These Divorce Horror Stories Prove Human Pettiness Knows No Bounds
Animosity breeds spite and the spite that divorces foster can be almost unbelievable. Whether you’re the one getting divorced or the lawyer who has to deal with crazy clients, every divorce has some crazy drama to reveal. The following stories are some of the wildest, most outlandish, and sometimes most infuriating divorce mishaps, and they reveal just how petty humans can be as they try to legally thwart their partner.
#1 Can’t Catch Me
I knew a guy going through a divorce whose wife had cheated on him. During the proceedings, he liquidated his 401k and sold the house which was in his name. It was more than a million dollars. He’s a dual US and Romanian citizen and just left for Romania a few days before their divorce was final with the money. All she got was her BMW lease.
#2 That’s Not Supposed to be There
My co-worker had a client in a messy divorce where the parties were required to split up some antique pots. When the husband delivered the wife’s share of the pots to our office, he had defecated in each one of them. It was a whole big incident.
#3 Don’t Involve the Children
I had a client whose wife wanted him out of the house. I told him not to leave and just move to a different bedroom for the time being, because 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 saying that she wanted him out—and making a disturbing threat. She said if he wasn’t out soon, she would start taking out her unhappiness on the children and remind them that mommy was being mean to them because daddy wouldn’t leave.
#4 Taxing Marriage
When my father-in-law and mother-in-law got divorced, she wanted to file jointly for the previous year because they were still married. They would have gotten a decent refund. He insisted on filing separately despite the fact that he would owe $4,000 because he wanted her to also owe the IRS. He did it to “frost her.”
#5 The Purpose of Matrimony
When I was a divorce lawyer, I represented the wife of a minor celebrity and said celebrity would file for divorce regularly when she “acted up.” Once he determined she was behaving as he liked, he’d cancel the divorce. Rotten guy.
#6 The Prodigal Husband
I used to be a secretary for a family law solicitor and there was one divorce case where the wife was a teacher of over 30 years and had a very nice pension. In the divorce settlement, it was decided somehow that the pension would be considered as a marital asset and the husband was entitled to 40%. He wanted the money right away.
So, she had to cash in her pension at a reduced amount. The husband ended up getting around £20,000. But don’t worry, he got what was coming to him. He was an alcoholic, wasted the money, and drank himself to the grave within two years of receiving the money.
#7 Down to Ashes
He kept all of her family photos and memory boxes that included pictures of their kids, their kids’ first blankets, all the family photos from her side of the family back generations, and other stuff like that in exchange for not fighting her over the extra equity in her car. She didn’t have the money to buy him out and she was beaten down mentally from the process and just gave up. Then he torched them. Spite can get pretty evil.
#8 Ice Queen
The 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. The house was ruined. The water froze and cracked the foundation.
#9 Crazy Cancer Conspiracy
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. Anyway, 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 fiancée 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 cancer diagnosis against my client in court. She developed this crazy theory that my client had killed his first wife by giving her cancer and that he was doing the same thing to his “fiancée.”
The second wife’s attorney refused to be a part of 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 cancer 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 and embarrassment, the judge’s look of confusion, and my look of awe-inspired disgust.
#10 Not Even a Stitch
When my friend was going through a divorce with her insane husband, he had texted her pictures of the gun he bought to threaten her. Even though the police were called, there was nothing they could do because it was “only a picture.” He was staying with a secret girlfriend at this point and my friend let him to go get his stuff from the house. She was scared to go back in the house alone so I went with her.
The first red flag was that he had changed the locks. So, we waited for locksmith to open the house and change the locks again. Well, when the door opens, we noticed all of the furniture was gone. We make our way upstairs in search of her cats. The entire second floor was empty. There were no cats, no furniture, and even her clothes were gone.
We came to find out that he hired a moving company to pack and take everything away—even the food in the fridge. 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 would not 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 home.
#11 Pet Bio-Weapon
When the wife started dating someone new with a severe cat allergy like a year after they split up, her jerk of an ex bought a cat on his time with the kids even though he’s not allowed pets at his apartment. He sends the kids back to their mom’s house with the cat and all of its stuff. Mom is upset because she didn’t want a cat at all plus her boyfriend is crazy allergic.
She calls us asking what to do because her kids are bawling saying that she can’t get rid of their new “sibling” and she has the cat in the garage. The ex-husband told kids, “If mommy loves you, she’ll let you keep the cat since daddy is not allowed cats at his house.”
#12 Shattering Exit
During my first year of law school, lawyers from different practices came to give us a peek behind the curtain of different areas. One divorce lawyer told the story of a rather well-to-do couple that spent months and months and many tens of thousands of dollars fighting over absolutely everything 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 the ashtray. She promptly strode outside to the white courthouse steps…and smashed the ceramic ashtray. She left the pieces all over for the husband to see on his way out. Decided that day I would not be a divorce lawyer.
#13 As Long as It Takes
My friend’s dad Alan is a lawyer and does mostly divorces and custody cases. He had a couple come that had already figured out division of property, custody, support, etc. Alan figures it’ll be a quick afternoon and he’ll be home in time for dinner. He’s reviewing everything with them and gets 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, for which Alan was being paid hundreds of dollars. After an hour, Alan suggested that they split, take a break, collect themselves, and start discussions anew on another day or maybe talk about it on their own and come see Alan when they figured it out. 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, they refused to come to an agreement. By this time, it was almost 8 PM 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.
Not sure why it took six hours and a couple of thousand dollars to do it, but they did. Guess everyone has a hill to die on.
#14 Not All Funds
I work as a paralegal for a divorce lawyer and one of our clients told us he didn’t clear out the marital account after the parties filed. While technically true, it’s because he removed $45,000 and left about $3.50 in there.
#15 Nothing Koi About It
A soon-to-be ex-husband left his wife’s prized koi to die on the doorstep of their house. Apparently, the value of these six fish was over $100,000. She was, according to her lawyer, so distraught that she couldn’t be in court—only in LA.
#16 Just Enough Bandwidth
A former co-worker and his wife had split up. Among other things, she took all of his belts from the house. He showed up for work with an ethernet cable tied around his waist because he didn’t have any belts. We worked an early shift so there weren’t any stores open before he had to get to work.
#17 Can’t Wipe Your Cheat Codes Away
I worked at a computer repair store as a sales technician. A guy came in with a desktop and he wanted Windows reinstalled. I asked if he wanted me to back up all of his data first and he told me that he had everything he wanted and to just do the wipe. I put it in the queue and he paid then left. I started it about an hour later since an XP install was only about 45 minutes off the network.
I didn’t bother doing anything else except deleting the original partition and making a new one and installing Windows. About an hour after that, his wife came running in asking if we had a computer with “Smith” as the last name. I told her I did and she showed me her ID and said that her husband brought it in to try and destroy all the proof of him cheating and stealing money from their business.
When she asked if I had wiped everything yet, I told her I just did a Windows install and didn’t actually really wipe anything. I called her husband and told him the situation. I told him his wife was here to get the computer. He asked me if I reinstalled Windows like we spoke about and I told him I had. He told me, “I don’t care. Give her the computer. There isn’t anything left on it anyway.”
I said alright and hung up. I told her that he said I could give it to her and then explained to her how reinstalling Windows doesn’t magically delete everything and explained to her how I could recover all of her files in a couple of hours. I ended up staying late that night and she bought me pizza and soda.
I ended up recovering every file he tried to have me destroy and made multiple copies for her. She ended up calling him from the store and reading off some of the messages he had tried to delete from his emails. I was worried that he might try to come back in and confront me, but nothing else ever came of it.
#18 Back to the Health Board
When I got divorced, my alcoholic wife of 18 years had started another affair. This time it was with her addiction counselor…so my lawyer and I laid a devious trap for them. Just in case you don’t know, intimate relations between a counselor and patient are very frowned upon by the regulatory bodies. And I was more than angry after putting her through rehab, which cost $25,000, which I didn’t have to do, only to have her fall back into her old behavior.
Shortly before the divorce was finalized, I filed a complaint with the state body licensing health professions. Knowing they were in some peril because of their unprofessional relationship since I had already gotten him fired, she had backed off her exorbitant demands. I paid her a very modest settlement, kept the house, got custody of the three tweenage kids, plus got child support.
Her lawyer naturally included a clause in the divorce where I had to agree to not say anything negative about her lover and their relationship. But the lawyer messed up and never asked if I had already filed charges and thus didn’t require me to rescind them. The lawyer had assumed I was just bad mouthing them to neighbors and friends and it never occurred to him that we were doing much more.
When the Board of Health Professions responded to my complaint shortly after the divorce was finalized, I told them that it would take a subpoena to get me to testify. They were all too happy to oblige. Then they stripped his license and placed him on a register of sanctioned health professionals. He never worked again.
They were broke within a handful of years and she divorced him when the money ran out, but in the interim his mother had died, leaving fair sized estate, so it took longer than I expected. The frosting on the cake was that his wife and I traded notes, notably hotel receipts from the time of their affair, that helped each of us in our respective divorces. Justice was served.
#19 Owing the Wind
In the divorce, she got off the grid, was living in a truck somewhere, and just couldn’t handle it mentally. He gave her five of his nine companies that owed seven figures in payroll taxes. He had made her the bookkeeper on paper. She spent decades trying to shake the IRS from the results.
#20 Stuck Together Forever
This couple was breaking up and Mister left the house. Missus went to work the next morning as usual. When she returned home in the evening, she found Mister 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 and say, “my OVEN MITTS were glued to the wall,” or “he glued ALL of the sheets together in the linen closet!” I’ve seen people do and say really awful things to each other but that was diabolical.
#21 Relationship Breakdown
I have a friend who went through a nasty divorce and his ex was vengeful despite that he had done nothing “wrong” like cheating, lying, etc. He got laid off from a good job and the loss of status embarrassed her, especially as he took to being a stay-at-home dad and their kids adored him—never mind that she had MBA and six-figure job herself.
She would rack up credit cards to show high expenses and then return it for cash or store credit so that the refund didn’t go back on the card. That way she could try to get more support. Since he needed any work he could get, he took a job at Home Depot. Later on, he landed an IT consulting position that was part time but paid about what he made at Home Depot working full time.
She petitioned the courts to try and force him to have a full-time job, basically wanting to force him to spend 30 more hours to earn same. The worst was that part of his custody granted him dinner one night a week with the kids around 5-7 PM. He asked for it to be school pick-up to 7 PM instead, and she refused. Even though from 3-5, they were at home with a nanny who had to be paid for that time while mom was at work.
#22 Detestable Diminishment
One of my father’s friends tried to salt the earth before getting divorced. A rental house and a cabin were deeded to relatives, the cars they drove every day were sold to other relatives for tiny sums, stocks handed over to a trust “for the children,” etc… He even vanished a chunk of cash from the company he co-owned with his wife using phony invoices and stopped paying himself a salary, electing to burn through their personal savings for over a year instead.
He then learned that judges really, really hate when you try to hide or intentionally diminish assets and they will absolutely refer you to prosecutors for fraud. I don’t think he did any jail time in the end, but his ex-wife got EVERYTHING plus the satisfaction of firing him from his own company.
#23 He Has Got to Go
My parents got divorced about a year ago. My mum 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.
#24 Out of Sight
I’m a lawyer but have had a very limited amount of experience in divorce cases. The first case I ever worked the husband shaved and waxed every single hair off his body in an attempt to avoid a court-mandated drug test.
#25 Shouldn’t Have Said That
A friend of mine is a divorce lawyer and his favorite case was the time the husband in a bitter divorce got some slimy lawyer and said he would out-lawyer her and break the bank before giving her anything she wanted. This was in front of my friend, her lawyer. He looks at her and says, “I’m working for you pro bono from this moment forward.” He looks back at them and says, “I got all day.”
#26 I Want My Mother Outback
My mom was an evil mastermind with this divorce, let me tell you. My parents had been separated but living in the same house for a while and it was around the time of year when our family would normally go for a camping trip. She convinced my dad that we would break the trip up and he would get a week, then when he returned, she would get a week with us, the three kids.
Secretly, during my dad’s week, she got her friends to help her clear the entire house out, and I literally mean clear it out. There was nothing left, not a single clothes hanger, no couches, TVs –quite literally nothing. She chose this vacation setup really well too. Camping meant we didn’t need money or have access to cell service, of which she took advantage as well and emptied the bank accounts and hid all the money away.
She didn’t stop there though. She also maxed out lines of credit and all credit cards. Normally, this would take a while, but she was quite smart in this approach. Earlier when planning this divorce, she had convinced my dad to quit his job, which was quite high paying I should add, to start a company. This company was still new and needed a ton of expenses paid so the banks didn’t think twice about this ridiculous amount of money being transferred as it wasn’t out of the norm anyways from their new set up with the company.
Then, when it came time for my dad’s trip to end, she told him he needed to call her when he got back in cell range. Upon calling, she told him that she was on the way out in the same direction anyways so we could just meet halfway to spare us kids a bit of driving time on our way to the next trip. This was odd considering after a week of camping, we all wanted to shower and clean up but she was very adamant.
We met up and swapped vehicles. Then my dad was on the way home alone, while we were off to hide away at a location different than where she had told my dad. When he got home, he thought we had been robbed. It didn’t sink in. He called the cops and started phoning family because of how empty the house was. He broke down and didn’t know what to do.
That’s when my mom’s dad came over and told him the brutal truth. He said she left him and took everything. She hid us and I believe tried to steal us but that part is a bit fuzzy for me. Eventually, it somewhat caught up with my mom, the judge was shocked at what she did. She even went as far as trying to convince us kids that my dad was abusive and had us interrogated by a cop wanting us to lie about him.
The whole situation was crazy. She ended up blowing all the money on fancy trips and shopping sprees with her friends, and when the judge ordered her to pay it back, she fled the country. Now she lives in Australia and doesn’t have to pay anything.
#27 Litter-al Collateral
My dad is a divorce attorney. His clients couldn’t decide who would get the Labrador puppies from a new litter they just bred. The pups are worth $1,000 a pop. Well, they also hadn’t been up to date on their payments. So, 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
#28 That Was Easy
I worked at Staples for six months in college and my favorite story from there was the only time I ever sold a chair mat because the cheapest one wasn’t very good and the nice one was around $120. One day a guy walks in who looks homeless. He looks distraught. I give him my normal, “Doing alright today, sir?” He tells me that he needs a chair mat so I walk him back to show him the options.
I told him that no one had ever bought one because the $30 mat is flimsy and the nice mat is over $100. He looks deeply into my eyes and says, “My wife left me today. She cheated on me and she’s going to take everything. Give me the most expensive mat you have. If she wants it, I’ll cut it down the middle so she can have her half.”
I didn’t really know what to say, but I came back with, “Well, we do sell protection plans for $9.99…if anything happens to it…” He interrupted me and said, “Whatever, add it on there. Every dollar spent is one she can’t have.” I hope he’s alright. I probably caught him on the worst day of his life. I got props from the bosses for not only selling a chai mat but also for the protection plan.
#29 Charging Away
My good friend found out her husband wanted a divorce when she was contacted by the bank. He had attempted to take her name off all accounts, vehicle ownership, mortgage, and everything without her knowing. Of course, it didn’t work and she snapped. It was just after this that we had a girl’s weekend planned. She put all of it on her credit card.
She paid for meals, hotel, skeet shooting, hitting the town and drinks, everything. It was her way to show how she felt about him. It was a really bad divorce too. He assaulted her, verbally abused the kids, switched to a low paying job to reduce her amount of any child support, etc. His family is loaded and he immediately hooked up with a new woman who also has money so his lifestyle maintained just fine. She came out the other side fine but it was a rough couple of years.
#30 No Looking Back
I did an internship with a family law judge in law school and sat in on this one case where the ex-husband wanted to lower his spousal support payments due to his lowered income, great financial responsibilities, and the fact that his ex-wife was declining to seek paid employment, all of which sounds reasonable on the surface.
It turned out that while his income had been lowered due to “cuts,” his new wife, who technically worked as his “assistant” and had done so prior to the divorce, was now making quadruple her salary—more than he ever had. He claimed that his ex-wife had “unpaid renters” living with her and could have money to survive if she charged them rent, but the “renters” were the couple’s shared 18-year-old twins who were living at home having just graduating high school and were going to keep living at home while starting college in the fall.
He later had allowed his step-daughter and her two children to live with him and his wife rent free and paid for her college. His ex-wife produced evidence that he told his own kids to figure out paying for college themselves. He claimed that his ex-wife worked as a nanny for free by choice and should be getting paid for work elsewhere.
The kids she watched for free were their three joint grandchildren from their eldest child, two of whom were severely disabled. He claimed that when he married his new wife, he gained over fifteen new dependants, which was technically true, but those dependants were all in Mexico and included his new wife’s grown siblings and their families, none of whom he had ever met. This dude was shocked when spousal support wasn’t decreased.
#31 Big Hero Zero
I once mediated the case of a hrroible guy vs a green card mom. It must have started out as the perfect dream for someone who would usually have a hard time getting to where he was. He landed a hot Asian wife, brought her to this country, but once that green card came through, things changed. They had a daughter together and the case was mostly about her.
The mom had zero respect for this guy and try as I might to maintain my empathy, I’ve never felt a greater urge to stuff another human into a locker. Two of his demands really stand out. He asked for the following injunction, “-wife- shall be enjoined from discussing husband’s weight in a derogatory manner, specifically, she may not refer to him as fatty, tubby, pudgy, or Baymax.”
Normally I wouldn’t take an offer like that to the other side. I’d normally help a guy come up with something more sensible, but everyone, including his lawyer, just could not take this guy seriously, so I wrote that out verbatim and trotted over to the mom’s room. Of course, she thought it was hilarious. She had a super thick accent and said, “My daughter call him Baymax because he look like Baymax. I can’t fix that. He have to fix that.”
Then at the end of the day when everything is pretty much settled, the very last thing that they have to do is start dividing the things in the house. Of course, the dad has a meltdown at this point over a Nintendo Switch for the daughter. The mom made the very sensible proposal that the daughter take the Switch with her to each parent’s house as she goes back and forth. He freaks out and demands the Switch stay with him at all times because “there’s no way the mom can take proper care of it.”
Mind you, the attorneys are billing enough to pay for three Switches an hour at this point. I don’t know what happened to the guy but I do know calling him Baymax could land one lady in contempt of court after the most hilarious enforcement trial of all time, and he owns what’s probably the most expensive Nintendo Switch in the world.
#32 Laundered and Put Away
My partner has a friend who was going through a messy divorce. He registered as a “gambling addict” and went to some gamblers anonymous and proceeded to go to the casino every day, taking wads of cash with him, pretending to gamble it all away, while he was secretly squirreling 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.
#33 Malicious Altruism
There was a case where the wife was trying to take half of a guy’s business and millions in personal assets only to find out that the business had been moved into his son’s name years earlier and the guy donated all their savings, millions of dollars, to a children’s hospital in his soon to be ex-wife’s name so she couldn’t get the money.
The judge said what he did was technically legal since it was community property and no freeze had been placed on it yet, but was morally unconscionable. The lawyer said he never saw a bigger smile on a man’s face in his entire life. He just kept saying, “I just wanted to help the children” and smiling.
#34 Using Tongue
I am an interpreter who works frequently with police and lawyers. The most out there thing I ever interpreted in court was when the attorney was questioning their client and asked, “Ms. So-and-So, we’ve known each other for a long time, correct?” After she answered yes, the next question he asked was, “and at the end of each and every meeting we had during the past five years, we always agreed on one thing, correct?”
She agreed. Then he tells her to tell the judge what they agreed on. She says to the judge, “it’s not okay to break in my ex’s apartment and lick all his cutlery.” Then her attorney says, “yet, here we are, Ms. So-and-So.” Imagine me having to keep a straight face the rest of the time in court.
#35 Swing and a Miss
A wife filed for a restraining order because she wanted the house in the divorce. The husband has a good job making around $200,000 per year. His employer found out about the restraining order and the husband is fired. He was a very specialized employee so the only job he can find close to the house, ex-wife, and daughter only pays $50,000.
The house went into foreclosure. The child support was set at less than $500 per month so the wife had to get a job as a waitress, and to top it all off, four of their cars get repossessed.
#36 The Last Rose
A husband and a wife were having a very acrimonious separation. If I remember correctly, he was very successful and she was going after him for an immense amount of money. She happened to be a multi-prize-winning gardener. We’re talking about an absolutely exceptional collection of rare and gorgeous flowers, shrubs, the works. After an unsatisfactory development in their divorce proceedings, she came home to find that her husband had ridden their lawn mower over her entire garden, shredding every last stem and leaf into bits.
#37 Sobering Judgment
There was a case that involved a young couple who had a child together. The woman wanted a divorce from the young man because he enjoyed the “thug life.” He had recently been busted and charged for possession with the intention to distribute drugs, which was a felony, and in possession of a firearm, meaning it was an unlawful carry.
The guy didn’t want her to leave him so he hired a local big-name top divorce attorney—granted, they were from a very rural area. He got a temporary divorce order entered that said she couldn’t have overnight guests of the opposite sex, which is something common in rural conservative areas, but I think it’s mostly a thing of the past in more urban places.
When the young woman started seeing someone new, the young man gets very upset and on top of all the other attorney fees, has his fancy lawyer ask for a hearing to accuse her of violating a court order and to seek full custody of their children. The young woman, on advice from a mutual friend, hired me for this hearing. It turned out to be a case that I’ll never, ever forget.
I sat down with opposing counsel and she basically tried to strong arm me with her experience and laid out egregious terms that include the mother must not only give up primary custody, but must have visitation with a supervisor as well as pay child support and attorney fees. She knew I was a new baby attorney in town because I’m fairly certain I had been licensed for less than a year. I balked and she said that she’ll see us in court.
I went into the hearing with a copy of his probation arrangement on his possession with intent to sell and unlawful carry. He hadn’t told his attorney about this so she was unaware. She called him up and established how my client had her new boyfriend over on x,y,z nights. The VERY conservative judge was not pleased.
Then, opposing counsel passed the witness. I ask him if he had a job. He didn’t. I asked him, “What do you do for money?” He’s vague and said, “Things here and there.” I acted surprise and said, “Oh? Ms. opposing counsel is awfully expensive…do you sell drugs?” He just looked at me and played dumb,”…what?” I repeated my question, “Have you ever sold drugs to make ends meet? He pauses with an, “…uhhh no.”
That’s when I introduced a copy of his guilty plea and straight probation sentencing. The judge was now staring daggers into him—and I was just getting started. I leaned over to my client who was sitting next to me and whispered, “If you took a drug test today, be honest, would you be completely clean?” She told me she would be. So, I asked the young about when he last did drugs. His attorney tried to object, but the judge overruled him.
I knew that this judge will drug test people on the spot as he was also the misdemeanor drug court judge. The young man tells me, “It’s been years, I’m clean,” so I followed with, “If you were tested, you’d be clean?” He says he would be. The opposing counsel asks the same of my client and we agree. Judge has them both tested.
He tested positive for drugs. My client was clean. The judge denied his motion and asked me to send in new temporary orders that required the young man to maintain employment and start paying child support and placed him on supervised visits. The icing on the cake? The opposing counsel actually called me and left me a voicemail congratulating me on, and I quote, “Handing her butt to her for the first time in a long time.”
#38 Calm Down, John Proctor
I’m in court for one of my first times after passing the bar exam and handling a routine child support case. The events that transpired did not involve my client from that day. First, I have to explain that in Massachusetts, when one party is unrepresented in Family Court there is a pre-trial meeting with the probation officers so they can assist the judge in framing the case.
These probation officers are trained social workers who act as mediators in these instances, so they’re nothing like criminal probation officers. So, these two parties are meeting. You can see the guy is just angry over everything but they are making progress working out the divorce. Then all of sudden he stands up and throws his chair over and swears at her, yelling, “You took my house, you took my kids, you even took my dog. I will kill you if you think you are keeping my name too!”
Within seconds, he is restrained by court guards and escorted to a private room. He ended up getting busted for threatening to kill her. It was all because she wanted to keep his last name instead of going back to her maiden name to make it easier on the kids.
#39 Have a Lemon!
My mom showed up to the final meeting for my parent’s divorce and her last request was to “trade cars.” My dad had a car about a year newer that she had never driven and my dad drove the other car 30 miles for work while she drove three. It was such an odd request, especially since he had given up on most of it.
Her lawyer acted off during the conversation and my dad’s lawyer said definitely not. A few days later, my dad gets home to a message from his lawyer that said he found out that mom’s car had died. It needed a new transmission and she failed to mention that when she offered up the trade.
#40 Mother Knows Best
My sister-in-law is in the middle of divorcing my brother after 30+ years of marriage. She’s met someone else. So far, so normal—it happens, right? But the thing that’s destroyed him is her emptying their son’s savings account, which my parents, who are very far from well-off, have paid into once a month for years.
That’s his entire university fund wiped out. I don’t know about getting back at your spouse but it’s the one betrayal my brother can’t come to terms with.
#41 Caught Off-Guard
I used to work for a security company. I had a customer call in and request to have her current deactivation code set as her panic code. A panic code gives the appearance of deactivating the system, but sends a super high priority alarm signal to the monitoring company. This feature exists in case someone puts a gun to your head and demands that you disarm your system.
So, if the husband did come by while she was away, which would be violating a court order by my understanding, the cops were going show up REALLY fast.
#42 Milk for the Children
I work in the court system and there was one case involving a couple divorcing on mutual terms. The husband had one child with her and the wife had a child from a previous marriage. He agreed to pay child support for both children because I guess he really cared about this other child enough to support her even though it wasn’t his obligation.
The judge signed the order, but when they went to set up the child support account, it kicked back with a message that basically said you can’t have two accounts for one child. Apparently, she had been 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.
#43 Big Bluff Up
My dad went through some financial troubles. One day he decided he could have more money if he chose not to pay mortgages, property taxes, car notes etc. Eventually, he was busted for tax evasion and my mom found out and immediately filed for divorce. My mom was a shopaholic and took “no” about as well as a toddler being told they can’t have ice cream. She insisted my dad didn’t make enough money and kept maxing out her AMEX weekly. Thus, my dad came up with an utterly brutal solution.
During the divorce, she said she wanted the nice cars. My dad basically said great, take them. Then she told my dad she wanted the house. My dad begged and pleaded with her not to take the house. He point-blank told her that the house was days away from foreclosure. He told her that she couldn’t afford to take that hit on her credit, but she really wanted to stick it to him so she thought he was bluffing. After a week of mediation, he finally gave in and said, “Fine, take the house.”
The house and the mortgage were transferred into her name and the house was foreclosed on and a lien was placed on the house. Through some shady deal, she short sold the house without informing the new owner of the lien, failed to claim it on her taxes, and spent the money. When the new owner finds out, she’s going to be in a lot of trouble and then there’s a chance the IRS can come to collect capital gains. This is all because she wanted to mess with my dad.
#44 Jewels are a Girl’s Best Scam
My friend and his ex-wife settled their divorce with her getting the house, a hefty chunk of retirement, all the gifted jewelry, and the Harley she had gifted him for his birthday. A few weeks later, a “robbery” occurred—but the only thing that was stolen was the jewelry that he had gifted her, which was intended for their daughter.
She tried to file an insurance claim on the jewelry but forgot to get appraisals so the maximum insurance paid was $1,500 for over $20,000 of jewelry. Suspicion is she staged it, but is now stuck with “stolen” jewelry she can’t legally sell, nor wear, nor give to the daughter without tipping the dad off to the scam.
#45 Outpouring of Spite
There was a case where the husband and wife were getting divorced after multiple attempts to reconcile. The husband was an attorney but not in family law. One of the attempted reconciliations included the wife losing some weight and sending the husband some naughty pictures. Once divorce litigation started, the husband sent these pictures to his wife’s minister father, asking if he knew the kind of person he’d raised.
During litigation, the husband also drove around at night, with their two small children in the car I might ad, to find the wife’s car at a friend’s house. He then proceeded to pour airplane acid all over her hood.
#46 Will Against Time
This was more of an estate issue, but there was a case with a deceased man who was married to a woman for nine years. These are what I call “late in life marriages,” where a woman with nothing marries a retired man with a house, retirement income, and time to vacation. The man brought a fully paid for house into the marriage.
He took out a mortgage to presumably afford vacations and new wife expenses. The bank required both names on the mortgage so he deeded it to them as joint tenants. Two years later, she left him for another man and was never heard from again. A couple months ago, he found out he’s going to die. He immediately filed for a divorce, which was never finalized, created a deed to his children, which wasn’t valid because it needed her signature, and a will which described in detail how terrible she was and disinheriting here completely, which all didn’t matter because the state allows a wife to void the will and take half of marital property.
He died before anything could be done. She now owns the only remaining assets of the house and a marital car. Even though the son moved into the house and took care of his dying father for two years, his heirs will receive nothing. She will receive a hefty house and a $20,000 car.
#47 False Overconfidence
There was a guy who was making $150,000 a year, got a Thai mail order bride, and had three kids. He has an affair and decided that he didn’t want an immigrant wife and mixed-race kids so he initiated divorce proceedings. The woman’s only priority was to have custody of the kids, so against her attorney’s advice, she was willing to take a deal where she would get a car and $1,200 in child support without spousal support, and a $3,000 lump sum from their joint account so she could rent an apartment.
There’s ZERO chance that he actually wanted custody of the children because he’s already shacked up with the girl that he’s having an affair with. She wanted full custody so badly that she was willing to live with hree kids in a modest two-bedroom apartment and pull the kids out of expensive extracurricular activities they were doing to economize, as well as getting a survival type of job after being nothing but a housewife since coming to the US. Not to mention that one of the kids had some talent in an Olympics event to the level where she was getting professional coaching lessons.
The husband ended up going in front of the judge against the advice of his own attorney who told him that he’s nuts to turn the deal down. But because he didn’t want to give her $3,000 and figured that the judge will decide between what she wants and what he wants all without realizing that there’s a formula based on income that judges use to determine child support payments.
At court, the judge awarded the wife the $3,000 lump sum and $1,700 of child support…for each kid. So, because he didn’t want to give his ex-wife $3,000 for his kids to have a place to live, about 50% of his take-home pay was going to his ex for the next 10 years and more. The attorney I worked with was all about money and never did anything for free but this was the one case where he represented the woman for just a nominal fee.
#48 Left Everything Behind
A client and her ex-husband owned a successful renovation company. Marital issues happen and they decide to get a divorce. After looking at the money in the banks, the value of the company based on its past, the value of their house, and everything else, they made an agreement where she would get the company and house, while he would walk away with the ready cash.
He then takes off for a sunny place to start his life again, but soon after, the wife finds out that the husband had been planning to leave her for a while. He stopped paying the vendors and the payroll taxes, which is where the money in the bank accounts originally came from. Their company had been existing on credit for over 6 months while he emptied the bank accounts.
Employee’s paychecks started bouncing within weeks of him leaving so they quit. Jobs weren’t getting finished so customers were demanding refunds. Within 12 months, she’s looking for someone to buy the home in a short sale just to get enough cash to close out the payroll accounts before she could declare bankruptcy.
#49 Building Attention to Detail Skills
This wasn’t my case but I followed it closely because it was an acquaintance’s divorce proceedings. He and his now ex-wife shared some commercial property that was worth a lot of money. They were both on the paperwork and had access to the same information. Well, something hit the fan and the property was in arrears and I think some lien was filed. The husband would try to talk to his then-wife about the whole thing and she would blow him off.
Not only would she ignore him and the finances, she started cheating on him. Throughout the actual divorce, it’s contentious and they get down to fighting for the primary residence, for which market value was much less than the commercial building. She demanded the house and the husband effectively offered to give her the commercial building if he could keep the residence.
She never paid attention to how bad the commercial building was and for some strange reason, her lawyer didn’t do any due diligence so they took the deal. I don’t know if the asset allocation included any saving conditions or caveats for the ex-wife, but I did like to see that her own disinterest may have led to bargaining for an underwater property instead of a paid off house.
#50 All in the Family
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 to the tune of about $2,500 a month for the rest of her life. My dad has a good job as a municipal employee, but that was probably about 70% of his paycheck.
Eventually, the dark truth came out. It 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 looks like. She was going kick back more money under the table after the dust had settled. Dad just 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 still to this day can’t understand why we don’t talk to her much.
#51 Devious Affairs
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 bad. The lawyer had a family of his own and they have no idea my mom and my family exist.