The sad fact is that divorces often get ugly. Spouses do whatever they can to ensure they get the house, kids, pets, and whatever else they touched. As amicable as we’d like an already traumatic experience to be, some people can’t wait to hurt someone they once loved.
#1 Leave a Voicemail
I once had a client whose wife wanted him out of the house. I told him not to leave, just move to a different bedroom for the time being. Once he was out, the chances of him ever getting back in were slim. He texted his wife and told her he was staying in the house. She called back and left a voicemail that she wanted him out. She said if he wasn't out soon, she would take out her unhappiness on the children and remind them that mommy was being mean to them because daddy wouldn't leave.
#2 That Was Diabolical
This couple was breaking up and mister left the house. The missus went to work the next morning as usual. When she returned home in the evening, she found he had been to the house and removed his clothing and belongings as she expected. What she didn't expect was that he had also Gorilla glued her belongings together.
He glued the TV remote to the table, the phone to its cradle, the couch pillows to the couch and even glued the vacuum cleaner to the carpet. She called the police and reported this as property damage. The police went with her through the house documenting dozens of items glued to various things but for days she was discovering random things and she would call to amend or update her report. "My oven mitts were glued to the wall" or "He glued the sheets together in the linen closet!" I've seen people do and say really awful things to each other, but that was diabolical.
#3 Family Friend
We had a family “friend” who was a lawyer and my parents agreed that he would be the lawyer for both of them as a mediator. So, as the assets were being divided, my dad got absolutely slammed. She was going to get the house, cars, half his retirement, and an insane amount of alimony. It was to the tune of $2,500 a month for the rest of her life. My dad has a good job as a municipal employee, but that was probably 70 percent of his paycheck.
Turns out that my mom and the “family friend” actually conspired to rip my dad off and make it seem like that’s what a divorce settlement looked like. She was going to kick back more money under the table after the dust had settled. My dad didn’t know how these things worked. So, after some convincing he finally went out and got his own lawyer. He got a very fair divorce settlement after that. Mom, to this day, can’t understand why we don’t talk to her much.
#4 Nutjob Parents
This was told to me by my mom regarding her divorce from my dad. They couldn’t settle on an alimony amount. Mom and her lawyer came in with a number, dad countered with a number. They couldn’t agree because my dad thought my mom should get twice the amount in alimony she was asking for and my mom didn’t want my dad to give her that much money every month. It took months for them to settle on a figure that appeased both of them.
Even then, my mom puts aside the extra in case my dad ever has a financial emergency and my dad puts aside the extra she didn’t want in case my mom ever has a financial emergency. The funny thing is, they don’t know the other is putting the money aside for the other. My mom told me about her emergency stash and my dad told my brother about his emergency stash. My brother and I discussed it while talking about what nutjobs our parents are.
#5 Like It Was Yesterday
I worked at an airport. This big burly guy brought an ugly dog in a crate to the counter and was clearly misty-eyed. Turns out, the wife got the dog in the divorce and he had to send it to her. She told him as soon as she got it, she was putting it down. He then asked if he could have some time with the dog before the flight.
So, they went in the grass and both rolled around in the grass. The dog’s tail was just wagging away, not knowing anything about his future. The guy put him back in the crate, dropped him off at the counter, said thanks, and walked out. His head was down and he just looking crushed. That was 30 years ago and I still remember it like it was yesterday.
#6 Cracked Foundation
Divorce lawyer here. Spouse had been out of the house for weeks. She waited until he was on a business trip, came into the house, turned on all of the faucets, plugged the drains, turned off the furnace, and left. It was -10 degrees. He came back five days later and the house was ruined. The water froze and cracked the foundation.
#7 Flying Accusations
Accusing their former spouse of forcing them into being an adult worker. Text messages revealed they were actually just swingers. She also admitted to lying in order to "make him burn." I can't wait to leave my practice area. This is not the evilest thing I have seen so far in practice, it's just one of the things that stick out in recent memory.
#8 Joke’s On Her
My uncle's ex tried to work it in that she would get half of whatever my grandmother would leave him when she passes. Joke's on her, my grandmother is passing over her kids (not maliciously, my uncle is very well off and so is my mom) and leaving everything to my brother and me. Oh, she also tried to get sole custody of both of their children… who are in their 20s.
#9 I Guess It’s Over
I’m a paralegal for a divorce lawyer. This one is morbid. We represented a guy who believed vehemently that his wife was hurting the children. The authorities and Child Services was involved. It was never clear what the truth was or if anything at all was going on, but our client was sure. He shot his wife at a custody exchange in front of the children. He then sat down and waited for the authorities. We visited him in jail with his defense attorney. As we were leaving, he told me, "Well, I guess the divorce is over now." Then he laughed. That was the first time I was ever speechless.
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#10 If Mommy Loves You
I was an assistant for a family law practice, not a lawyer. So it was already a disaster of a divorce because the ex-husband was a jerk. But it got so much worse when the wife started dating someone new with a severe cat allergy a year after they split up. Her psycho ex bought a cat on his time with the kids, except he wasn’t allowed pets at his apartment.
He sent the kids back to their mom’s house with the cat and all its stuff. The mom was really angry because she didn’t want a cat at all plus her boyfriend was crazy allergic. She called us, asking what to do because her kids were bawling saying that she couldn’t get rid of their new “sibling” and she had the cat in the garage. The ex told kids, “If mommy loves you, she’ll let you keep the cat since daddy is not allowed cats at his house.”
#11 The Winning Party
My divorce lawyer told me about a case she was involved in where both clients were so petty that they had to all meet and argue over literally every single scrap. The final object that neither would settle on was a ceramic rabbit statue, a really generic one from Home Depot. It had zero sentimental value but since it was the final item, neither side wanted to "lose" the last thing. They dragged it out over three separate meetings. I don't remember which ended up getting it, but once they settled it and signed everything, the "winning" party stuck it on their lawyer's desk as a gift and walked out.
#12 A Huge Issue
My friend's dad "Alan" is a lawyer and does mostly divorces and custody cases. He had a couple come who already figured out the division of property, custody, support, etc. Alan figured it would be a quick afternoon and he’d be home in time for dinner. He was reviewing everything with them and got to the question of which parent should be called first if the child gets hurt or sick at school or camp.
Well, for some reason, this turned into a huge issue. Each parent wanted to be the one who was called first. The couple argued for an hour. Alan suggested that they split, take a break, collect themselves and start discussions on another day or in private. Nope, the couple insisted on ironing it out right then and there.
They fought for six hours while Alan just sat there and listened. They refused his help and refused to come to an agreement. By this time, it was almost 8:00 p.m. and Alan said, "I don't care what you two do, but I'm going home to my wife right now." For some reason, that seemed to make something click for them and they did eventually resolve it. I’m not sure why it took six hours and a couple of thousand dollars to do it, but they did. I guess everyone has a hill to depart on.
#13 Being Caught
She accused her ex-husband of touching their children while under the watchful eye of the nationally endorsed social workers who oversaw his contact with them (which was only required because he didn’t have his own private accommodation at the time). She also said that his Indian flatmates were inherently “dirty.”
After the obviously false child suggestion, I warned her of the consequences of being caught lying about that (i.e. permanent loss of custody). She fired me but kept calling back using fake names to try and obtain free advice, which contradicted my advice. Everyone she called immediately spotted her voice, though.
#14 Worth Nothing
I saw this somewhere once. The husband and wife were getting divorced. There was a classic car that was worth a lot of money. It was also a bone of contention in the divorce. After several months, the husband finally proposed that he’d let her have the car if she gave him the house. She agreed. Come to find out, he had been taking the car out every day and doing loops around the city for hours, putting thousands of miles on it. It was then worth nothing.
#15 Five of Nine
I didn't handle the divorce, but I handled parts of the aftermath. In the divorce, she went AWOL, was living in a truck somewhere, and just couldn't handle it mentally. He gave her five of his nine companies. They were the ones that owed seven figures in payroll taxes. He had made her the bookkeeper on paper. She spent decades trying to shake the IRS for the results.
#16 The Ashtray
During my first year of law school, lawyers from different practices came to give us a peek behind the curtain of different areas. The divorce lawyer told the story of a rather well-to-do couple that spent months and many tens of thousands of dollars fighting over absolutely everything. It went all the way down to a single ceramic ashtray. He couldn’t remember the significance, but somehow it had come through the husband’s family.
Even after everything else had been decided, they spent many more months and nearly $100,000 fighting over just this ashtray. Then, after a court hearing, the wife finally won it. She promptly strode out to the white courthouse steps… and smashed it. She left the pieces all over for the husband to see on his way out. I decided that day I would not be a divorce lawyer.
#17 Child Support
I’m not a divorce lawyer, but my grandma slept with her divorce lawyer before she served her husband the papers, got pregnant, and then convinced her husband it was his. He paid child support for 18 years and never had a clue. It was pretty terrible and the lawyer had a family of his own. They have no idea my mom and family exist.
#18 Anything to Win
Former divorce lawyer. I often say someone accusing a former spouse of touching the children or some kind of domestic toxicity to retain full custody. They then get a restraining order to force the spouse out of the marital home. This sets the "new status quo" for custody (which judges are reluctant to disrupt considerably down the road). It takes months, if not years, for an accused spouse to "prove" his innocence and CPS will often find "evidence" where none exists if the accusing party is a good enough manipulator.
It’s a pretty horrendous long term outcome for all parties. Kids are brainwashed against an estranged parent when young. Later they often grow to resent the accusing parent for harming their relationship with an estranged parent. Kids often grow up with a multitude of mental health issues. It’s probably one of the worst things a person can do to their children… all to "win" against their former spouse.
#19 Splitting the Assets
I'm not a divorce lawyer, but my parents got divorced about a year ago. My mom didn't want my dad to show up in court because he would contest and then they'd have to split the assets. She phoned me and told me to put laxatives in his food so he wouldn't be able to make it there. She kept screaming at me, commanding me to, but I refused. It's one of the reasons that she hates me now.
#20 Going Hairless
I’m a lawyer but have had a very limited amount of experience in divorce cases. I haven’t seen too many insane things during that time, but there’s one that will always stay with me. In the first case I ever worked, the husband shaved every single hair off his body in an attempt to avoid a court-mandated substance test.
#21 Floppy Puppies
My dad is a divorce attorney. His clients couldn't decide who would get the Labrador puppies from a new litter they just breed. The pups were worth $1000 a pop. They also hadn't been up to date on their payments. So, my dad brought a litter of eight floppy puppies home as collateral for us to have until they could negotiate the settlement. It was so much fun for us kids.
#22 Petty Vengeance
The most malicious thing I know of personally involved a co-worker of mine. He was sleeping with a married woman and ultimately the husband found out. A really ugly divorce ensued, during which they fought over a lot of assets. But the real point of contention was their dog, a lovely german shepherd named Orion. Eventually, the husband got custody of the dog, and in under a month, had the dog put down just to hurt her back. Not only am I saddened by how many pets get caught in the crossfire, but I’m genuinely shocked by the lengths some people will go for petty vengeance.
#23 Gambling Addict
Not a lawyer, but my partner has a friend who was going through a messy divorce. He registered as a “gambling addict,” went to some gambling anonymous meeting and proceeded to go to the casino every day. He’d take wads of cash with him, pretending to gamble it all away, while he was secretly squirrelling it all away. That way, when it came to the divorce and he was questioned where all his money went, he could “prove” that he lost it all through his gambling addiction and never had to pay her a penny.
#24 Insurance Claims
About 15 years ago, I handled two insurance claims for a man in his 40s who was getting divorced from his wife, who was in her mid-20s. First, she filed a claim on his auto policy saying that he crashed into her car on purpose. The claim was denied because there was no coverage for intentional acts. A couple of weeks later, she filed a claim on his homeowner's policy, saying that he took her engagement ring. Again, she wasn’t the policyholder, and the ring wasn't taken, he just had possession of it, so there was no claim to be made. I wonder whatever happened with that guy.
#25 Milk Two Fathers
I’m not a lawyer but work in the court system. Once, a case came in where a couple was divorcing on mutual terms. The husband had one child with her and the wife had a child from the previous marriage. He agreed to pay child support for both children. I guess he really cared about this other enough to support her even though it isn’t his obligation.
The judge signed the order, they went to set up the child support account and it got kicked back saying you couldn’t have two accounts for one child. Turns out, she was collecting child support from the biological father the entire time and never told him. She basically tried to milk two fathers for one child… and the other attorney knew about it.
#26 What Does That Say?
I work as a legal assistant for a family lawyer. The ex-husband was getting remarried. His ex-wife sent him and his new fiancé a dozen black roses before their wedding. She then had a plane fly across during their wedding, dragging a sign that read “(name of the ex-husband) likes it up the butt.” You can’t make this stuff up. The sad part is, she wasn’t well and had been in and out of psych wards over the years. I hope she’s getting the help she needs now.
#27 Demand the Dog
My soon-to-be ex-wife is trying to hurt me in ways I never could have imagined. She knows that she'll never get custody or our kiddo after what she did, so she's trying to demand the dog. She specifically said that since she can't have pets in her apartment, she would give her up to the shelter there, which is not a no-kill shelter.
#28 Missing Knobs
I once had a boss who had to leave his house for six hours while his ex-wife grabbed all the belongings she was legally entitled to. When he returned home, every knob and handle was gone. Door knobs, cabinet handles, drawer handles, anything that was screwed onto something and used to open it, she had taken. Every day for the next week he would occasionally yell out, "She took the knobs!"
#29 Dumbest Divorce
I was a legal intern for a divorce attorney a few years back. The absolute dumbest divorce I ever sat through lasted for well over two years because they refused to let each other get any ground. I was only there for the last year of the divorce, but they argued over who got the Christmas ornaments for four months.
#30 The Last Case
A family friend was the lawyer on a pretty cut and dry divorce case. He was representing the husband, and he felt pretty bad for him. There was no bad history between the two. but even standard cases can get messy. Apparently, his wife was being seriously sharky and trying to take basically everything. The guy was at his wit’s end.
Our family friend was driving behind him on the way to court when he crashed his truck into an SUV. It didn't seem too bad. He flipped the SUV on its side, but he was already in it, helping the other driver out. It was right in front of the courthouse, so no big deal. There were lots of cops around to help. Then our family friend realized something concerning.
The SUV looked a lot like the guy's wife's SUV. Before he could say anything, he saw the cops suddenly swarm the guy and pin him to the ground. While everyone watched on thinking this guy was "helping,” he actually was attacking his wife. She, unfortunately, didn't survive. I’m pretty sure that was the last divorce case our family friend took.
#31 Awe-Inspired Disgust
I represented a guy who was on his second marriage. His first wife passed away from cancer, he and his kids were obviously devastated. My client was a pretty sensitive guy with a big heart. His second wife could be very charming, which was why he fell for her. But it was all a facade. To make a long story about a lengthy divorce short, my client met a very kind and affectionate woman during his case. They really hit it off and were basically engaged (even though his divorce was far from over). The fiancee started having health problems and was diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer.
Somehow, the second wife found out about this and tried to use the diagnosis against my client in court. She developed this crazy theory that my client had was responsible for his first wife losing her life by giving her the disease. She also said that he was doing the same thing to his "fiancee." The second wife's attorney, who was quite good, refused to be a party to it.
The attorney never addressed the argument in court and didn't even ask the second wife any questions about it during testimony. Rather, the attorney informed the judge that the second wife wished to address the court directly about an issue. The judge allowed her to do so (in a highly irregular move). The second wife told her crazy conspiracy theory to the judge, adding that she was certain my client had tried to give her the illness at some point as well. I wish I had an artist's rendering of the scene, capturing the second wife's crazy eyes, her attorney's look of shame, the judge's look of confusion, and my look of awe-inspired disgust.
#32 Moving Company
A friend was going through a divorce from an insane husband. He had been texting her pics of the something he bought and threatening her. The police were called, but there was nothing they could do because it was “only a picture.” He was staying with a secret girlfriend at this point. She allowed him to go get his stuff from the house and was scared to go back to the house alone. So, I went with her.
The first red flag was he had changed the locks. We waited for the locksmith to open the house and change the locks again. Well, when the door opened we noticed all of the furniture was gone. So we carefully went upstairs in search of her cats. The entire second floor was empty. No cats. No furniture. Even her clothes were gone.
We came to find out he hired a moving company to pack and take everything, even the food in the fridge. But, we finally found the cats. He had taken them to another vet in town and put them up for boarding under his sister's name, thinking she wouldn’t be able to find them. He was finally forced to disclose what happened to her possessions. He had them taken to a storage unit far away from the house.
#33 Proud of My Parents
I'm really proud of how my parents acted when they got divorced. My dad was a landlord and owned several properties. They both just agreed that he would get those and my mom would get our family home and the stuff in it. Also, my dad moved into a rental in the same town and neither of them argued for sole custody of my sister (who was still a minor at the time).
#34 Unsubstantiated Accusations
I see a lot of unsubstantiated accusations to deteriorate the relationship between a dad and the kids. We’ll hire experts and therapists and there will be an investigation. We’ll have depositions and a trial. After a year has passed without dad being allowed to see his children and thousands of dollars have been spent, it will come out that nothing happened. This happens in my practice about once or twice a year.
#35 You’re All Corrupt
I’m not a divorce lawyer but my mom's ex had his brother break in and take a bunch of stuff. He tried to claim it wasn't breaking the order since it wasn't him who broke in. He even went on a rant about how corrupt the authorities were for arresting him and his brother, it was great. In other news, my mom needs to stop dating dumb dudes.
#36 Destroying the Business
He owed her $500 as part of the settlement. He brought two buckets of unsorted coins (mostly pennies) to our office. The wife also took the light bulbs out of every fixture when she moved out, then refused to give him right of first refusal if she wanted to get rid of their dog. She spent a year and a half systematically destroying their business and then expected him to pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars for her share of the (now worthless) business.
#37 Dangerously Neglectful
I used to work as a file clerk for a divorce attorney. Our client was trying to get full custody of her child because her husband was “dangerously neglectful of their son.” How was he being dangerously neglectful? By serving spaghetti (instead of turkey) for Thanksgiving. I really wish I was making this stuff up.
#38 Real Classy Guy
I was a divorce paralegal for 15 years. The worst opposing party we ever had represented himself. He cheated, left his wife then proceeded to file for custody of the dog. After two hearings just about the dog, the judge ordered that they share the dog, alternating one week at a time. On his first round of visitation, he collected this sweet dog and immediately put it to sleep.
The following week, he gave ex-wife a canister with the dog’s ashes. Obviously, she was devastated. It was heartbreaking and the judge was not happy. He sanctioned this man and then gave literally everything to the wife in the judgment. This guy was such a nutball, he even tried to claim the condiments in the fridge as property. Real classy guy.
#39 Vicious Case
The divorce lawyer my mother-in-law had once had to fight a case so vicious that they wanted everything split right down the middle. And I mean everything, right up to the block of cheese in the fridge. She won that case, too. That said, I can only imagine how long it took to split everything else in the house.
#40 Coming to Light
I had an old neighbor who got a new car. She then went back the next day and told them her husband loved hers so much that he wanted the exact same thing in the exact same financing. She immediately hid that car at her mom's house and filed for divorce. The affair came to light when they pulled the second car over and a strange man was driving it around.
#41 You Take Them
I worked in family law for three years as a paralegal. Once, we had a client request us to represent them and make them look like the more incompetent parent. That way, the kids would stay with the other party per the parenting plan 100% of the time. The client wanted us to prove that they were not fit to watch children under any circumstances. Unfortunately for them, the other party tried to show that they were the incompetent one and our client should have the kids 100% of the time.
#42 More Than Me
When I was in law school, I had a professor who discussed his time as a family attorney. He was handling a bitter divorce where the couple fought over everything. He aids it was so miserable that they each agreed to take one of their three dogs. To ensure the other one got hurt, they put the third dog down to avoid the other spouse having more than them. That was the moment I vowed to never do family law work. It’s super messed up and common.
#43 Something’s Missing
My mom was a private mediator. She had a case where a cheated-on spouse cut the crotch out of every pair of their ex’s pants when returning possessions from the shared home. The divorcing couple was worth enough that this was not a huge deal. Plus, that party’s lawyer immediately accepted financial responsibility for the damages once brought up.
#44 Children’s Socks
I worked as a secretary at one point in a family law office. One client spent a week arguing with his ex over socks for the kid. At one point, the kid was sockless every time they switched to the other parent’s house because they were in a stalemate over buying socks and sending it to the other parents’ household. How you get to a point where you’re paying $300 an hour to argue about buying socks for your kid to wear for an entire week. My heart went out to that kid, as I assume that was the least of their parental worries.
#45 Oprah Rich
My former brother-in-law handled my divorce. She mailed me three different papers, one where I got alimony, one where she got alimony and one where we just walked away with whatever we each wanted. My ex-wife signed all three and gave me the option to choose how I wanted to proceed. We went with no-fault and walked away as friends. A week later, she got Oprah rich off of a medical malpractice case and a case where she successfully sued our previous landlord.
#46 Arranged Marriage
My client (the wife) was Indian, and had an arranged marriage to a much older white guy. They'd been married 20+ years, and then he decided to go behind her back. They had four kids. My client's mother also came over from India and moved in with them. The grandma lived with them for 15+ years, did most of the cooking, a lot of childcare, cleaned, etc. After my client filed for divorce, the husband actively tried to get the grandma deported just to be a jerk. Karma came back around, though. Before the divorce was over, the husband got punched in the head by his new girlfriend's ex-boyfriend, went into a coma and passed away.
#47 Torpedoed Her Case
I ended up having to represent myself against my ex during my divorce. While we had temporary parenting orders in effect, she decided to keep my daughter the entire Christmas holiday and attempted to get out of the contempt charge by making up some lame excuse. Long story short, when it came time to present evidence to the guardian ad litem, we both had recorded conversations of the exchange that day.
They both were obviously recordings of the same conversation, however where mine ended, her recording kept going. You heard her sound apologetic and concerned throughout the call but as soon as she hung up, she started talking all kinds of nonsense about me in front of my daughter. It showed the guardian how she really was when she thought no one was listening. She never even previewed it before she sent it to the guardian and basically torpedoed her own case.
#48 Collecting the Fees
Lawyer here. Divorce lawyers are typically the evil ones in the equation for a multitude of reasons. Controversy breeds legal fees. In my experience, divorce lawyers will stop at nothing to recover their legal fees. I've filed bankruptcy on behalf of numerous consumers forced into bankruptcy by their divorce lawyer.
#49 These Are Mine
I’m not a lawyer, but a buddy of mine found out his wife was sleeping with someone else. The divorce agreement went so far as to divide individual family photos that were on the mantlepiece. His wife was so angry at getting found out that she didn't just take the photos she was entitled to. She took all of the picture frames from his photos and just left the prints laying there with no frames.
#50 Settled Very Quickly
I used to work with a divorce lawyer. We had a client whose ex-wife was trying to get spousal support. He said she always had extra spending money and he didn’t know where she got it from. She was a stay-at-home mom but would always have designer purses, clothes, and even bought herself a new Acura.
So, we hired an investigator to check things out. Turns out, she had her own webcam page and had been doing live cam and adult material for years. He knew nothing about it. The lawyer suggested he go for spousal but the wife was so angry that her page had been found that she gave up. They settled very quickly.