Divorce is something most people never plan for when they get married, yet it is responsible for end of 50% of all marriages. Some break-ups are amicable; others, not so much. Divorce lawyers have a lot of childish behavior to deal with when working with clients who are no longer in love. These divorce lawyers took to Reddit to share the stories of the most outrageous reasons people decided to end their marriage. Content has been edited for clarity.
"This happened about seven years ago.
She was kidnapped in Mexico, and he refused to pay ransom. He wasn’t with her on the trip. She was traveling with cousins and went downstairs alone to get ice cream and she was taken while waiting for them to get ready. I do not know all the details. She was extremely distraught talking about it and it was not necessary to pry. It was clearly traumatic and even tough I had a million more questions I left it alone.
Eventually her family managed to pay, and she was left on the side of the road. I don’t know how much they wanted as ransom but it was a substantial enough amount considering her family had to liquidate investments to get that amount."
"My aunt was dating an unemployed dude for a while. He was staying in her house rent-free. They got married and were getting ready to go on the honeymoon when the new husband tells her he’s not going because he has to take care of his plants at the house. Big fight. Aunt goes on the honeymoon with her sisters instead.
She comes home and tries to kick him out of her house, but he refuses to leave. She tries to get the police involved. Dude is live-streaming on Facebook how he is being trapped in his own home. Police tell my aunt there is basically nothing they can do, can file for eviction after a divorce. Dude gets to live in her house with his precious plants for like three months until everything legally gets worked out."
"My great-great-grandparents had an interesting case. He was abusive, like 'sell 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 (Catholic community, divorce was rare), but she got what she needed to be safe."
"I was involved in a case where a lady was pursuing a case for 'Unreasonable Behavior.'
Her then husband when going to bed, would stand at the foot of the bed, dropping his trousers and pants, then bend double to step out of his underwear, sit on the bed, then slide up the bed, with his back to her. She had noticed that after a couple of days, brown streaks would appear, in parallel lines, going up the quilt. When she showed her husband 'the evidence,' he stated, 'Those are scorch marks from ironing!'
She proceeded to remove said scorch marks with a damp cloth saying, 'Scorch marks do not wipe off!'
This brought some laughter in the court, especially when the gentlemen admitted that he used only a small amount of toilet paper because 'his poo was always hard and never runny.'
It turned out that the gentleman was something of a 'miser,' going round the house, turning the heating down and the lights off. The children jokingly called him P.O.P., which was a reference to him repeatedly telling them that he hardly ever used more than one sheet of toilet paper. P.O.P was short for 'Percy One Piece.' Again, stifled laughter was audible in the court room and the judge felt it necessary to cover his smiling mouth with a handkerchief."
My client had an inner ear condition that caused chronic vertigo, but symptoms could be treated with medication. The husband was an evangelical who was convinced his wife had
1) become possessed and that her vertigo and general crankiness with his methods were evidence of demonic possession.
2) the medications she was taking was enabling the devil to hide inside her.
3) the only proper recourse was exorcism. He would hide her medication until she got dizzy and then try various methods of exorcism. This included: sweating it out (put under blankets while incapacitated and locked in a room full of space heater), freezing it out (pretty much the reverse with AC, fans, and bags of ice), surprising it out (he would jump out and scare her like it was the hiccups, but instead of yelling ‘Boo!’ he would recite the Lord’s Prayer or Psalms).
The final straw was that he tried to ‘surprise it out of her’ by pushing her down the stairs when they were heading out for dinner.
This guy was some type of executive, and they still went out to dinner after the stairs incident. She asked for the divorce at an Applebee’s that night. I have often tried to picture that conversation, as she was adamant that he was a total sweetheart and never acted out of malice or anger."
"Paralegal, here. There's so many crazy divorces and divorce will bring out the absolute worst in couples. When thinking of reasons a divorce started, this one stands out to me the most:
At my last firm, we did general law, which included probate. A couple did their will with our firm. We drafted everything, they were mid-70s to early 80s. Married 40 years total. Divorced and remarried once. Husband wanted us to put in his will that his kids get his entire estate, but did not want us to tell his wife. He wanted to have us make a secret will and a fake will. The fake will would be signed with her present, then he wanted us to shred and said he would come in later to sign the 'real will.' He copied his wife on the email that had all of this information disclosed in it.
Two weeks later he called us and said he wanted to file for divorce instead.
A previous client was MAD his wife was cheating on him. She wanted a non-contested divorce and wanted to use my boss specifically because she knew he was a great lawyer. He pretended to go along with her terms and contacted us literally two days before his wife and retained us. He said he didn't care how much money the retainer was, but wanted my boss so his wife couldn't have him as a lawyer. He called and paid first, so he won that battle.
We had a good amount of evidence she was cheating and sent over her emails between her and her boyfriend to opposing counsel. The parties ended up settling during mediation because opposing counsel knew that we were going to make her read these out loud in court with her conservative christian parents waiting to be called up as witnesses."
"Not the most outrageous, but I had a client incur about 20 additional hours of billable hours because he and his ex-wife were battling and went to trial over their Star Wars collection. This was the only issue at trial, they were able to work out custody, child support, the house, but the Star Wars collection sent them to trial.
The judge ended up splitting it in the most arrogant way possible, basically giving each side half of what they wanted and then mixing and matching everything else and breaking up 'collections.'
When speaking about it at a conference, the judge admitted she did it because if they were going to act like children, she would treat them like children. The thing is, the value of this collection was over $100,00, so hardly kids stuff.
Neither side had it in them to appeal (nor was the case law on either side given judicial discretion in property distribution)."
"My client was the outrageous one, so my heart went out to his poor wife. He had OCD which manifested primarily financially, so he made their lives a penny-pinching purgatory. For example, he was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving (wear and tear on the car, gas expenses), so he cut the whole family’s hair at home and never let them eat at a restaurant or go to the movies. The weirdest thing? He kept one toilet paper roll on him at all times and you had to get one square from him before you could go to the bathroom. He never gave more than one square.
The wife finally got fed up and left him when 1) he gave her bangs during an in-home haircut and 2) their daughter was so traumatized by the toilet paper thing they couldn’t potty train her.
The husband also hated paying his divorce lawyer bill, and he was an old-fashioned mega-catholic who considered divorce a deadly sin. He viewed my whole job as an unnecessary (and sinful) expense."
"He got trashed at the wedding, she did not like it, and decided to divorce him right after the honeymoon (which she went on without him).
Moreover, this was all an elaborate scheme of divorce-robbery, because the guy was loaded, and so was his entire family. They were loaded because they were a family of EXCELLENT lawyers, and he was a third generation lawyer, with all the smarts and experience of his predecessors combined.
Let's just say it did not go well for her."
"Not necessarily the most outrageous reason, but definitely some outrageous conduct.
The saddest divorce we were hired to do (but ended up not doing for reasons that'll become apparent), was a woman in her 50s whose husband had really just let himself go. He was over 400 lbs, just did his third triple bypass, refused to do ANYTHING different, just smoked and drank all day long while watching TV. His doctors told him he was going to die in six months if he didn't change his behavior. He told them they were all morons.
Meanwhile, his wife is this successful woman who makes over $10,000 a month on her HOBBY, while making six figures at her normal job. She lost all respect for him, all desire, and all love for him by watching his decline. For the past few years, she could barely stand him. It also sounded like there was some verbal abuse going on where he constantly accused her of cheating and gas lighting her while cheating himself throughout their marriage (and spending all his money on blow, the usual). His accusations ramped up considerably once she lost about 200 lbs the good ole fashioned way.
We were working on her divorce and one of her provisions was that he keep her as the beneficiary on his life insurance (for obvious reasons). She assured us he would agree to everything she suggested in the paperwork if she talked him through it.
One day, we get an email from her saying to halt the divorce. Not because they were reconciling, but because he refused to keep her as the beneficiary on his life insurance if they divorced. So, she stopped the divorce so that she could get the benefits when he inevitably died in a few months.
We also had one where the opposing party (husband) found out his old wife (late 70s) was terminally ill. He started using EVERY tactic in the book to delay the final hearing so that she would die before their divorce was finalized, and he wouldn't have to lose anything.
We just got another where the couple agreed to everything beforehand, signed documents, agreed to a dissolution, and how to share custody. Now the husband wants revenge and wants to trash the dissolution, take everything from her, and take away their kid from her. Why? Because she told him 'no' when he asked for their kid a full day and night ahead of schedule when she had already made plans with the kid."
"I'm a divorce lawyer in London.
I had a client who indulged in illicit substance abuse recreationaly. His dealer lives in the same apartment building as him.
He went down one day to pick up some stuff. When the dealer (female) came to the door, he could hear his wife in the background. Turns out that his wife also liked the high life and was getting her fix in with the neighborhood dealer as well. But it doesn't end there, because they all get on so well they start having parties and hanging out.
Parties turned to group loving. Each week, the husband and wife put their kids to bed and headed downstairs to the dealer's flat for a night of debauchery.
A couple of months passed by and the wife came home and said she is leaving the husband to be in a full-time relationship with the dealer! The dude is now super stressed because he can't score anymore from his dealer who stole his missus!"
"I’ve had a number of bizarre divorce cases in the handful of years I’ve been practicing.
In my very first case, my client filed for divorce based on her husband’s alleged abuse. I later discovered that the husband had never actually abused her in any way, but she was using made-up allegations to gain an advantage in custody. The real reason she was divorcing her husband was so that she could marry the teenage runaway the couple had taken into their home a couple years prior. This teen was 15 when they took him (a trans male) in, and the week he turned 18 – about a month after she filed for divorce – she came into my office and announced they were in love. Also, she had begun forcing her children, who were all a few years younger than this kid, to exclusively refer to him as 'dad.' I ended up dropping her as a client after she refused to stop breaking the law in trying to frame her husband for crimes he hadn’t committed (like hiding illegal substances in his car), so I unfortunately have no idea how the case ended.
I had another train wreck of a case where my client filed for divorce from her much older husband (she was mid-20s, and he was in his 50s). She had always been a subservient wife, but the first time she stood up for herself and argued with him about something he had done (I can’t remember exactly what he had done, but he was an abusive piece of trash), his response was to tell her he was going to have her family murdered. The next week, somebody shot her brother several times (he managed to survive) and she finally got the nerve to file for divorce."
"We still refer to it as 'The Soulmate Case.'
A married woman, with children 5 to 11 years old, got locked up for drinking and driving on a Saturday night. What that means is she was stuck there until a bail review on Monday morning. She was released, and on the car ride back to the house, she told her husband and kids, 'I’ve found my soulmate, and I want you all to be happy for me.'
What? Absolutely insane to think that in those few hours behind bars, this woman had become infatuated with an inmate (that was serving just shy of a year for theft and assault on an officer, no less) and had engaged in several intimate encounters.
She wanted nothing to do with the kids and a magistrate granted a non-limited divorce with full custody and rights going to the father.
The mother resurfaced about three years later, and looked like trash. She was skinny and dirty, and had been arrested a couple times for substances and passing forged scripts. We presumed her 'soulmate,' got released from jail, and quickly turned mom into an addict. The youngest kid had a few supervised visits with the mom, but that ended when she couldn’t reliably attend. The older kids want nothing to do with her."
"He was frustrated by her hoarding. She was frustrated by his utter uselessness.
He filed for divorce, and she was my client. Her prized possession was a room or two full of scrap-booking materials. His prized possession was a yard full of junk cars that he never worked on. They had no children and no real assets.
They hated each other more than any two people I'd ever met, and the only terms they would agree to were these: he gets the scrap-booking stuff, and she gets the cars. My client also took the house, as he had no income and didn't want it anyway.
These two also fought over a toilet brush, so he didn't want to have to buy one when he moved out. I politely instructed my client to 'give him the toilet brush.'
It was the shortest divorce decree I ever drafted. I intentionally squeezed it onto one page, and the judge and I had a good laugh over it.
Once the decree was signed and filed, she hauled all the scrap-booking stuff to the yard, and he took it to the dump. She then called a junk shop I referred her to and had all of his cars removed from the yard."
"I am a lawyer that handles quite a few divorces (among other things), and I've seen all sorts of reasons for marriages ending. The only thing that is consistently true is that it is NEVER for just one reason and it is NEVER one-sided. In fact, I've started telling potential clients in our initial interview that I am well aware that I am going to uncover some dirt on my client in the process, not to scare them, but to put their mind to ease that I've seen worse. The fact that you haven't been 100% an angel up to this point doesn't scare me, and I'd rather find out about it from my client beforehand than later on from their spouse at the worse possible moment.
All this is just to say that when you hear about people divorcing over one stupid argument or mistake, usually that's just the straw that broke the camel's back. That said, some of the lighter straws I've seen include:
A woman who claims my client was emotionally abusive towards her because he refused to yell at her, and sat in silence ignoring her when she screamed at him. He has this recorded, time stamped for the dates and times she insists the incidents occurred, and she's listened to them and his complete silence as she goes on tirades and insists this proves her point that he was 'emotionally distant and abusive.'
A woman who is divorcing my client because he was 'too sad' after his father died last year. My client had to break down her door to get his father's ashes a few weeks after he left the house and she refused to let him back in or give them to him.
There's also a guy who is 100% convinced that his wife (our client) is actually a lesbian in love with his sister and just using him as a cover. He also claims she is sleeping with me to pay for her legal fees, and with every male whose phone number is in her call history."
"My 90-year-old client (the husband) and his son retained me to initiate divorce proceedings with his 88-year-old wife. They’d been married 60 years. The wife had recently taken to beating him with his own cane because their daughter poisoned her into thinking he was hiding money from them. The battle came down to husband and son versus wife and daughter. I was naïve and fresh out of law school when I handled this case. At the time, I remember being angry and disappointed with the wife and daughter for their behavior. But now, looking back, after what I’ve seen in my own life since this case, I believe the daughter suffered from an apparently untreated mental illness.
When we were in mediation (where the parties can discuss matters in a non binding setting), the wife was confronted with photos of my client’s bruises (inflicted by her with his own cane) and she never once denied hitting him. So I accepted the battery as a given.
It soon became apparent to me that the son and the daughter were calling the shots in this dispute. The daughter was the only source of the 'money hiding' allegations against my client, and the son was the driving force behind my client initiating divorce.
While my client never actively bad mouthed his long time wife to me, he did agree when asked questions like 'did your wife assault you?' and 'are you sure you want a divorce?' His agreement (and the photos) was good enough for me to proceed
And so while I never saw the wife’s horrible behavior firsthand, nobody in the family denied that it regularly occurred.
At their first court appearance, my client showed up in an old 1950s style pin stripe suit and fedora. He was a farmer his whole life, and this was clearly the only suit he owned. He was such a meek and lovely old gentleman.
I had to pass my client onto a new lawyer midway through the proceedings because I accepted a job in a different country, but I understand the divorce was eventually granted.
From what I recall, the son (also a farmer) received some farm land from the father as a pre-inheritance gift, and the daughter (not a farmer) received nothing. She was bitter and resentful, so she planted seeds in the mother’s head that the dad was hiding money. The son told me numerous times his sister was schizophrenic (which based on her general demeanor appeared to me to be correct), and at no point did I see any evidence that my client had much money for himself, let alone any money to hide. But since I didn’t see the case through to the end, I don’t know for sure how the money hiding allegations panned out."