizona

Arizona Offices:

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Office: (480) 448-9800
Email: info@myazlawyers.com
Website: https://myazlawyers.com/

Phoenix Location:
343 West Roosevelt, Suite #100
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Office: (602) 609-7000

Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (602) 509-0955

Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701

Office: (520) 441-1450

Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 469-6603

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