It’s true…divorce brings out the worst in people. But some divorces are so bad, even the lawyers are secretly hoping to lose. Here are some tragic, some funny, and some heartbreaking stories from Reddit's lawyers, clerks, and divorcees alike.
This divorce story happened to a family member. Both parties were unhappy, and mutually decided they didn't want to be married anymore. This was back in the day where it was more viable to be a single income family.
She was a homemaker for 30+ years, raising their 4 kids. He was fine with her leaving and them getting a divorce. However, he felt that she shouldn't get anything in the divorce.
In his opinion, she didn't deserve the house, or any of the cars, or any portion of the savings/retirement, because he was the one who worked. Since he was the only one who worked, every one of the assets was his to keep.
Obviously, their respective divorce lawyers, and the court, disagreed. But he only ramped up his idiocy. He went through three different lawyers, and each fired him because of his horrible attitude when they weren't able to secure the divorce judgment he wanted where he keeps everything and she gets nothing.
Then, he decided that the court wasn't allowed to pass any judgements in the case if he wasn't present. So he just stopped attending any of the hearings. Which worked the first two times.
But after rescheduling twice, the court lost patience and just ruled in her favor on every item since he wasn't there to contest anything. I'm very sure that in the end, they just followed the state's given guidelines for dividing things up.
A prospective client had severe mental health concerns and were from a heavily religious family who lived in a different state. Several years prior to this incident, they had moved to our state, and had two children with a person not from their parents' church.
They were untreated but in remission the entire time and their former partner did not know about their mental illness. Within a few years of the youngest being born, they and their former partner broke up amicably and were co-parenting successfully.
While their former partner was out on a business trip, however, the client had a breakdown. It is highly likely substances were also involved here. The results were terrifying. They locked the older child in the closet of the apartment and tried to harm the younger one.
The neighbors called the authorities and they quickly showed up. At this point, the client was in a full-blown delusional state. They ended up in the state hospital for multiple months. They plead guilty but insane on the charges, and their parents took them back to their home state for supervised treatment.
The co-parent/former partner got a protective order for the children, and later full custody at a hearing the client didn't attend, because they were still in custody and fully delusional.
Fast forward about eight years, the client shows up in my office, with grandparents in tow, because they are now “medically stable”. By which I mean medicated to the gills, and likely as a result of this is are now fully under the grandparents' control.
Anyway they/the grandparents were insistent on getting back the kids, who the client has not seen or communicated with since the incident. They were doing this because "the children need their parent and their other parent is 'living in sin' with tattoos and an unmarried partner in the house". As they continued to talk, my jaw dropped.
The "plan" was to have the client move to our state temporarily (because no court would move a child out of state when the child and the stable parent are in state), with no support system, no medical insurance, no continuity of medical care. They were then going to get custody, before secretly moving the kids back to grandparents' state.
The grandparents were confident that once the client and grandkids moved "home," their home judges would approve of it, because "we know each other from the church… it'll work out".
When I told them the law does not work that way and the client would be highly likely to be charged with custodial interference and possibly child endangerment if they tried, they became angry and started to argue with me.
I then gently told them it was time to leave and they flounced out the door yelling about how they were going to talk to someone who knows what they're doing, not some idiot like me.
I checked the court dockets for a while after that but thankfully never saw anything come of it, so I'm assuming all the domestic/relationship attorneys in town said no and they finally realized what a terrible idea this was.
Someone else in my office had a case where the family was becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. So much so, my colleague decided she wasn’t going to work for the client anymore.
I can’t remember every detail but after we stopped working for them, I think they started harassing the solicitor. Calling her multiple times a day and just being an overall nuisance. But that was just the beginning. One day, I noticed a car sitting in our parking lot for quite a while with people inside.
They were staring into the ground floor office. We quickly realized this is the problem client, and the branch manager went out to the car and told them it was a private parking lot and they were going to have to leave. There was a lot of shouting on the ex-client’s part, plus whoever was in the car with them.
But the strange part was, even though they eventually left, they filmed the entire thing as if being on private property and attempting to harass the staff was a win for them?
I’ve no idea what happened to them but I sure hope they didn’t get custody of the kids.
I had a client who had scheduled visitation with his daughter every two weeks over Skype. One day, he comes to me saying that the daughter never shows up.
I go to the other side and ask what is going on. They tell me the opposite: that the daughter waits every time and my client never shows up. I resend the schedule out to my client and the other lawyer and remind everyone to show up.
Two weeks later and my client is back telling me that his daughter didn't show up. I send the schedule to everyone again with stronger wording about showing up. The other lawyer tells me that my client is lying because the daughter has shown up every time and he has never even logged on.
Now, I’m confused. We go through this charade a few times and finally I start sending reminders to both parties about the evening's Skype session. After about the third time of sending reminders on the day of, my client emails me that it's not the right day for the Skype call.
Turns out, the idiot had been signing in on the wrong day every other week for months. He had never once bothered to check the schedule that I had repeatedly given him or read the reminders I had sent. I had felt bad that he hadn't been able to see his daughter before this but after this... not a whole lot of sympathy.
I wasn't the lawyer, but a close family member was. The couple had two kids: one healthy, one severely disabled. It was a 24-hour-a-day care, more surgeries than birthdays, will never have a normal life, might maybe possibly learn to speak a word or two eventually, will never be out of diapers type of situation.
The client's idea of the divorce was that his soon-to-be ex wife would take the disabled kid and move out of the house. It gets worse. He would keep the house and the healthy kid, and his girlfriend would move in.
He would contribute nothing to the ex wife, and nothing toward the care of the disabled kid, for the rest of his life. They would just... evaporate. Suffice to say, the judge was not impressed.
The wife got everything the judge could possibly give her. The house, the nicer car, both kids, alimony, and the maximum child support allowed by law. I think the judge would have turned the guy over his knee and spanked him if it had been possible.
It’s pretty common knowledge in our small city that one particular divorce lawyer is the “go to” if you can afford him. He has a reputation for winning cases.
Anyway, in one of his infamous stories, his client, a lady, had cheated on her husband and wanted a divorce. The husband was pretty successful, very prominent in the community, and an overall stand-up guy.
During the proceedings, the lawyer basically made it a point to make the husband look like a no-good guy, and spent days dragging him through the mud. The husband just sat there. He was quiet through it all.
Finally, it was all sorted out. And then came the revenge. The rulings were made, the gavel was hit and as they were leaving the courthouse that last day… The husband beat the heck out of his ex wife's lawyer. Not one person present raised a hand to stop him.
I’m not a lawyer, but this happened to a family member. When the divorce happened, two of the three kids were adults and the third was two years away from going to college.
The wife took half of everything, including retirement accounts. She then made him sign a divorce agreement that stated, among other things, he would keep a life insurance policy to her name as long as he lived. He was also required to pay her $11k a month throughout her life.
They were both in their early fifties when this happened, and that was almost 3 decades ago. He is still paying her.
He was a doctor and now has cancer, and most of his retirement money goes to paying her. He probably doesn’t have much time left. But the ex wife has threatened their children and said that everything he has must go to her when he goes.
The children are stuck managing his finances now and having to pay their mother every month. Still, they don’t speak to her anymore and she refuses to see her grandchildren. The whole situation is unbelievable.
One time, a wife asked me to defend her in a case where her husband accused her of buying a house in her name with his money while he was on a business trip. The wife moved into that house with her affair partner and filed for divorce.
When I finished reading the file, I asked her for her version of the facts. Her reply made my mouth hang open. She confirmed it all. With no remorse whatsoever.
I thought, "if I'm going to take this case, the pay should at least be worth the trauma of defending her". So, when she asked how much it would cost her to hire me, I gave her an amount four times what I would charge.
She never called, and to be honest? I’m glad she didn’t.
I'm a lawyer. I never hoped my divorce client would get screwed...he just kept screwing himself. AND I TOLD HIM HE WAS SCREWING HIMSELF, but he refused to listen.
There were custody fights. Protective orders. Subpoenas for text messages and allegations of infidelity on both sides. They also had lots of assets in play. The guy had a stereo installation business, so he had good margins and made good money. Legally, all was well...until my client ruined everything.
My client started giving his wife temporary maintenance payments...but he used COMPANY CHECKS. I stepped in, saying, "Hey bud, that is unwise". I explained to him that when you treat your business like a personal asset, the court will conclude it should be treated like a personal asset.
This means the court will split things 50/50. My client disagreed with my professional opinion. He believed it was important to show the court how good his business was doing.
As it turns out, the judge DID think it was important. Ultimately,the wife got a 50% share of the business' profits. Book-learnin' folks would likely consider this "hubris".
A client of mine got caught cheating on his wife. He wanted a divorce but didn’t have the courage to tell her, so he asked me to inform her he was filing for divorce. But that wasn't even the most horrific part. He had me do it two days after she had his child.
My ex was a lawyer, and the saddest case I’ve heard of was when both parties were fighting over two little kids…because neither parent wanted them.
I had a case where my client fought really hard for the dog. Then, probably in an act of revenge, he ended up turning him over to a shelter. The ex wife received an "anonymous" tip and was able to get him back quickly, thank goodness.
A client tried to justify his getting with his sister-in-law and mother-in-law by claiming it was because of "the rona".
When my ex moved out, he said he “didn’t want to continue his relationship” with the child we had adopted. Apparently, he “wanted some me time” for a few months before having to take the teenagers “maybe one weekend a month”.
Our mediation lawyer was absolutely dumbfounded. She flat out told him “I can’t go before the judge with an agreement that says you just aren’t ever going to see your kids again. That will look VERY BAD for you".
She was actually still very fair after that and he got out of it much better than I did, financially, so he can’t complain.
I’m not a lawyer, but when my parents got divorced my father suggested a Parent Trap-like arrangement, where he would get full custody of my brother and my mom would get custody of me because "It's only fair that each parent gets to keep one child, it's 50/50”.
I’m pretty sure this is impossible and even if it weren’t, no sane lawyer would ever agree to this. He actually sent that to her over text and we still have the screenshots. Mom only sent back "Are you delusional?"
This story is one of the memories my husband has of his parents' divorce.
The couple was ordered by the courts to go to family therapy so they could learn how to co-parent. They each refused. That is, until their lawyers told them that they would be held in contempt of court for not going. So, begrudgingly, they went. It turned into an utter disaster.
After only one session, the therapist concluded that the best course of action was for them to interact as little as possible. They were in no way capable of being civil, not even for the sake of their children.
The children (my husband and his sister) had to get in and out of cars as quickly as possible to keep their parents from having to be within 100 feet of each other for longer than a minute at a time. His sister even said once that their mom nearly ran her leg over trying to hurriedly run out of their dad's driveway as quickly as possible.
I certainly wasn’t “rooting” for this one client who videotaped his ex wife, without her knowledge, when she would get start drinking. HIs plan was to then use her behavior against her. It just rubbed me the wrong way.
He was also very pompous and snobby, yet would send rambling emails with numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. He grossed me out.
A client of mine didn’t mind paying child support, but wanted to make sure they couldn’t force him to see his kids. That he adopted from foster care.
A married guy was dating a woman he met on Craigslist. She’d convinced him to pay for her to get cosmetic surgery (ie, implants) so he wrote her a really big check.
During our investigation, we found out that she sold the same “job” to three different guys. When I realized it from going through her text messages, I was very impressed. In that "I am not mad, that's amazing" way.
The dude ended up marrying her later and having to pay back one of the other boyfriends.
I’m not a lawyer, but I had a friend who interned for one as an undergrad. There was a child custody case on zoom and the mom took a hit off a pipe on camera. Somehow, it got even more ridiculous.
When called out, she turned the video but not microphone off, and they could still hear her until they called her out again. Not sure what the outcome was.
I used to volunteer at an animal shelter, and there was a beautiful large dog there who barely fit in the kennel. He had been surrendered because his owners got divorced and couldn't agree on who got to keep him.
I know of a guy who, during his divorce case, didn't show up to court, but handed someone a note to give to the judge. The contents were mind-blowing. It had a long list of all of these different excuses, many of which contradictory, as to why he couldn't go to court that day.
The reasons ranged from: broken back and can't drive, picking someone up from the airport, all the way to “my mom is sick". His mom was in the room.
When my sister finally decided to divorce her ex, he went from being mean and petty to her and the kids to being even worse. Not only did it take months to get him to move out of the house, he actually told people he was only trying to get custody of the kids to hurt her.
He didn't actually want custody of his kids and made plans to dump them off at his parents’ house most of the time. He would pick fights with her and would call the authorities at the drop of a hat. This happened so much the officers once pulled him aside and told him to stop trying to use them to negotiate his divorce.
I’m not a lawyer, but I’ve been divorced twice. At the first divorce hearing, as my lawyer was listing the details of the split financially, he got to the part where she would have to get her own health insurance. Apparently, this was the tipping point for her.
She started crying and yelling about it being unfair. Her own lawyer looked at her and said (for everyone to hear) “What did you think was going to happen? You kick him out of the house and keep all the benefits without him being there? That’s not how it works".
I once had a case where my client and his wife got into a heated battle concerning who would receive the collection of Axis-power China and memorabilia from WWII. The judge’s parents were Holocaust survivors with relatives who didn’t make it. Guess who didn’t walk away with custody.
I’m not a lawyer, but when I was divorcing my ex-wife, she was demanding all kinds of ridiculous things. The funniest of which being that on top of child support, I had to pay for the portion of daycare when the kids were with me.
For example, in the 4 weeks I get during the summer, I had to pay for daycare for that time period. If I had them on Fridays or Mondays or any other extra weekdays, I had to pay her at the end of the month for those days I sent them to daycare (or after school care).
Her lawyer had to repeatedly tell her she can't ask for things like that because that's what child support is for. He was more than fed up with her by the end of our case. All I could do was give a look to the lawyer like "welcome to my world".
I’ve had clients ask me to use their kids as leverage for more money. I never do it, but it’s hard for me to forget they asked.
I was a paralegal on a case where two oil-industry heirs were fighting over their kids.
Each was saying the other parent was causing emotional harm to the children as a way to get attention. Neither parent worked but they each pulled in $100,000 A MONTH in trust money. The craziest part? The children were 15 and 12 and the parents had been litigating since they were born.
I met a guy who was getting out of the Air Force three months shy of retirement “so his ex-wife wouldn’t get half of his retirement”.
I asked him, “So, both of you get nothing? No money, medical?”
He confidently said “Yeah, screw her! She ain’t getting nothing!”. He was very proud.
Custody was over a pet parrot. The couple was to share custody for as long as it lived (parrots typically live a long time) but neither were allowed to teach the parrot to swear at the other.
My ex had 7 lawyers during our divorce proceedings. The first 6 fired her. We finally got to trial day and started negotiations. This was something she had refused to do up until that point.
Her lawyer would shuttle back and forth between us and her. At one point, we were talking about a couple of points and he blurted out “Screw her, you can have them, she’ll never know the difference".
He said only took her because she paid a very heavy fee up front. But there was a kicker. We later found out that she did that by getting a new credit card with a pretty high limit, and then declaring bankruptcy the next week.
I’m not a lawyer, but a guy I worked with got sick and needed an organ transplant. His wife was a match but he was too high risk for the surgery. He quit drinking and every bad habit. He got in shape and was able to get the surgery with his wife donating the organ.
After the transplant and newly glowed-up...he divorced his wife for a younger hottie.
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 other site he could think of.
She was bombarded by people contacting her about her interest in their product/services. He even put out ads on Craigslist with her information.
The kicker is that she actually went out with a guy who contacted her!
A couple came in for divorce consultation. I informed them I could only represent and advise one of them, and since the wife called first I would represent her.
He furiously storms out. I had no idea what was about to happen. Two days later, he hides in the bushes outside the house where she is staying. When she leaves to go to work, he jumps out and fatally attacks her. Two small kids in the house. Terrible.
In one of my cases, on the day of a divorce trial involving adultery grounds, the opposing counsel produces photos of my male client (the husband) wearing lingerie and a long brown wig while he's with another dude.
I successfully exclude this from evidence on the grounds of relevance…because the wife was the photographer.
I once represented a client from a divorcing couple who still lived together pending the sale of the family home. Even though they cohabitated, they would not speak to one another for any reason whatsoever.
I had to negotiate terms with opposing counsel for the sharing of refrigerator space.
When I worked for a firm while in college, we had a client who had just come home from a two-week vacation with his wife...only to be served with divorce papers and a temporary restraining order as soon as they pulled in the driveway.
The wife didn't say a word and just went into their house. The poor guy came straight to our office and was massively confused, to say the least.
The husband and wife were still living together at the time and had a small confrontation. The husband pulls a "Idiot says what?'' on her and she takes the bait and says "what?"
He giggled like a little kid. She then told her lawyer, who had to talk to his lawyer. His lawyer asked him if he called his wife a name and told him he's not allowed to call her that anymore.
I once represented a husband divorcing his wife of 35+ years. They were both in their late 60s. At mediation, they divided up about a half million in assets within 30 minutes. Then they spent two and a half hours fighting over two hurricane glasses from Pat O'Brien's and a pitchfork.
Mediator: "She really wants that pitchfork. It was a gift from her daddy".
Husband: "That...LIAR! We bought it at Home Depot two years ago!"
They settled at mediation after spending over $1,000 in attorney fees combined for the glasses and pitchfork. And then they remarried 3 months later.
I’m not a lawyer, but as a courthouse clerk, I once saw a court order come across my desk that explicitly banned a father from playing Minecraft with his son over the internet. The ex-wife alleged that the in-game chat was a form of improper contact that wasn't outlined in their custody/visitation plan.
The child, a 10 year old girl, of my client (the father) thanked me after the custody battle against the out-of-control alcoholic mother. The court had awarded full custody to the father. The child said to me that I was "a lawyer for kids". I never forgot the compliment, even though that was 30 years ago.
My client had a son named Snoop Frog and neither parent wanted custody.
In this Korean divorce story, my friend wanted a divorce from his wife. Now, one thing about Korean divorce law is that there is no alimony or anything.
It's also fairly male friendly, especially if no kids are involved. There can be settlements where a party has to pay X amount, but the only way a spouse can get a guaranteed sum of money is if the spouse has increased the net worth of the other spouse.
So, let's say you're a wife and you marry your husband, who has a small company. If with your involvement, the husband grows the company from $50,000 a year to $5,000,000, you can sue your husband for a portion of that $5,000,000.
Anyway, my friend married his wife and they were married for 4 years. Things just weren't working out, so he decided to move out and they started the divorce process.
My friend was a good man and continued to support her throughout the process. He paid her rent and all of her bills. My friend had offered her $20,000 as a one-time settlement (this was a HUGE CHUNK of money to him) but the wife was greedy and angrily demanded $30,000.
She wouldn’t budge, so they went to court and had their cases presented. The husband said he was willing to give the woman $20,000 in return for a divorce. The wife demanded $30,000 as compensation.
The lawyers argued that the husband had gone above and beyond with supporting his wife even after separation and it was unfair to demand more. The judge asked the woman if she would accept $20,000 the woman replied no. This was her final mistake.
The judge ruled "Then it will be $0 and the divorce is finalized". He stomped his gavel and it was done. When my buddy walked out of the courthouse, the wife stormed at him. He filed assault charges against her and successfully won a $3,000 settlement from her.
My grandpa was a family law attorney in Los Angeles in the 70s who had a pretty memorable case.
He was representing the wife during the divorce. One day, he had a court hearing in front of a judge. During the recess, in front of the courthouse, the ex-husband pulled a weapon on my grandpa. My grandpa ducked and dodged around a tree for a bit but was still shot three times in the stomach.
He spent a few months in the hospital and pulled through. He claims to be the reason that metal detectors were installed in courthouses.
I represented the husband. I tried to get the court to eliminate his spousal support obligations, but the wife insisted she needed the support. This process took way longer than it should have because she was regularly taking vacations to Mexico. And by regularly I mean at least once a month.
I’m a divorcee, not a lawyer, but I remember the blank stare from the lawyer I was paying $250 an hour when I told him our biggest marital asset was our $10,000 Magic the Gathering card collection.
I read about the divorce of Thomas and Denise Rossi. I am not connected to the case but it was a notorious case that resulted in a published California Court of Appeal opinion, which means that all the details are public record.
Denise Rossi won over a million as part of a group of co-workers who joined a lottery pool together. 11 days later she filed for divorce and moved out. She never mentioned the winning lottery ticket to Thomas. Then she got really shady. She also did not disclose the proceeds as either her separate property or as community property during the divorce.
And she would have gotten away with it too, if it hadn't been for the letter that was sent to the marital residence over two years after the divorce had been finalized. The letter was an offer to buy out Denise's lottery annuity with a lump sum payment.
Thomas promptly lawyered up and the family court awarded 100% of the prize proceeds to Thomas.
I had a case where the husband's statement of property listed all the food in the kitchen since the date of separation, complete with estimated values for each item. So, "Campbell's vegetable soup - 79 cents".
I once had a husband and wife go toe-to-toe over an ashtray they got in Vegas (although, strangely enough, neither smoked). 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. I even mentioned that he could give me $2,500 and I would fly to Vegas for the weekend and get him an identical one instead.
He said he didn't care about the costs. He had an evil plan. He intended to smash it on the courthouse steps in front of her if we won. We won and he followed through with the smashing.
He laughed and said the look on her face was worth much more than $2,500. People get crazy in divorce proceedings!
My brother is a divorce attorney. In his most memorable case, he was representing a guy in a divorce custody battle who was accused of child mistreatment. Very detailed depositions from the young kids against daddy. Things looked grim. But there was a massive twist.
My brother, who is a failed actor, notices that the deposition transcript (done by social workers under oath) contains a question at the end from one of the kids: "Did I hit my marks?"
He, obviously, wonders how little kids know about acting jargon. He then subpoenas the wife's personal checking account during discovery, and sure enough, acting lessons.
He deposes an extremely sketchy "acting coach," and the panicked coach produces DVDs of "practice interrogations" with the kids. There were hours of coaching the kids on exactly what imaginary things to say about daddy.
My brother says it was his one and only "Perry Mason moment" in 20+ years of practice. The dad got sole custody of the kids.
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