Divorce Lawyers Admit The Pettiest Ways People Have Screwed Over Their Spouses
Marriage isn't easy but divorce is hard. On the couple. Their families. Kids. Even dogs. As well intentioned as both parties are, it can devolve quickly and often leads to deeply personal attacks.
Reddit user inkonskin asked:
Here are some of the craziest answers.
Not a lawyer.
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. Dad had great idea, pay a hitman $15k to take out soon to be ex-wife. Dad goes through with it, idiot actually pays undercover cop the money. Dad then flys back to Canada (home) and wait for results. International task force is formed to try and detain him.
Geraldo Rivera covers story, idiot dad gets arrested in Toronto and flown back to California. In this process, I was 3 in care of family back down south, mother in protection by police. Dad's family apparently wealthy gets good lawyer is charged with 17 felonies... can't remember how many he was convicted of. He gets 18 months. After all of this mom still had to sue for divorce, it took 2 years.
24. Pure Spite, USA
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.
23. All's Well That Ends ShellGiphy
Dude cheated on his gf with her best friend and the two of them decided to get together, so they sat down with the original gf to inform her - she asked to have the apartment she and her bf had lived in (which was admittedly a lovely apartment), but was told that ex-bf and ex-bff intended to start living there together basically as soon as she'd finished moving out. She conceded, and asked to have it to herself for a weekend instead, just to move her stuff out and have some time to herself before she'd move out temporarily.
The exes agree, and that weekend the ex-gf proceeds to enjoy some bottles of wine, some seafood- and then stuffs the curtain rods with every leftover she has, plus her ex's favorite treat: caviar (she left a can of the stuff in the fridge). Afterwards, the exes move in and proceed to make it their little love-pad, but it doesn't take long for them to realize something's amiss (although it takes them a while to realize it's the stench that's steadily growing stronger), and from there on cracks start appearing in their relationship.
In the end, the ex-bf gets back in contact with the scorned ex-gf, and he sells her the much coveted apartment for a fraction of the original price (bonus: he had the whole place renovated in an attempt to find the source of the smell, so she got an awesome deal out of it). He couldn't figure out why she kept cracking up when she came to pick up the keys, nor her preoccupation with the curtain rods (he had put new ones in for the sale)
22. Please Let Me Live
I currently have a client who makes a sizeable salary, north of $200k/yr. His spouse has separated but will not leave the matrimonial home, despite her overtures that she wants to become independent.
She has actively depleted the joint back account of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which she has siphoned into personal bank accounts and she uses to finance her lifestyle of expensive yoga classes, buying luxury purses and shoes, eating at fine dining establishments and spending recklessly to deplete her net family property.
She was literally taking every penny that he deposited from his paycheque on the advice of her lawyer, which she then used to pay for her lawyer. He was literally financing opposing counsel. That has now stopped.
She will not allow him to see the kids when he comes home from work, or even read them bedtime stories.
She refused to allow him to take his sons to see their grandfather in hospital, who passed away shortly thereafter, and she continues to alienate the children from the paternal aunts and grandmother. She has no extensive family that still speaks to her.
Both her and her counsel are bloodthirsty.
Even though they signed a prenup, she wants to take half of the 2.5 million dollar home, wants full custody of the kids, and wants him to pay her $8,000 a month in spousal support.
She could work full time earning as much as $95,000/yr, but she'd rather live life like a real housewife of Toronto.
I just took this file on, but it has the makings of a nasty divorce already. I want nothing more than to take her and her counsel down hard. Files like this make my blood boil, because sometimes other lawyers take stupidly aggressive positions to force the matter into litigation. Perhaps, I'll provide an update in the near future.
21. A Dog-Gone NightmareGiphy
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 probably 200 yards separating both home sites, so that the back 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 at the dog. 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.
20. Emotional Manipulation
My mom was a real piece of work in this department. My mother is mentally unstable and was very abusive to me as a child. When my father finally moved out and asked for a divorce I was luckily old enough (13) to legally decide who I wanted to live with. I, of course, chose my dad and that enraged my mother. By court order, she was allowed to live in our 4 bedroom house while me and my dad had to move in with my aunt into a two bedroom house. We lived there for 4 years while my mom did everything she could to slow down the divorce proceedings.
During this period my father was court ordered to pay the mortgage and utilities on the house my mother was living in. She would leave all the lights on and crank the heat with the widows open just to drive the utility bills up. She once left the garden hose on for a week into a drain to even make the Water bill outrageous. When it was finally all over and she had taken my dad for as much as she could she decided to sue him for my college fund.
I called her and told her if she went through with it I would never speak to her again. She told me if I wanted it I needed to move in with her before I turned 18 so she could get child support from my dad. I refused, she won the case for the money and my dad had to use most of what was left of the fund to pay for her lawyers costs.
19. The Phantom Of The Law FirmGiphy
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 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 7 different lawyers, the judge said this 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.
18. Smells Like Bad Karma
I'm am accountant. Had a client hide Ziploc bags of ground meat throughout the house (in air vents, the attic, behind water heater etc.)
I think it was at least 20-30 bags that took months to find all of them.
17. Just To Be MeanGiphy
Not a divorce lawyer, but my father went through the process recently. Amounts of money aren't the real concern. The assets must be split as close to 50/50 as possible. So the contention generally comes in the form of inequitable distribution of one-of-a-kind things.
My father had a precious set of old, inexpensive kitchenware that his late mother gave him before he even married my mother. When the divorce went to mediation and she told the mediator that she wanted those pots and pans, she got them. She got them because she was willing to give up something else of equal monetary value (so, something worth less than $10), and was willing to sit in mediation for hours, racking up thousands in lawyer fees for both sides, until my father consented. Again, an even financial trade, but a sentimental trade of overwhelming disparity.
16. Turning The Tables
Not a lawyer, but I met with a scummy one when I was looking to get a divorce. The first lawyer I met with, who had been recommended by a coworker as an amazing divorce attorney, suggested that, if I wanted full custody, I should make sure people knew the relationship was abusive. Tell my friends/family, make sure the neighbors heard me screaming, document every bruise even if I wasn't sure it came from him.
Thing is, my relationship wasn't abusive and I'd already told her that multiple times. She never outright said I should fabricate evidence or anything, but she ignored my repeated statements that there was no abuse and kept on with her detailed instructions of how to document any abuse that might happen. I got the distinct impression that she was letting me know how to create an abusive relationship out of thin-air in order to get custody of my kids.
I ended up not using her as an attorney, for obvious reasons, and in the end my ex and I shared 50/50 physical and legal custody of our children and raised them together despite whatever issues we had with each other. I can't help but wonder, though, how many dads lost a relationship with their kids because of her zealous coaching.
15. Special DeliveryGiphy
A friend of mine in high school worked at a pizza place. One of the delivery drivers was just ridiculously smart when I talked to him. Later I found out that he use to be a nuclear physicist. His wife was also a nuclear physicist, but left him for her lawyer.
He got screwed out of his kids, most of the assets, and had to pay a lot towards alimony/child support. He did the math, and figured out the tips he didn't get taxed on plus his minimum wage delivering pizza was more than keeping his job as a nuclear physicist. Plus he got a little satisfaction not having to pay her as much. The guy was really nice. I always felt bad for him.
14. Shattered Pieces Of Life
When I practised family law, I often worked with a woman who ran a battered women's shelter. She would attend court to give moral and practical support to some of our clients. There's a lot of waiting around in family court in the UK and so I got to hear a lot of her own story. Her husband had, apparently, been a nightmare of a man. She did always say, though, that she often gave as good as she got.
She waited until he was unconscious on the sofa and stole all the money so she could leave him. Before she left, she stripped the mattress sheet off their bed. She took a full-length mirror, laid it down his side of the bed and replaced the sheet. Then, she took a hammer, smashed the mirror to pieces and straightened the sheets again so it wouldn't be visible to her drunk husband when he finally fell onto what was now a bed of broken glass covered by a thin cotton sheet.
13. Safety DepositGiphy
I worked on bank equipment, my favorite was opening safety deposit boxes for the bank. Do I was asked to get there before the bank opened which was odd. I show up and greet the bank employee along with a lawyer and a very angry looking woman.
I get the lock open and swing the door open as the angry woman shouts "let me in there!" And I step outside the vault. She storms off, but she threw down a piece of paper that said "F*** you, Courtney."
It had been a nasty divorce and the ex husband got there before she did.
12. A Car Story
Story from my parents who are lawyers. So 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 3 hours everyday 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.
My wife's parents had a really bitter divorce. Her dad was starting to suffer from dementia and her mom is disabled. They were well off, however her dad made a series of life decisions that easily cost them over half their wealth (had a house built right before the recession, tried selling their old one after the recession hit, then moved out of their new house within 3 years and took another massive hit on that). He was also let go from the job he had and was unable to keep any new jobs as he was suffering from mental issues.
It was basically each other's goal to leave the other side with nothing and so what little resources they had ended up sunk in legal costs. While her dad definitely did things out of spite, considering less than 5 years later he's in a home with dementia and doesn't remember anyone, I'm a little more sympathetic to him since who can really say how much the mental issues were affecting him during the divorce. Her mom though was straight up spiteful for the sake of spite. When her dad tried collecting disability because of OCD she fought him the whole way. When he filled out the financial disclosures she dumped thousands of dollars trying to allege he had offshore bank accounts.
The real victim here is my wife. The process definitely exacerbated and accelerated her dad's mental decline. Her mom came out the winner I guess you'd say, but after all the bills were paid, she has less than probably 25% of what they started out with when they initiated the divorce proceedings. She now lives with us in an in-law suit, living off disability and unable to touch any of the money she won in the divorce because it counts as income against the government assistance she gets for having MS. Both her parents lost the last somewhat functional years of their lives consumed by just fighting each other in the divorce.
10. Wistful Life
I'm not a divorce lawyer, but 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 paint work.
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.
9. In A World...
My ex-wife gave me all my Blu-Rays back, which was nice. A year later I realized she had removed one disc from each of the Trilogy box sets.
8. No MercyGiphy
Bad seperation, 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.
7. Flight Plan
I did some consulting work for two divorce attorneys when I was in grad school.
Their client was a career airline pilot. His wife worked part time so there was a huge income disparity. It was an ugly divorce.
During the process but before the final decree, tax time rolled around. The wife's attorney calls my guys and says, "Her accountant just called. If they can just share their W-2's and file jointly, they each stand to save about $8000 over married filing separately."
My guys took that info to the husband. He says, "Losing $8,000 is going to be way worse for her than it will be for me." Cold as ice, man.
6. A Dish Best Served ColdGiphy
Not a lawyer but got divorced. During divorce proceedings, when we didn't live together anymore, my wife filed a frivolous police report saying that I 'threatened' her. In the police report, she wrote my apartment's address as her place of residence. A court immediately issued a restraining order against me, prohibiting me from being in my apartment (that I rented).
While the restraining order was active (several months) I had to live in hotels and Airbnbs, which of course is 2x-3x of normal rent, without having access to my clothes and other stuff. I also was paying the rent for the apartment that was empty all that time (she never actually went there during that restraining order, even though she claimed it as her residence). The restraining order was lifted as the case was dismissed after she never provided any evidence or even testimony to DA.
I didn't sign lease extension in time during this process because I had no information how long the restraining order will be for; even though it was lifted right before my lease expired, I ended up having to move (and pay a broker fee).
Of course this also delayed divorce proceedings because we couldn't communicate while the restraining order was active.
Besides that, she refused to sign tax form for "married filing jointly". I ended up filing as "married filing separately", which meant quite a few thousand dollars extra in payment to IRS.
5. Too Far
My ex and I separated before the divorce. She agreed to watch the dog while I found a new place.
She had the dog put down instead.
4. Reality Check, PleaseGiphy
My dad divorced his first wife and promptly took his name off of all the credit cards. She proceeded to buy all kinds of s*** thinking she'd stick him with the bill.
She was not happy to hear she was the only one on the account.
3. Dead Debt
I had a co-worker once where the wife racked up well over 150k in credit card debt right before she divorced him! He worked overtime for literally the rest of his life just to be able to survive. Unfortunately he died from a heart attack, probably due to all the stress that she left him with!
2. You Be The JudgeGiphy
When the court is looking at assets and splitting them, they will take into account the current assets and each party can argue for why they should get some things over others. A big part of that is who the property was originally bought for.
In my parents case, my mother listed all of the assets she could think of an overvalued them. 10 year old stereo system? The value was listed as the price it was originally purchased for.
One thing she did was value the antiques they owned as far over what they were actually worth. I only found that out because I had the antiques appraised for my father, and I coincidentally went to the same appraiser my mother had gone to.
Anyways, what you try and do is create as much on paper value for the property as you can, and then argue that you shouldn't get any of the property (or should only get the liquid property). This creates a huge imbalance because one person takes on property that is extremely overvalued and not liquid but on paper it will look like a 50% split.
For example, husband bets $100k in assets (antiques, etc) actually worth $25k, wife gets $100k in cash.
How this is allowed to happen, I don't know, but it does.
The judge in my parents case went further. There was real estate that needed to be divided up. The judge gave my father one piece of real estate on which the market value was much less than the one he gave my mom. The judge justified it by saying that he used potential market value in the future to make it equitable.
That is, my mom got the property worth $1mil today, and my dad got one worth $500k - and the judge called it fair because according to him the $500k property could be worth $1mil in the future.
My dad appealed that all the way to the Supreme Court and it was overturned, you can't just make up a future value, you have to use current market value.
What's even crazier is that judge can impute income on people to support the alimony they are ordered to pay. Presumably this is to prevent people from stopping working to get out of paying alimony. The problem is that it can be abused easily by bad judges.
My dad made the vast majority of his money from a lawsuit his company was involved in. It was a single, one time multi-million dollar distribution he received.
The judge used all of the money he made + what he made in that lawsuit to determine what his income was for the purposes of alimony.
My dad was making about $100k a year from his salary and distribution from investments.
The judge imputed $400k a year income for the purposes of alimony, which meant my dad was paying literally every dollar he made to my mom in alimony.
You are only allowed to dispute that number after a year, and only once a year.
After the original judges order was overturned by the supreme court, my dad got a much more reasonable judge who was actually going to try and make an equitable decision. My mother saw the writing on the wall, and together with my dad we offered her a bunch of money as a settlement because she had already sapped 5 years of our lives litigating the divorce and putting our dad through hell. She took the settlement and my dad is now free of any obligations to her.
I forgot to mention that the judge also gave my dad all of the debt and my mother none of it. Debt that he took on while they were married to start the company that eventually allowed him to make all of the money to buy all of the stuff my mom ended up getting in the settlement.
1. No Comment
Not a lawyer, but when I was a kid my parents got divorced. My mom met a guy on the internet and left my dad for him. My sisters and I were all teenagers and being that my mom had never really been around decided that we all wanted to live with him. We all had to write a letter stating our wishes and it was understood that we would stay with him - my mom didn't even seem to care.
Additionally, my dad had this retirement account from his old job - he wasn't rich at all and had worked his butt off for everything he'd ever had. When he got hurt on the job he could have sued, but was promised that in exchange for him not suing, they'd keep him around. Instead they canned him and he left with about $100k (I think) in a 401-k type account that he'd been saving for nearly 30 years.
Lastly, my dad had his house. It was a 3 bedroom, 1 bath brick house that was all of about 800 SF. It wasn't much at all, but my dad loved the place. My mom couldn't stand that house and wanted to move for as long as I could remember - that was another contentious subject that led to the divorce. He'd been paying on it forever and when he left his old job, he took out a small chunk and paid it off.
Anyway, their separation is progressing and it's understood we're living with him. She was so in love with this internet guy that she didn't care. He was in school halfway around the country and she was going to move there to be with him; we knew we'd get by just fine. They seemed amicable and it was understood how this would all play out.
The day in court finally comes and instead of what we all assumed, even my dad's lawyer - she goes to the court with all these crazy claims. He was an abusive alcoholic, he was crazy and no one would be safe in his care. My mom got full custody, she got 50% of his house and 50% of his retirement account. My dad was stunned - that judgement would basically bankrupt him - in order for him to keep the house, he'd essentially have to clean out his retirement account and give her everything.
The night of their divorce I went over to see him. He was almost catatonic - he just stared off in space the entire time and would mumble whenever I asked him a question. I've never seen anyone like that ever. My birthday was 2 days away and I asked if he wanted to do something for my birthday and he just answered with "your mom has full custody. I will if she allows me to see you." I asked if I could drive his old truck to school, since I didn't yet have a car and he just said no, that I needed to call my mom and have her pick me up. So that's what I did.
And the next day in school, the day before my birthday, I'm sitting in our lunchroom when I hear "hey, isn't that your grandpa?" From a buddy of mine. I look over and see my grandpa and a cop making their way across the lunchroom toward me. They told me to grab my stuff and in the office I found my sister there as well. We rode home with them, where we were also met by my little sister and that's where they told us that our dad had ended it, shortly after I left the previous night.
To make matters worse, it all happened so quickly that nothing had been finalized. My mom dropped all her paperwork and legally became a widow and got everything - house, retirement and his insurance policy. She also got social security benefits for us, a fact we didn't find out until much later. She basically took all the money and moved across the country with her new man, leaving us to care for ourselves for the most part.
And to this day, when asked about raising us, she'll spin this story of a young widow, doing her best to raise three kids on her own..