Divorce Lawyers Share Stories from the Nastiest Cases They Ever Handled
While many married couples enjoy fairytale endings and lifelong marriages, some spouses end up trapped in what can feel like a never-ending nightmare. When all efforts to save a marriage fail, divorce may be the only logical step left. In some divorce cases, both spouses may simply be ready to move on with minimal fuss, but that isn’t always the case.
Sometimes, spouses can turn downright nasty to their former lovers. When the worst happens, dissolving a marriage can turn into full-on warfare, and no one is safe from the brutality. From lawyers to other involved parties, these Redditors discuss some of the wildest divorce cases they ever saw.
Show Me the Money
The woman issued more than 70 subpoenas to banks, firms, investment companies — you name it — because she was convinced he had squirreled away $20+ million overseas behind her back. It got so bad that she dug up receipts from 25 years ago to try to put together this grand conspiracy puzzle.
Benefit of the Doubt
I saw a future ex-wife fight vigorously over disability benefits of a not-yet-retired career military guy. She had a new guy to bankroll her, and legal fees were nothing to her, so she dragged out asset division and the divorce proceedings for months over not-yet-accrued disability benefits for her soon-to-be ex-husband.
On the Run
My client fled the home with her baby after an incident. In my state, both parents have full rights to the children unless a custody order is in place. In other words, whoever has the kid, gets the kid. Police will not intervene when one spouse is withholding a child from the other spouse if there are no orders in place.
Get Your Own Bag
I had an epic client who hated his wife's guts. He was asked to pay an interim maintenance of 3,000 rupees per month. This guy goes to the bank and gets 3,000 rupees — all in 1 Rupee coins — and gives it to his wife in court. Technically it's legal. So, the wife had to sit and count all the coins in court, and then he says he wants the bag back. Technically, it's his bag, so this lady is left with 3,000 coins and no way to carry it home. This guy was an evil genius.
If We Could Only Be That Broke
The husband had a fancy job and got stationed abroad, so the wife and two kids moved with him. He made a really high salary with all expenses paid, while the wife was a stay-at-home mom with no income of her own. The marriage failed, they moved back home (Sweden) and the wife sued for alimony, which she was entitled to by law, so she would be able to take care of the kids every other week. She hadn't worked for a number of years and had a hard time getting back into the job market. She had no savings, etc.
Bank Account Meant More
The wife had a baby, and the husband has zero interest in the child and even resents the attention that the child takes away from him. He tells his wife that she is 100% responsible for this child, even financially. She realizes he is a terrible parent, and that makes him a terrible partner. She would rather be an actual single parent than deal with his man-baby mess, so she files a divorce petition.
Starting Over from Scratch
I have seen some evil things in Iraq. One of them was when a Joe of mine went to withdraw "soldier pay" while deployed. The finance officer told him he didn't have any more money in that account. After several months of deployment, he should have had a few thousand in there, minus what his wife was spending.
Everyone Lost Money
We represented a wife in a divorce. They had two young girls, and the husband had cheated on the wife. Making it worse, the husband had introduced the daughters to his other woman before the wife knew about her, which obviously really hurt her.
Not Their Skillets!
I have a client who collects cast iron skillets of various sizes, shapes, designs, etc. Overall, he has a rather large collection that he is very proud of, and we are currently in litigation because his wife wants half of the collection. He offered her cash for half of the value of the collection, but she doesn't want the money. She just wants to tear him up a little.
No Respect for His Time
My client had late-stage lung cancer and didn't know how long he had to live. His former wife had a rich new husband and took him back to court to get more custody — because he was sometimes late dropping off the kids and wasn't "respectful of her time."
Worst Vulture Ever
My client's wife was dying of cancer. The family was worth $50 million. Both parties were doctors, but the wife earned most of the money. His strategy was to delay until she died, because if she died before the divorce was final, he would get everything. She wanted to donate a chunk of her half of the money to her hospital, leave it to her kids, etc.
Messing with Their Kid's Future
The worst I've seen was my foreman, a 50-plus-year-old dude. His wife basically managed the finances because she spoke the most English and worked fewer hours than him. Well, unknown to him, she had stopped paying the bills and was hiding any letters that came, so he was clueless. Everything was on his credit since she had destroyed her credit with credit cards. The reason she did all this was because she was preparing to divorce him if he found out she was cheating on him with the teacher of a course she was taking.
Making Matters Worse
I represented the wife, and the husband was just a lazy human being. He didn't have a job for the last two years, he didn't want custody or even visitation of their two kids, and he refused to pay any child support.
Three Strikes, You're Out
The husband and wife were extremely well off, and the husband was a baseball fanatic who collected baseball bats from major MLB stars, past and present. The wife would always deride him throughout the course of their relationship about his stupid bat collection, which grew to be quite substantial during their relationship.
Ashes to Ashes
I had a husband and wife go toe-to-toe over an ashtray they got in Vegas at some point — neither smoked, strangely enough. They spent nearly $5,000 for me and another attorney to duke it out in court over the silly thing. Prior to proceeding, I explained what the cost would be to argue over something silly like this and that he could give me $2,500, and I would fly to Vegas for the weekend and get him an identical one instead.
A Happy Ending?
I once represented a husband who was divorcing his wife of 35-plus years. They were in their late 60s. At mediation, they divided up about half a million in assets within 30 minutes. Then they spent 2.5 hours fighting over two hurricane glasses from Pat O'Brien's and a pitchfork.
A Life Changing Discovery
Our client was married to a woman for 14 years, and they supposedly had three kids together who were ages 12, 10 and 8. Rumors started to spread that his wife cheated on him for years and that another man was the father of the 10-year-old and the 8-year-old.
Crushing Their Kids' Dreams
The parents had divorced, and the mother was my client. She wasn't going to apply for sole custody until the father texted her with a threat: "If you apply for full custody, I will take the kids to Lebanon and you will never find us." She got full custody and full control of the children's passports, and the father can no longer travel with the children.
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
I represented a woman who was convinced that her husband had implanted micro robots in her brain and was trying to control her. She would bring us all these nanotech articles trying to convince us that it was possible. She dragged the case out for four years, convinced that he had done all kinds of illegal stuff — destroyed her car brakes so she would crash, put poison in her tap water, etc. She was nuts. We almost had to get a conservator for her estate.
A Lonely Path to Poor Life Decisions
One divorce involved an elderly couple who had both recently been widowed. They had both been married to their individual spouses for more than 40 years. They married each other out of loneliness. About two years into the marriage, they realized they made a huge mistake. They couldn't stand each other. It was weird seeing 80-year-olds complaining about the same things you see kids arguing about.
Made an Offer He Couldn't Refuse
A previous client was ticked his wife was cheating on him. She wanted a non-contested divorce, and she wanted to use my boss specifically because she knew he was a great lawyer. He pretended to go along with her terms, and then he contacted us literally two days before his wife and retained us. He said he didn't care how much money the retainer was. He wanted my boss so his wife couldn't have him as a lawyer. He called and paid first, so he won that battle.
Who Knew Toilet Paper Could Be a Deal Breaker?
My client was the outrageous one, so my heart went out to his poor wife. He had OCD, which manifested primarily financially, so he made their lives a penny-pinching hell. Example: He was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving due to wear and tear on the car, gas expenses, etc., so he cut the whole family’s hair at home and never let them eat at a restaurant or go to the movies.
A Judge on the Dark Side
It’s not the most outrageous, but I had a client incur about 20 additional hours of billable hours because he and his ex-wife were battling and went to trial over their Star Wars collection. This was the only issue at trial. They were able to work out custody, child support, the house, but the Star Wars collection went to trial.
A Tradeoff of Junk
He was frustrated by her hoarding. She was frustrated by his utter uselessness. He filed for divorce, and she was my client. Her prized possession was a room or two full of scrapbooking materials. His prized possession was a yard full of junk cars that he never worked on. They had no children and no real assets.
Wasted No Time Moving On
A 46-year marriage was broken up because his old high school girlfriend was single again. We represented the wife. I learned later the guy married the old girlfriend THE SAME DAY the divorce was finalized.
Not Supposed to Happen in Jail
We still refer to it as "The Soulmate Case," but a married woman, with children ranging from 5 to 11 years old, got locked up for DUI on a Saturday night. What that means is she was stuck there till a bail review on Monday morning. She was released, and on the car ride back to the house, she told her husband and kids, "I’ve found my soulmate, and I want you all to be happy for me."
Pedal to the Metal
For whatever reason, being married lowered this couple’s ability to get a mid-range car loan. They were told by a bank that if they weren’t married, their chances of getting the loan would be higher. (I don’t know — maybe one spouse had really bad credit, and they applied together. I’m not sure. It never sounded correct to me.)
Blaming It All on Sentimental Value
I had a case where neither side would follow the court’s orders. When they had to go back to court, they were fighting over a pistol and the man's grandmother's bowls. I assumed for weeks that these bowls were some sort of heirloom or expensive china. When they finally brought the bowls in to swap, they were Tupperware!
Talk About a Transfer!
Wife and Husband No. 1 divorced with a child, and the wife got custody of the child. Husband No. 1 paid child support. The wife married Husband No. 2, and he adopted the child. Husband No. 1 was no longer on the hook for child support, as Husband No. 2 was then legally the father.