With so many couples walking up the aisle—and then sprinting to the courthouse—there’s no shortage of wacky divorce stories. No one knows that better than these divorce lawyers. From hidden fortunes to stuffed animal collections, divorce lawyers have seen it all. Attorney-client privilege or not, these stories are just too insane not to share…
I had a husband and wife go toe-to-toe over an ashtray they got in Las Vegas. The couple spent nearly $5,000 for me and another attorney to duke it out in court over the silly trinket. Prior to proceeding, I explained that it would be cheaper to fly me to Vegas and get an identical ashtray. The husband said he didn't care about the costs—and his reasons were deeply malicious.
It turns out that the husband had other intentions for their marriage memorabilia. When he won, he smashed the ashtray on the steps of the courthouse. He laughed and said the look on his wife’s face was worth much more than $2,500. People get crazy in divorce proceedings.
I wouldn't recommend it, but one of the best ways to stick it to your ex is to kick the can during a messy divorce. In my client's case, the court had orally declared a couple to be divorced. Sadly, before they could finalize the official paperwork, the husband went to his grave. The courts spent two years figuring out how to proceed and made a divisive decision…
The court decided that the wife had to divide everything 50/50 with her deceased husband. And to think, if he had passed two weeks sooner, she would have avoided years of court hearings, thousands in fees, and kept everything for herself.
My aunt has been divorced for quite some time, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s still driving her attorney crazy with her requests. Most recently, she took her ex-husband to court. Her motive was ridiculous. She wanted to know where he was working and when, all so that she could have her private investigator keep an eye on him and his new girlfriend.
She should have just let it go…she got the house, the kids, the boat, and even the Marriott International points.
I worked a divorce case that went to trial. The parties owned a business together, which they started during the marriage and which was their sole source of income. Obviously, the biggest issue was who was going to keep the business. While the divorce proceeded, the General Magistrate ordered my client to keep running the business and to pay the wife temporary alimony. If only it had ended then.
At trial, we went in front of a judge instead of the General Magistrate. This judge was older with poor memory and was fairly new to family law. She ended up giving the wife the business and ordering my client to pay the wife alimony! How is someone supposed to pay alimony if you take away their only source of income for the last 10 years?
I filed a motion for rehearing but the judge denied it. As if that was bad enough, do you want to know the cherry on top of this triple-layered divorce cake? The judge awarded my client his home that he had inherited from his grandmother. The wife had been living in there during the divorce proceedings, and the judge gave her 30 days to move out.
Well, she stayed until the last possible day. When my client went back to the home, the wife had completely destroyed the inside. She took a screw driver and scratched an “X” on the surface of all of the furniture and the walls. My client ended up leaving the country.
I once represented one party in a divorce. While the divorce proceedings were on-going, the couple still lived together pending the sale of their family home. But just because they lived together did not mean that they were on speaking terms. In fact, they would not speak to one another for any reason whatsoever. Things were so bad that I even had to negotiate terms for sharing refrigerator space.
The court ordered this couple, who had been divorced for four months, to divide up their Beanie Baby Collection, valued somewhere between $2,500 and $5000…and they were seemingly unable to do so by themselves. The couple spread out the collection on the floor and divided up one by one under the supervision of a Family Court Judge.
I worked as a courtroom clerk when I was in college. A couple filing for divorce were arguing over custody of their son. I thought it would be the normal "I won’t let you see him,” and name-calling nonsense, but I was in for a surprise. The mom wanted the dad to spend more time during the holidays together—all three of them. But the dad had demands of his own…
The dad in this strange divorce proceeding wanted the same thing as his maybe-ex-wife. He also wanted the family to spend more time together…just more frequently. The couple ended up reconciling and agreed to couples’ therapy before the divorce procedure went further. They came back a month later to withdraw the divorce proceeding. All is well that ends well.
My friend is a divorce lawyer. They had a client whose former spouse brutally attacked them. Apparently, the former spouse blamed the divorce attorney for “taking him to the cleaners” in the divorce. The worst part is that the lawyer was at the grocery store doing his weekly food shopping with his wife and kids during the attack.
I represented the husband in a divorce. During the proceedings, we tried to get the court to eliminate his spousal support obligations. His wife, however, insisted that she needed the support…and wait until you hear why. The whole process took way longer than it should have because his wife was taking vacations to Mexico at least once every month.
I once worked an interesting—and very, very sad—divorce case. It’s not uncommon for parents to fight over custody in a divorce, but that’s not what happened this time…not at all. My client and their spouse had a son that they named Snoop Frog (I kid you not) and sadly, neither of them wanted custody. Honestly, it was nothing that a name change couldn’t fix.
I worked for a law firm while in college. We had a client who had just come home from a two-week vacation with his wife. But she wasn’t going to be his wife for much longer. As soon as they pulled into the driveway, his wife’s lawyers served him with divorce papers and a temporary restraining order. His wife didn't say a word and just went into their house.
The poor guy came straight to our office and was massively confused. What happened on that vacation?
My first trial. My client’s husband was suing her for divorce. Her soon-to-be ex-husband was alleging habitual cruelty and inhumane treatment. When I heard what he had to say, my jaw-dropped. I had to agree with him. Her husband was claiming that she had grabbed him in a sensitive area really, really hard and hurt him on purpose.
What’s more, I had to cross examine him about it. Awkward.
I had a client whose soon-to-be-ex-husband used her email address and phone number to sign her up for every bank, loan, religious, mental illness, and adult site he could think of. These companies bombarded her about their products and services. He even put out her information on Craigslist. The joke was on him though…she actually went out with a guy who contacted her!
I’ve been a divorce lawyer for more than 20 years, so I've seen it all. I once represented a husband divorcing his wife of over 35 years. At mediation, they divided up about a half million in assets within 30 minutes—and then things went south. They spent the next two and half hours fighting over a couple of hurricane glasses from Pat O'Brien's and a pitchfork.
$1,000 in attorney fees later, they settled…and then got remarried anyway.
I knew a wealthy land owner who went to some extreme lengths to get even after a divorce. He lost his home to his ex-wife in the divorce proceedings but kept his trump card. He was able to keep the rest of the undeveloped neighborhood land and turned it into an industrial park. In other words, he surrounded his ex-wife’s huge house with a ton of factories.
My uncle is a divorce lawyer, but not a very good one. He represented a couple who had recently started getting into some problems. The wife had had enough of married life and just left one night. Her husband was through with her since she left, and went to my uncle for a divorce. My uncle agreed but he kept delaying because he had plans of his own.
While my uncle stalled the husband, he came up with an ingenious plan. He did what he knew was in everyone’s best interest. My uncle hired a private investigator to search for the missing wife. Fortunately, he eventually found her and talked her into going back to her husband. Things worked out in the end…but my uncle might be the worst divorce lawyer in the country.
How much time do you have? Over the course of my career, I’ve seen nearly a dozen wife-swaps. And it’s just as weird as it sounds. Usually, the husband will cheat on his wife with his friend’s wife. This causes a divorce for both parties, and their respective spouses (wife of first party and husband of second) end up getting together. Happens quite often for whatever reason.
I saw a mother and father live together during a divorce and fight over the location of their children’s Xbox and Wii. At first, the gaming consoles were in the family living room. The father then put the consoles in his bedroom so that the children would spend all of their time in his bedroom. The mother literally went to court to have the Xbox and Wii returned to the living room. They spent thousands on this.
I'm not a lawyer, but I’ve got a story about one. There was a case in which a man found out that his wife was having an affair. Heartbroken, the man found a divorce lawyer. In court, the husband learned a brutal truth. His lawyer was the man his wife was having the affair with. Of course, the lawyer got his license taken away after that.
I’m a family law paralegal. We had a client whose husband had taken her kids on an unscheduled bus trip to Mexico. We expedited everything. I went above and beyond for this woman—even contacting attorneys in the deep south of Mexico and writing out very clear instructions to get back her kids. As it turns out, our client was no victim.
This woman had physically accosted her husband because he confronted her about sleeping with his brother. Now you see why the husband packed up and took the kids.
My client (the husband) was living in the same house as his wife throughout the divorce proceedings. He'd call me and complain about things like: his wife ate a bag of chips and didn't replace it, she invited one of her friends over who he disliked, she binged watched TV instead of fixing dinner, etc., etc. He paid me $250/hour for the privilege of venting over the phone to an attorney.
One of my father's friends tried to “salt the earth” before getting divorced. He transferred the deeds to a rental house and a cabin to relatives and sold the family cars to relatives for tiny sums…and he was just getting started. He put stocks in a trust “for the children” and vanished a chunk of cash from the company he co-owned with his wife.
He even stopped paying himself a salary, electing to burn through their personal savings for over a year instead. Well, he might have salted the earth but he was in for just desserts. When the divorce proceedings went to court, he learned that judges really, really hate it when you try to play dirty games. Turns out that hiding or intentionally diminishing assets is actually not a good idea.
In fact, judges will absolutely refer you to prosecutors. I don't think that he spent time behind bars, but his ex-wife did get everything, plus the satisfaction of firing him from his own company.
A friend of mine is a divorce lawyer. His favorite story is the time that the husband in a bitter divorce said that he would “out-lawyer” his wife and break the bank before giving her anything she wanted. He said this in front of my friend, her lawyer. My friend looks at the wife and says, "I'm working for you pro bono (free) from this moment forward."
I took a domestic relations class run by a retired judge who told us a few good stories. My favorite was a story where both parties in a divorce were acting unreasonably and not thinking of the kids. In the end, the judge awarded the house to the kids who would live there permanently while the parents—who had joint custody—would take turns living there.
The best thing was that neither party could afford to buy an additional place, so they had to rent a small flat together and also share that.
I had a case in where husband found some incriminating texts on his wife's phone. He suspected that she was cheating on him with some guy. What’s more is that he also got the impression that his sister-in-law (his brother’s wife) might be in on it in some way. He and his brother end up hiring a private investigator to tail both of their wives to get to the truth. But the truth can hurt…
The brothers essentially confirmed that both women were seeing other people. My client’s sister in-law admitted to carrying on an affair. His brother attempted to reconcile but eventually filed for divorce. My client’s wife admitted that she was looking for an affair but only "met for some kisses" and she "touched him a little bit.” He filed for divorce anyway.
My dad is a retired lawyer and he got this story from a judge. A man and a woman went through an unhappy divorce, and their poor kids got stuck in the middle. The wife got custody and the man got visitation rights but, apparently, that wasn’t good enough for her. She made parental alienation her goal in life. So, her ex-husband took her to court over this and she actually ended up behind bars for contempt more than once.
The judge who told this story to my dad finally told the man, "I can throw her back in prison as many times as you want, but there's no winner in this."
I used to work for a judge when two prominent local news personalities were getting a divorce. They filed for mutual restraining orders against each other for an unspecified use of force. The filings were vague on details but still managed to convey a sense of savage levels of blood. When the time came for the hearing, it turned out that the use of force they were referring to was spitting.
Specifically, during a heated argument, flecks of spittle managed to touch the other party. The judge denied the restraining orders, and both parties' attorneys probably bought new yachts. Such is justice in a divorce.
This is the story of a potentially thwarted divorce case. A man and his fiancée were buying a house together. They got to the paper where you sign off on all your aliases. In a Mr. & Mrs. Smith-worthy turn of events, the woman had a full-page's worth of former names. The guy asked, "What is this?" The woman's response made his blood run cold.
She nonchalantly replied, "Oh, I've been married five times before." The guy got up and walked out. Crisis averted.
I was a secretary for an attorney. Divorce can be pretty depressing but it can also be a real laugh. I think that the most entertaining divorce story was when a guy had to get creative in divorcing his wife. He had to have the divorce papers sent to her the newspaper because she wouldn't leave the house or answer the door for the process server.
My friend’s firm handled the divorce of an extremely rich man who claimed his wife was cheating on him. The lawyer proceeded to ask him about his assets and what he wanted to keep. The man said that his wife could have the house, the car, the boat, the kids, etc. Given that he seemed willing to give up everything, the lawyer asked him what he wanted to keep. Not even Cruella de Ville would have asked for this.
After the man’s lawyer asked him what he wanted to keep in the divorce, the man angrily responded, "My wife only loves her dog. I want her to suffer so I want the court to order that the dog be taken away from her and cremated. She can have 50% of the ashes and I'll have the other 50%." What would have happened if his wife only loved their kids?
I represented a woman who was convinced that her husband was the real-world equivalent of Lex Luthor or something. She claimed that he had implanted micro-robots in her brain and was trying to control her. She would bring us all of this nanotechnology and try to convince us that it was possible. She dragged the case out for four years. We almost had to get a conservator for her estate.
My first divorce case was the most memorable. My client was a nice looking, 50ish waitress who was breaking hearts at the local small-town cafe. She was on divorce number five. I had a little lawyer kit of things she should do such as clean out the joint accounts, change the car title, etc. To my surprise, she had done all of them…plus a few things I hadn’t thought of.
“Husband No.5” came into my office to cry and concede everything. Now that was a guy who needed a lawyer with a list. Suffice to say, our client got everything she was, or might have been, entitled to plus a little more.
I was a family law attorney for years. It was nasty all the time, which is why I finally switched to a different area. But not before this crazy couple…I worked a divorce where the ex-couple lived together after their divorce. It wasn’t for love. It was just pure and simple spite. Neither wanted to move. I believe they still live together.
I once interned for a small family firm and had some really odd stories. This attractive lady relocated from Florida to the mountains of Virginia with her husband to restart their relationship. Unfortunately, they were moving in with her parents and had not found a new place to live yet. Well, the move didn’t help and they ended up seeking a divorce.
He ended up kicking the woman out of the house. Yeah, you read that correctly, he kicked her out of her parents’ house.
This wasn’t my case, but I overheard it in divorce court once. While separated, a guy went around to his wife's house and took revenge on her car. Apparently, in an act of brazen post-marital rage, he slashed her tires. And if you were thinking about calling the authorities, you’ll have no luck there. He was a law enforcement officer. That’s just crazy.
I would never disclose a client's details because, you know, confidentiality. But I did have a mediation professor who told me this gem of a divorce story. She was mediating a divorce and the couple was so close to making a settlement. Until it all went out the window…literally. You see, this couple had purchased a lovely Victorian home together.
The husband, while unemployed, had painstakingly restored all of the old windows. Restoring the windows was a very time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Fast-forward to division of assets: The couple agreed to split the sale of the house equally, but he demanded a larger share because of the value of the windows. She said she should have that money, because she was supporting them at the time.
He returned that she could keep the entire house, but he was getting those windows. Then she said, “You can shove those windows up your...” Well, anyway, you get the idea. They went back and forth while my poor professor tried to mediate them into a neutral position.
I worked a divorce case that was frustrating enough to make anyone pluck out their eyelashes. It took the couple two hours to decide who would get the groceries left in the fridge. The estimated value of the groceries was around $40. Two hours of my time, opposing counsel’s time, and mediator time added up to about $1,000. It all came down to an oversized jar of peanut butter.
All I could think of the whole time was, “Who keeps peanut butter in the fridge?!”
I once had a case where the estranged wife just didn’t know what was good for her. She was calling my client's employer repeatedly, accusing him of theft and other white-collar crimes to try to get my client fired. The funny thing about it all was that she was also demanding child support…which was based on my client’s income. Income from the job from which she was trying to get him fired.
My dad was a divorce lawyer. He had a client who wanted to divorce her husband for two very odd reasons. For one, she claimed that he did not have enough hair on his chest. And the second reason was that he did not drive fast enough. In all fairness, this was 1970s when chest hair was a bit more important. The speeding thing, that I can’t explain.
I was in a mediation once where it took the couple an hour and a half to split their personal property, retirement accounts, real property, and custody of their six-month-old son. The rest of the day, about four hours, they spent arguing about how to split the time with the dog. For the kid they just said, "as agreed upon by the parties" but the dog had a strict schedule.
I was a clerk for a family court judge. Believe me when I say that the kids always suffer in a divorce. We had a woman go to extreme lengths to spite her ex-husband, even if it meant disappointing her daughter. She even tried to get an injunction to keep the father from taking their daughter on a trip to Disney World. Like it is whenever love ends, it was so sad.
There are so many crazy divorce stories and they always bring out the absolute worst in couples. Like this one: A couple did their will with our firm. We drafted everything for them as they were an older couple; they had been married for 40 years total. The husband wanted us to put in his will that his kids get his entire estate, with one small caveat: He did not want us to tell his wife.
Instead, he wanted to have us make a secret will and a fake will. He had a whole plan. He would sign the fake will with her present, and then we would shred it. Then he would come in later to sign the "real will.” There was just one hitch in his Ocean’s Eleven scheme…he copied his wife on the email. Two weeks later, he called us and said he wanted to file for divorce.
A previous client of ours was livid that his wife was cheating on him. She wanted a non-contested divorce and wanted to use my boss specifically because she knew he was a great lawyer. So, our client pretended to go along with her terms but contacted us literally two days before his wife and retained us. He said he didn't care how much money the retainer was going to be.
He just wanted my boss so his wife couldn't have him as a lawyer. He called and paid first, so he won that battle.
My aunt was a divorce lawyer. She worked a case where the wife glued all of the outdoor hoses together so that her husband wouldn’t spend any more time washing his car. When the glue didn’t work, she just cut up the hoses instead. And when this woman’s husband bought new hoses, she finally filed for divorce. The only question I have is…”Was it a nice car?”
I used to clerk for a judge, and we had a week-long divorce trial between a couple. The husband was a wildlife photographer and the wife was a stay-at-home wife who “remodeled” the house. They had no kids. Anyway, one day the husband was photographing a grizzly bear but must have gotten a little too close and the bear mauled him.
He spent several months in the hospital and rehab. As if surviving a bear attack wasn’t enough, his wife had him served with divorce papers shortly after he got out of rehab. Of course, she wanted half of everything. The guy had lost an eye…what more could she possibly have taken?
Neither side would follow the court orders. When they had to go back to court, they were fighting over the husband’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 into the courtroom to swap them, I discovered that they were Tupperware. Who knew plastic was more precious than diamonds?
My client was the outrageous one in this story, and my heart went out to his poor wife. My client had OCD which manifested primarily in the family finances. He made their lives a penny-pinching nightmare. For example, he was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving, so he cut the whole family’s hair at home and never let them eat at a restaurant or go to the movies. That wasn’t even the strangest thing.
Weirdest of all, he kept one toilet paper roll on him at all times, and you had to get one square from him before you could go to the bathroom. He never gave more than one square. His wife finally got tired of him and left him when he gave her bangs during an in-home haircut. Even their daughter was so traumatized by the whole toilet paper thing they couldn’t potty train her.
Being such a miser, he viewed my whole job as a divorce attorney as an unnecessary expense.
My mom was a divorce lawyer. One specific story I remember was about a couple fighting for custody of their dog. The guy already lost custody of the children and then lost the case for custody of the dog. When the ex-wife’s mother came to pick up the dog, he told her that she could get him out of the freezer...Yes, that’s right, he froze the dog.
I represented the husband in a divorce. On the day of the trial, opposing counsel presented shocking evidence. The wife’s attorneys produced photographs that they claimed proved adultery. The photos were of my client, the husband, wearing lingerie and a long brown wig, engaging in act of intimacy with another man. I was able to successfully exclude this from evidence...because the wife was the photographer.
This woman won $1.3million in a lottery pool and filed for divorce 11 days later. She never mentioned her lottery winnings to her husband. She also did not disclose the proceeds during the divorce. She would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for a letter that arrived at their former marital residence over two years after the divorce…
The letter was an offer to buy out her lottery annuity with a lump sum payment. The husband promptly lawyered up and the family court awarded 100% of the prize proceeds to him.
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