Divorce Lawyers Talk About The Worst Way A Client Has Screwed Over Their Spouse.
These divorced couples take being PETTY to a whole new level- just ask the following divorce lawyers who share some of their most memorable cases and clients.
Source list available at the end.
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 pornographic site he could think of. She was bombarded with people contacting her about her interest in their product/services.
He even put out ads for sex partners on Craigslist with her information. The kicker is, she actually went out with a guy who contacted her!
If I learned anything from being a divorce attorney (I no longer practice), it's that if the opposing party sounded like a nutcase, I would soon see the nutcase come out of my own client. Normal people don't just accidentally marry unstable individuals.
I had a husband and wife go toe-to-toe over an ashtray they got in Vegas at some point (Neither of them smoked strangely enough). They spent nearly $5,000 for me and another attorney to duke it out in court over the silly thing. Prior to the proceeding, I explained what the cost would be like to argue over something so silly. I even said that he could give me $2500, 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 because 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 so much more than $2500.
I once represented a client from a divorcing couple who still lived together pending the sale of the family home, but they would not speak to one another for any reason whatsoever. I had to negotiate terms with the opposing counsel all the way down to the sharing of the refrigerator space.
I worked at a law firm while in college. We had a client who had just come home from a 2 week vacation with his wife, only to be served with divorce papers and a temporary restraining order as soon as they pulled into the driveway. The wife didn't say a word and just went into the house. Poor guy came straight to our office and was massively confused (to say the least).
My brother is a divorce attorney. His most memorable case was representing a guy in a divorce custody battle who was accused of horrific child abuse. The whole thing was very graphic with very detailed depositions from the young kids against their dad. Things looked grim.
Then my brother, who was also a failed actor, noticed the deposition transcript (done by social workers under oath) contained a question at the end from one of the kids, "Did I hit my marks?" He wondered how these little kids would have known about acting jargon. Subpoenas wife's personal checking act during discovery, sure enough, was acting lessons.
I deposed an extremely sketchy "acting coach," and the panicked coach produced DVDs of "practice interrogations" with the kids. This was hours of coaching the kids on exactly what imaginary things to say about their dad.
He said it was his one and only "Perry Mason moment" in 20+ years of practice. The dad did get sole custody of the kids.
The husband's statement of property listed all of the food in the kitchen as of the date of their separation, complete with estimated values for each item (Campbell's vegetable soup - $0.79).
Twenty plus years as a divorce lawyer, and I've seen it all.
I once represented a husband divorcing his wife of thirty-five plus years. They were in their late 60s. At mediation, they divided up about a half million in assets within 30 minutes. Then, they spent 2.5 hours fighting over two hurricane glasses from Pat O'Brien's and a pitchfork.
Mediator: "She really wants that pitchfork. It was a gift from her dad."
Husband: "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.
They remarried three months later.
My aunt has been divorced for quite sometime. She drove her attorney mad with her requests/demands. Most recently, she took her husband to court over:
1) He switched the beneficiary of his life insurance policy from her (the ex-wife) to their children.
2) She wanted him to take court-ordered drug tests weekly. She found out from her friend, who worked at the pharmacy, that he had quite a few narcotic prescriptions, but that obviously couldn't be entered as evidence or the friend would have been fired.
3) She wanted to know the days he was working and locations, so she could have her private investigator keep an eye out and make sure that the new girlfriend wasn't joining him at hotels that he was charging on his work card.
At some point, she just needed to let it go and move on. She got the house (and the house payments), the kids, the boat, and the Marriott points. He doesn't have to pay alimony or child support, so it seems like everything did work out well.
My mom worked in divorce court. She came home with stories that were interesting, sad, funny, and sometimes just plain weird. My favorite one was about a voicemail that was played in court as evidence. The wife was cheating on the guy. The voicemail was from the husband to the wife: "Hey, I know you're there. The only reason you can't answer is because I know you can't speak with that guy's penis in your mouth!"
I worked on a child welfare case where one of the parent's shaved his entire body after the court-ordered hair follicle test. He insisted (with a straight face) that it was just something he had planned on doing for a long time now and that it had nothing to do with the drug testing.
My client's husband cheated on her with another woman, and he took some photographs of the, ahem, penetration. She found the pictures on the husband's computer, but his face was not in any of them. So during a deposition, I had to ask him if the penis in the photographs belonged to him, and he said he wasn't sure. When I pressed him on why he couldn't identify his own penis, he claimed that exposure to agent orange in Vietnam caused him to have memory problems.
I'm a real estate lawyer, but a friend of a friend of mine is a divorce lawyer. I was once told a story where said lawyer was brutally attacked by a client's former spouse. Apparently, the former spouse blamed the divorce attorney for "taking him to the cleaners" in the divorce. The worst part is, the lawyer was at the grocery store doing his weekly food shopping with his wife and kids when he was savagely beaten. Criminal lawyers work with the worst people on their best behavior, and family lawyers work with the best people on their worst behavior.
I'm not a divorce lawyer, but when I was at a mediation a few months ago, the mediator was telling me about a divorce he mediated a few years back. It was your classic "Rich guy sick of his wife and kids and wanted a divorce to run off with a younger and more attractive woman."
His wife wanted blood. She came to the mediation with some pretty outrageous demands about the money and property that she would receive. The mediator pushed hard throughout a long day of mediation, but she hadn't budged an inch. Finally, very late in the day, the husband threw up his hands and said, "Give her everything she's asking for and let us be done with this."
The mediator went back to the wife's conference room to share the good news that the husband had caved, and she FLIPPED OUT- glowing incandescent with rage at the idea that her husband was willing to pay a truly insane compensation to be done with her and ride off with his little girlfriend.
I was sitting in the lobby of the courthouse while my parents were in the courtroom getting divorced. The couple before my parents came out of the courtroom and were consulting with their lawyers on opposite sides of the (very large) lobby. The woman and her lawyer decided, for some reason, to stop and talk directly in front of me. She was completely wild with rage. Her lawyer finally got her to be quiet for a minute and explained to her that her husband was offering her a settlement in which she would get the house, the car, all of the money, all of the retirement savings, full custody of their kids, the child support she was asking for, the alimony she had asked for, all of the possessions, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING, and all he wanted was his clothes, a few dishes, and the microwave. The lawyer told her that she'd better take this offer because she certainly wasn't going to get anything better. The husband made it clear that if there were any arguments about this, he was going to fight tooth and nail for everything because he was already offering her this so that he could walk away, and if she made him go through a court battle over these few merger things, then he was going to make her pay.
She started screaming in rage,"THAT'S MY MICROWAVE! HE CAN'T HAVE MY MICROWAVE!" The lawyer told her to be quiet and take the offer because she could go and buy another microwave for less than the cost of the time that he would bill her for even having this discussion. But no, she returned to screaming, "MY MICROWAVE! HE CAN'T HAVE MY MICROWAVE!" and demanded that they go back into court and battle it out for the damn microwave, no matter the cost.
Divorce lawyer here. The worst incident I can think of was when I had to represent my client who had to be transported from the jail for (allegedly) violating the restraining order between the two of them.
There was another one that was technically a dissolution of domestic partnership (Not a divorce, but essentially the same thing for never married parties) that was fairly intense. The client alleged her ex had killed a man and reported it to the police, but I guess they never found the body. She also alleged that his attorney was sleeping with him.
One of my co-workers had a case where the ex was awarded the couples' dog, only to have it euthanized, all so the other person would suffer more.
A friend of mine, who is a lawyer, told me a pretty ridiculous story about a wealthy couple splitting up. The woman hid millions of dollars overseas and cut up all of her husband's clothing with a pair of scissors. These shenanigans caused her to almost get nothing.
Family law paralegal here. One time, we worked really hard on a woman's case because her husband had gotten on a bus to Mexico with her kids. We expedited everything. I went above and beyond for this woman by contacting attorneys in the Deep South of MX and writing out very clear instructions to get back her kids. It turns out, our client had stabbed her husband because he confronted her about sleeping with his brother. The husband packed up and took the kids.
My father did divorce law for many years.
We were in Virginia Beach for a tournament, and I was in with a friend of mine and his father. This was back around '07.
My dad got a call from a forensic accountant that he had hired to track down some accounts his client knew her husband stashed money in. He was asked to pull over and put him on speaker because he would not believe what he was about to tell him. The accountant traced all of his money to three bank accounts totalling over $300 million in another country.
My friend's father screamed. My father dropped his phone, and there were numerous "WTFs!" from the back seat.
My father's client made out with two of the three accounts, and they walked away silently. He was paid in full, given a small bonus, and has never heard from her again.
I had a client who was being sued by her child's father for custody and child support. He had a weapons charge and drug charge on his recent record. My client, the mother, was clean. During cross examine, I asked him about those charges, and if he was subjected to a test- would he pass? He answered in the affirmative. The judge, upon request from the counsel (me) had the sheriff's office administer a test for both. The father failed and my client passed. The judge awarded my client, who was the mother, custody and child support.
My client, who was the husband, was living in the same house as his wife throughout proceedings. He'd call me and complain about things like: how his wife ate a bag of chips and didn't go to the store to replace it, his wife invited one of her friends over who he HATED, his wife binge-watched T.V. shows on Netflix instead of fixing dinner, and numerous other complaints about her "lack of a moral compass." He also paid me $250 per hour to do this.
I saw a mother and father live together and fight over the location of the Xbox and Wii. The games were in the family living room. The father took the games from the living room and put them in his bedroom. The children then spent all of the time in the father's bedroom. The mother literally went to court to obtain an order that the Xbox and Wii be returned to the living room. They spent thousands on this.
Posts are edited for clarity.
When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.
These are those stories.