Divorce Lawyers Share The Most Screwed They’ve Ever Seen A Client In Court
All good things come to and end, including marriages. Shouldn’t it be easier? In theory, divorce courts are to arbitrate fair decisions. In practice, that’s not always the case. From henpecked husbands to wiped-clean wives, cringe for the winners (and losers) in these stories about the most screwed over spouses ever represented by divorce lawyers.
1. ‘Til Death Do We Spend Some Time Apart
I used to work as a divorce lawyer, but it honestly wasn’t something that I was proud of. Plus, the partner who I worked for was a complete jerk. I was the eleventh associate to work for her in just 10 years. We used to go through two or three secretaries every single year. Here’s a couple of the screwed up cases that I can remember:
Our client and his wife were both Mormon, and she tried to use it against him. During the divorce, she kept telling him that he had to give her everything she wanted in the divorce because they were sealed in the church and would be spending eternity together. We had to fight him not to give her more than she deserved.
We also 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 jerk.
2. Don’t Play with My Heart
Lawyer here. One of mine that sticks out is that the husband and wife both played some sort of online role-playing game, sort of like The Sims I think but a little more elaborate and adult (“Second Life” maybe?) I don’t know anything about online games. The wife got heavily involved with the game, like 10 hours a day, and wouldn’t reduce her time playing no matter what he said.
What tipped things over the edge, however, was that he set up a fake profile/ avatar and went online to stalk her in the game and found her avatar having sex with some random guy’s avatar. Nothing ever happened in real life (neither of them were exactly oil paintings to look at), but that was enough for the guy to initiate a fairly acrimonious divorce.
3. Permanently Leaving the Neighborhood
I had a client who was the cleanest cut of the clean. Think of the nicest, most innocent, stable guy you can think of (I only take clients based on their initial few weeks of behavior and background check). He was basically Mr. Rodgers. No criminal record, same company for 20 years, great character references that were proven.
Then the client went and got not one but two DUIs and an assault charge. Then he committed suicide. I know he didn’t want me to get stuck with no money and hordes of paperwork. I think I’m a nice guy. But sometimes I wonder.
4. You Just Played Yourself
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 learned that judges really, really, REALLY hate it when you try to hide or intentionally diminish assets, and they will absolutely refer you to prosecutors for fraud. I don’t think that he did any jail time in the end, but his ex-wife got absolutely EVERYTHING, plus the satisfaction of firing him from his own company.
5. Drop the Digits and Your Spouse
I knew a guy who lost his own cell phone number in the divorce. He’d used the same number since high school, but she convinced the judge that she used his phone enough to get his number. Basically, he kept his clothes and car and had to pay alimony.
6. The Caustic Ex
This husband and wife were getting divorced after multiple attempts to reconcile. The husband is an attorney, though not family law. One of the attempted reconciliations included the wife losing some weight and sending husband some sexy/naked pictures. Once the divorce litigation started, the husband sent these pictures to the wife’s minister father, asking if he knew what a harlot he raised.
During the litigation process, the husband also drove around at night (with, I should add, their two small children in the car with him) to find the wife’s car parked over in her friend’s driveway. He proceeded to pour airplane acid (yeah apparently, it’s a thing) all over the hood of the wife’s car. Not a great guy, that’s for sure
7. This Testimony Is Not Suitable for All Audiences
We once went to an open court with my university, and it was a divorce case. Our whole class was there watching them get divorced. It was a Dutch business guy and his eastern European wife. She was talking about how he forced her to do extreme things in the bedroom against her will. Their children were also there watching, and I remember feeling so bad for the kids.
They were like 12 / 15 and not only did they have to watch their parents’ divorce, they had to hear about their father’s fetishes and how he forced on their mother while an entire class of university students was watching along gasping like we were watching a movie. The lady was crying while she was talking about all his fetishes that she absolutely hated.
Judge asked if he ever was violent. She said he slapped me on my face and bottom, only during sex but I didn’t want it. I remember seeing their 15-year-old daughter at that moment. Completely red face and eyes filled with tears that she tried to hold in. Looked like she wanted to bury her head into the sand. Felt so terrible for that girl.
Meanwhile, the girl next to me kept pushing her leg against mine every time this lady spoke a word, like, “OMG DID YOU HEAR THAT?”
8. Holy Matrimony is Not a Heist Movie
My favorite divorce story of all time. My buddy meets girl, gets married, la di da. Six months later, she runs off with another dude. After a couple months, my buddy filed for divorce. He told her, “Listen, we’ve been married six months. Let’s do an uncontested divorce since you haven’t worked or anything. I own everything and I did before I met you.”
She puts up a fight and eventually comes to, “I had a car coming into this marriage and I’m leaving with one” (she sold her car for some dumb stuff). He offers her the truck, 10 years old with 150k miles, but meticulously maintained. She said nope, so off to court they go. She got zip, nada, empty-handed.
9. Challenge Accepted
Friend of mine is a divorce lawyer. His favorite is 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, who just happened to be her lawyer. He looks at her and says, “I’m working for you pro bono (free) from this moment forward.”
He looks back at the scumbag husband and says, “I got all day.”
10. A Stroke of Bad Love
My father in law had a stroke at the age of 46. He lost the use of his right arm and the ability to speak. Shortly after his stroke, his wife decided they needed to move into a smaller house and sell their current one, which was under his name and he had paid for. This also meant she was kicking out my brother-in-law and my wife (girlfriend at the time).
She also decided to put down my wife’s cat and get rid of the family dog since their new house wouldn’t have pets, according to her. She sold their house at a loss and immediately bought a new car with the money. My wife and her brother found a new place, and my father-in-law and his wife moved in with one of her kids.
After six months, she dumped him at my wife’s place and said, “I can’t take care of him we are getting a divorce.” I don’t know how it happened exactly, but she got half his money and a new car. She then went to all his family and lied to them and somehow convinced them that he was being abusive and didn’t love her anymore.
We tried to convince him to fight it, but he refused to do anything because he was so depressed. The lawyer ruled he was of sound mind so he could make his own decisions. My wife is still upset about it and wishes he had tried to fight it, but he still loved his wife, so he didn’t want to. He lives with us now and has been doing a lot better emotionally.
11. A House in Custody
On my year abroad in the US, I took a domestic relations class run by an ex-judge who told us a few good ones. The first was a couple who gathered their entire stuffed toy collection and split them in court, each taking turns to pick. He said they weren’t even collectibles, mostly just a lot of cheap ones you’d get at the fair.
My favorite is the time when both parties were both being unreasonable and not thinking of the kids. In the end, he awarded the house to the kids, who would permanently live there, and the parents who had joint custody would take turns living there. His argument was that the kids’ lives should take priority. The best thing was that neither party could afford to buy an additional place on their own, so the couple had to rent a small flat together and also share that.
Pretty cool judge in my opinion.
12. This Tiger Has Claws
Divorce lawyer and mediator here. I once mediated the case of Neckbeard v. Tiger Mom. It must have started out as the perfect dream for Neckbeard. 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.
Tiger 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: “Tiger Mom shall be enjoined from discussing Neckbeard’s weight in a derogatory manner, specifically, tiger mom may not refer to neckbeard 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 Tiger Mom’s room. Of course, she thought it was hilarious. She had a super thick accent and said, “My daughter call him Baymax cuz he look like Baymax, I can’t fix that, he have to fix that.”
There comes a point at the end of the day when everything is pretty much settled and people are dividing up the stuff in the house. Of course, Neckbeard has a meltdown at this point, and it’s over a dang Nintendo Switch for the daughter. Tiger 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.
Neckbeard freaks out and demands the Switch stay with him at all times because “There’s no way Tiger 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.
As for who is the victim here: Both? Neither? Neckbeard had sex at least once and it was way out of his league. He also has a well-adjusted daughter and plenty of time with her if he wants to take it. He even has gaming in common with her. Tiger Mom had to put up with this guy for a few years but now has a prosperous life and a lovely daughter.
13. You’ve Got Male
Client’s husband was an elected official (may still be) and signed a separation agreement. He fails to do anything he agreed to, so the wife sues. He fights, saying that she forced him to sign. She shows emails where he negotiated the agreement and agreed on the final draft, and she shows emails where she tried to work with him on payments that he owed her.
He loses after making his staff member come into court (who testified that he didn’t think the husband was being forced) and having a complete meltdown (rumor was he threw his elected title around the judge as a way to get them to help him). A few months later, he shows up to contest the actual divorce, citing the same stuff, and then says that she threatened to shoot him.
Judge sides with the client. He has to now pay her like $6K or get thrown in jail. All could’ve been avoided if he responded to the emails that she sent him.
14. Take Your Licks and Get Out
My parents got divorced when I was 12. I am sketchy on the details, but I remember it was long, drawn-out, and acrimonious. Eventually, my mum was awarded a massive settlement; my dad was basically left with superannuation and nothing else. After the ruling was handed down, my mother’s own lawyer walked into my father and his lawyer’s meeting and said, “That ruling was BS, you should appeal.” Gotta be pretty bad when a lawyer wants his own win overturned.
He didn’t appeal. He was a bit broken by that point and just wanted to move on. Sorry for lack of detail. I was twelve, it was some time ago! My dad told me the story years later.
15. He Wanted an Ultimate Separation
My parents’ divorce seemed simple: dad cheated on mom, mom gets custody of me. Dad didn’t like paying alimony and child support to the tune of $2k a month after he gave up rights, so he had a great idea: Pay a hitman $15k to kill his soon-to-be ex-wife. He ended up going through with it, but the idiot actually paid an undercover cop the money. He then flew back to Canada (home) and waited for the results.
An international task force was formed to try and detain him. Geraldo Rivera covered the story. My idiot dad got arrested in Toronto and flown back to California. In this process, I was three and in care of family back down south, and my mother was in protection by the police. My dad’s (apparently) wealthy family got a good lawyer. He was charged with 17 felonies, and I can’t remember how many he was convicted of.
He got 18 months. After all of this, my mom still had to sue for divorce. It took two long years. My mom is ok, though she’s bipolar now and had to move out of the state. I moved back home after spending time in the military. Today, my dad’s out of jail, just not allowed in the country. I have never met him. We’ve talked four times. Found out when I was 18.
16. Work to Rule
A woman in my town is a Principal at a local elementary school. She is in her mid-70s (at least). I asked someone why she doesn’t retire, and they explained that she and her spouse went through a very contentious divorce about 15 years ago and she has to give him a portion of her retirement, so she has decided to NEVER retire so he gets nothing ever! Hahahahaha.
17. The Doghouse Becomes His Revenge
My uncle represented this guy getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years. Super toxic breakup, and they split everything 50/50, even the land that the house they lived in sat upon. Well, she decides to build a house right behind the other house. Mind you, this was a lot of land. There was probably 200 yards separating both home sites, and the backs of the houses faced each other.
The house gets built, and my uncle gets a call from his client asking about the legality of a situation he had gotten himself into. Apparently, his ex-wife would spend a lot of time in her backyard, so he saw her all the time. What he did was buy a female dog and name it the same name as his ex-wife. Anytime he would let his dog back in from letting her out, he would yell “Susan, you b****! Get in here!”
He would also yell if she was peeing on the flowers, “Susan you b****! Quit pissing on the flowers!” or “Susan, you b****! Quit digging in the dirt!” The ex-wife called the cops on him a couple of times, but there was nothing they could do because the dog was registered under the name of Susan, and it was literally a b****, so there you go.
18. He’s the One Who Felt the Burn
The couple separated a decade ago but didn’t officially divorce until a couple years ago. She was going to get his house, so he burned it down then faxed her the transfer of ownership forms. He might be going to jail for arson though.
19. The Case of the Disappearing Dollars
Worked at a law firm that was subpoenaed as part of a divorce between a partner at the firm and a partner at another major law firm. The woman issued more than 70 subpoenas to banks, firms, investment companies—you name it—because she was convinced that 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.
In the end, after she racked up $1.5 million in legal fees, and had gone through seven different lawyers, the judge said this stuff is ridiculous: there was no conspiracy, and you are not entitled to a portion of this phantom $20 million. Mind you: this was a major law firm partner who was acting this way. She made millions per year in her career. But she apparently lost her mind.
20. This is Why You Think of the Children…
Not a divorce lawyer, but I did surgical rotations with an OB/GYN, and have personally seen the lowest of the low: In divorce hearings, people say a lot of stuff when trying to place blame or get custody. A lot of it is straight up lies. Not all lies can be erased or taken back. The worst one is an accusation of sexual abuse.
YOU CAN NOT REDACT AN ACCUSATION OF SEXUAL ABUSE AGAINST A MINOR. It happened ridiculously more frequently than I can stomach. A spouse, trying to get the upper hand, makes the claim. Now the lawyer/court/state is bound by law to investigate. And suddenly that precious, innocent child that mommy is trying to gain custody of is brought to the OR, sedated, and then investigated inside and out for evidence of abuse.
Those are about the only days that nobody in the entire wing says anything. No jokes, no smiles. Just a sick feeling in your stomach that takes away all appetite and joy. So many times, the parent who makes the accusation finds out what they’re about to put the child through and tries to take it back. Tries to cancel the procedure, tries to say they may have been confused or mistaken, or even admits they flat out lied.
Doesn’t matter. Once that box is opened, the investigation must continue. Of the couple dozen cases I saw, I can only recall one that supported the accusation.
21. “C” You at the Bank
Dad was a real jerk, and Mom tried to save him a lot of money during the divorce. They have three kids who were 16, 13, and eight. Dad wouldn’t sign ANY agreement my mom’s lawyer produced. It had to be his idea and from his lawyer or it wasn’t getting signed. Dad’s lawyer was incompetent and sends an agreement that states he will pay $2,000 a month in child support until all kids are 18.
Mom tried to explain to dad that it needed to be revised to lower every time a child turned 18. Dad called mom a C-word during that negotiation, so mom said screw it, and signed the agreement. Dad paid the $2,000/month for 10 years when he should’ve been paying around $1,400/month for five years and $700/month for the last five years.
In short, Dad screwed himself out of thousands each year by calling my mom a C-word.
22. Driving Himself Crazy
Throughout the divorce proceedings, there was a car that was a huge point of contention between the husband and wife. After months and months of saying he would never let the wife have the car, the husband concedes in exchange for something great, like one of their summer houses. It turns out he had been driving the car for three hours every day in a big loop around the city, putting thousands and thousands of miles on it, basically making it worthless.
The amount of planning and spite that went into that was amazing.
23. Who is the Sick One?
My ex’s brother helped his friend (he was friends with the couple, but clearly “chose” the guy) hide assets and wash cash in the six months leading up to a “Surprise, I’m divorcing you!” by the friend to his now ex and deceased wife. Oh yeah: he did this because she had just been diagnosed with cancer, was not going to live, and he didn’t see why “his money” should go to “her health care” when she was going to “die in a few years” anyway.
24. From Home Renovation to Big Separation
My father built the house I grew up in with minimal help. He spent two years working on it and did the hardwood floors, staircase, bathrooms, and hung every cabinet by himself. Every piece of trim in the house was run through a lathe with his own two hands. He even did the spackling for all the ceilings and all of the paintwork.
Then my mom cheated on him for a year and bought him out of the house. Now my mom and step-dad have a pretty sweet place to live, and I can tell it hurts my dad whenever he has to go by to pick up my sister and stand in the entryway of the house that he built and watch their fat dog scratch up the hardwood that he was so proud of.
25. Everyone Wants Something for Nothing
More of an estate issue, but a deceased man was married to a woman nine years ago. 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. Man brings a fully-paid-for house into the marriage. He takes out a mortgage to presumably afford vacations and new wife expenses. Bank requires both names on the mortgage, so he deeds it to them as joint tenants.
Two years later, she leaves him for another man and was never heard from again. A couple months ago, he finds out he’s going to die. He immediately files for a divorce (but it was never finalized). He created a deed to his children (not valid, because it would need her signature), and a will which describes in detail how terrible she was, and disinheriting her completely (doesn’t matter, because the state allows a wife to avoid the will and take 1/2 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, no heirs will receive anything. She will receive a hefty house and a $20K car.
26. The Cost of Good Grief
Bad separation. Wife filed a restraining order on the husband (very common, wasn’t a terrible guy but not great either). A year into the divorce, his mother was dying. He asked his sister to speak with his ex-wife and ask to bring the kids to see her in the hospital before she died. The wife never did. Instead, she went to the court and said he violated the restraining order by trying to contact her (you can’t contact someone through another party).
He admitted it and explained the situation but was found in breach of the order. His mother died while he was locked up, and the wife never brought the kids to see her.
27. Take a Sip of This Pettiness
My in-laws are mega into food and wine, as in they literally travel the world on food and wine tours, are part of clubs, etc. They told me about a nasty divorce where the husband was the wine aficionado, not the wife, but the wife was mad about getting divorced. The husband got all the wines in their extensive cellar, but before he was able to collect them, the wife soaked every bottle to remove ALL of the labels.
So technically the wine was not damaged, but the husband had no way to know what he was drinking for aging and pairing purposes (which is a huge deal to wine drinkers).
28. Gambling on Her Love
My dad basically appealed custody over and over, bringing in new friends to back his character. This forced my mum to seek a barrister/lawyer to defend herself. My dad is/was a massive problem gambler. He had no permanent home and was pretty bad at practical life stuff (nutrition, education, etc). This forced my mum to dig into all her savings to pay legal fees to keep a child anybody with a sound mind would know is much more capable than my dad.
So, in the end, my dad basically made my mother bankrupt trying to get custody over a child he wouldn’t have been able to raise.
29. His Excuses Couldn’t Hold Water, So Neither Could He
Used to be a secretary for a family law solicitor. Had this one divorce case where the wife was a teacher of 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, and so she had to cash in her pension so to speak and had to have a reduced amount. The husband ended up getting around £20,000.00.
He was an alcoholic, wasted the money, and drank himself to death within two years of receiving the payout.
30. Banking on a Faulty Ride
My mom showed up to the final meeting for my parents’ divorce, and her last request was to “trade cars.” My dad had a car about a year newer, she had never driven it, and my dad drove 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 no.
A few days later my dad gets home to a message from his lawyer; he found out that mom’s car had died, and needed a new transmission. She failed to mention that when she offered up the trade.
31. A Waist of Their Time
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.
32. Schooling Herself in Bad Faith
My sister in law is mid-divorcing my brother after 30+ years of marriage. She’s met someone else, so far so normal. It happens, right? The thing that’s destroyed him is her emptying their son’s savings account which my parents (very far from well off) have paid into once a month for years. That’s his university fund wiped out.
I don’t know about screwing over your spouse, but it’s the one betrayal my brother can’t come to terms with. My parents had set up an ordinary child savings account with my sister-in-law as sole trustee. They absolutely trusted her, but unfortunately, this gave her complete control over all of the funds in the account.
Legally, there’s not much we could do. She claims she thought it was “spending money” for my nephew for items of clothing, days out, etc. Bollocks to that. My parents already spend a fortune on that kind of stuff, and she’s clearly spent it all on her new relationship with the unemployed jerk, who also left his wife and three kids for her.
My parents have always had savings accounts for ALL their grandchildren, including my own children, and we ALL knew the money was for the kids to pay university fees or put towards a deposit on a home. So, while she’s morally disgusting, I think legally my parents are screwed. One glimmer: She didn’t get what she wanted financially in the divorce settlement because my brother’s solicitor asked for a provision in the order relating to her repaying the money taken from the account.
Faced with having to explain to a judge why there was a dispute over it, she backed down on some other stuff. So, my nephew has a new account which my parents have started paying into, and me and my husband are doing what we can too. Meanwhile, her life is circling the drain in all sorts of other ways, which I personally couldn’t give a darn about except to the extent that my poor nephew is trapped in the middle of it 🙁
33. Ready, Aim, Revenge
I used to work for a security company. The big one. 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 (violating a court order by my understanding), the cops were gonna show up REAL freaking fast.
34. All Good Things Should Come to an End
My mom works in a trustee’s office in Kansas. She once saw a divorce case between a soldier and a dependent. The soldier elected not to get a lawyer and handled it on his own. He specified that he would pay alimony but did not specify that it would stop when she remarried (to another soldier). Moral: Lawyer up if you divorce.
35. Don’t Take a Chance with the Math
I have worked for a lawyer who worked divorces. This was his favorite case. Guy was making $150K a year, gets a Thai mail order bride, has three kids. Dude has an affair, and now decides that he doesn’t want an FOB wife and mixed-race kids, so he initiates a divorce. The woman’s only priority is to have custody of the kids, so, against her attorney’s advice, she’s willing to do whatever it takes.
She was willing to take a deal where she takes a car and gets $1,200 in child support, no spousal support, and $3,000 lump sum from their joint account, so she can rent an apartment (By the way, there’s ZERO chance that he actually wants 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 bad that she was willing to live with three kids in a modest two-bedroom apartment and pull the kids out of expensive extracurricular activities (one of the kids has some talent in an Olympics event, to the level where she was getting professional coaching). She had to go to extreme lengths to cut costs, as well as get a crummy survival-type job after only ever being housewife since coming to the US.
The husband takes it to the front of the judge, against the advice of his own attorney, who tells him that he’d be nuts to turn this down. He doesn’t want to give her $3K, and figures that the judge will decide between what she wants and what he wants, not realizing that there’s a formula based on income that judges use to determine child support payments.
At the court, the judge awards the wife the $3K lump sum and $1,700 child support…FOR EACH KID. So, because he didn’t want to give his ex-wife $3K so his kids could have a place to live, about 50% of his take-home pay is going to his ex for the next 10+ years. The attorney I worked with was a stickler about money who never did anything for free, but this was the one case where he represented the woman for just a nominal fee because he had a justice boner.
36. It’s a Doggone Tragedy
A wife negotiated like a woman possessed for custody of the couple’s dog, which the husband (my client) adored. We negotiated the husband’s visitation rights for the life of the dog. So, she had a vet put the dog down a week after the divorce was final.
37. None of My Business
My client and her ex-husband owned a successful renovation company. Marital issues happened, and they decided to divorce. They look at the money that is in the banks, the value of the company based on its past, the value of the house, and make an agreement that she gets the company and house, and he walks away with the ready cash. He takes off for a sunny place to start his life again.
Turns out, 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. Company has been existing on credit for over six months while he emptied the bank accounts. Employee’s paychecks start bouncing within weeks of him leaving, so they quit.
Jobs are not getting finished, so customers demand 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 declaring bankruptcy.
38. It’s a Love Lockdown
There was this lady who was going through a nasty divorce. Her husband had all of her possessions moved into a storage locker. He quit paying for the storage locker and conveniently failed to tell his ex-wife that it wasn’t being paid for any longer. My buddy who buys storage lockers said that he saw the lady showing up with police officers in tears at the auction sale after someone else had already purchased the locker.
The police told her there was nothing they could do, that this is a civil case and she would have to pursue it through the courts. In other words, someone else had just purchased all of her life’s belongings and memories for pennies on the dollar.
39. If You Don’t Have Anything Good to Say, It’s Less Expensive to Stay Silent
I represented a woman whose husband had attacked her with what was essentially a broomstick, but instead of a broom at the end, there was a metal scrub brush. When the time came for trial, I figured the other attorney (an old professor of mine) was going to ask for and get a continuance. Why? Because there were pending criminal charges for the assault, and the guy can’t just remain silent in civil court as he can in criminal court.
If you refuse to answer a question in civil court, the court can take a negative inference against you. When the husband’s lawyer and I were talking prior to the hearing, he told me he was going to have the hearing today unless I was willing to drop the alimony claim. I think he took my questioning him if he wanted a continuance as an indication that I was unprepared.
Since I was prepared, I told him I was going to have the hearing, and that his client was going to be my first witness. Husband’s attorney said his client would plead the fifth, and I told him the chancellor (judge) would take a negative inference if he did. Husband’s attorney said, “The chancellor will do what the chancellor will do,” clearly trying to intimidate me into backing down on alimony.
So, when the hearing starts, husband’s attorney is looking a little miffed that I’m still pushing for alimony, and at this point, I have an assistant bring in the broken weapon used to attack my client. The wooden handle stood propped next to my desk and the scrub brush lay on it. I called husband as my first witness.
Husband’s attorney jumps up and objects that this is improper and that I have to call my client first. I tell the chancellor I’ll respond when he cites a rule (there is no such rule in this court). The chancellor smiled, turned to husband’s attorney, and asked him which rule he’s referring to. He withdraws his objection and then says his client is pleading the fifth.
I respond that this is fine, but that his client still needs to take the stand so he can invoke that on each individual question he doesn’t want to answer, so the court knows where to take a negative inference against him. The chancellor sides with me, and the husband takes the stand. So, after my warm-up questions, I ask the husband what happened on x date (the night of the assault). He contends wife had driven donuts in the yard he had been working on, and that she then got out of the car and started swearing at him.
Me: That made you angry didn’t it?
Him: It was disrespectful.
Me: That…made…you…angry, didn’t it?
Him: It would have made anyone angry.
Me (slow enough that it sounds like I’m talking to a foreign toddler): That…ma….de…YOU…an…gry…didn’t it?
Him: It sure as hell did!
Chancellor: If you swear again in this courtroom, I’ll have you arrested.
Me: You said she was disrespectful, and her actions would have made anyone angry, right?
Me: You didn’t just take that lying down, did you? (Here’s where I’m figuring he’ll plead the fifth and I’ll get my negative inference and move on, but before his lawyer can jump up to do so, the husband answers)
Him: Of course not, I hit her!
Me: You didn’t hit her with your hands, did you?
Him: No, I hit her with that stick you got over there (he actually pointed at it).
Me: You hit her more than once didn’t you?
Him: I hit her until she got the point. Probably three or four times (His lawyer is literally facepalming at this point).
Me: You hit her hard enough that the end broke off, didn’t you (I’m holding up the metal scrubber)?
Him (turning to his lawyer): Is this where I’m supposed to say I don’t want to answer cause my criminal case?
Needless to say, my client got her alimony.
40. A House Divided and Bought Under Market Value
My mother divorced my father when I was like two years old. They had bought a house together, and my dad’s family offered her fair value to buy the house from her. She denied the offer and instead she put it up for sale publicly. My dad’s family then bought it for 40% less than what they offered my mom in a public bidding auction.
41. Take a Rest From the Restroom
So, this girl I went to school with marries this rich guy from Ohio. She moves in with him, and they seem to get along well. Six months later, she files for divorce. Up to that point, all I’ve heard from her was how good it was going. Anyways, it turns out our buddy had a fetish for going off on urine. He asked her to urinate on him in the tub.
At first, she agreed to it as she thought it was a onetime thing. But he kept asking for it more and more. She tried to decline it respectfully, but he wouldn’t get any of the hints. She finally used the tub being too small as a reason. Next day she comes home with two dozen construction guys and their heavy equipment tearing the bathroom walls.
A week or so later, they finish up the bathroom. She comes home to a sign left on the fridge with a note to drink up, she got some watering to do. I don’t know what exactly she put down as the official reason in the paperwork but that was definitely her biggest reason to walk out of that relationship. Oh, I forgot to add, he also wanted to bring a horse to do the deed as well and at times, asked her to make animal sounds while she stood on top of him.
42. Just Throw out the Whole Man
My great-great-grandparents had an interesting case. He was abusive, like “pimp her out and then beat her for infidelity” levels of abuse. This was the 1910s, though, and in our state, you couldn’t initiate a divorce for cruelty. In fact, the only possible grounds for divorce was infidelity. A few times, she tried just leaving him anyway.
Once he came home from work and she, plus all eight of their kids, were just gone. But he always found them, and since they were still married, he had every right to grab the kids and go back home with them. Finally, she moved out and went to live with another man. She flaunted the new guy around town until her no-good husband got embarrassed enough to sue her for divorce on the grounds of infidelity.
Although she couldn’t read or write, she put her X on those papers the minute he served her. It was a major local scandal (very Catholic community, divorce was rare), but she got what she needed to be safe.
43. Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold, Depending on the Season…
The wife cheated on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She was the one who filed for divorce, and she got to keep the house. Months elapse and the husband is still furious, rightfully so, but has no recourse. Then he has an epiphany: “I wonder if she changed the password to the Nest Thermostat?” She did not.
For the next year, he continues to mess with the thermostat. In the middle of summer when they’re sleeping in HIS bed, he turns the heat on to 90 degrees at 3 AM. Middle of winter? Time to shut off the heat and hope the pipes freeze. Away on vacation? Turn the air conditioning down to 55 and let it run 24/7 for a nice surprise bill when they get home.
44. Show Me the Money, or Else
I’ve worked as a legal assistant for two family law attorneys for the last eight years. One of the cases that made me the angriest was a man who cheated on his wife when she had cancer. He then leaves his wife and attempts to hide all his assets while she’s undergoing chemotherapy. Fortunately, my boss is a rockstar. She teamed up with a forensic accountant, and they took him to the cleaners.
He even had to pay the forensic accountant’s bill and the attorney fees.