Turns out Family Court lawyers are also babysitters to some of the whiniest, immature people on the face of the planet. Just when these lawyers thought they had seen it all, one or both of the parents sink to a new low. These stories just keep getting juicier and more scandalous. This content has been edited for clarity.
"When I was in law school, I worked on a case involving the parents of a victim of Sandy Hook. They were divorced prior to losing their child but were still fighting over child support several years later. They were fighting over who got to keep the victim's compensation fund proceeds for the death of their 6-year-old. They were insanely rich, so it wasn't about the money. It was about getting a win over their former spouse. It wasn't so much the pettiness that got to me as it was the way they were fighting over it. They were using the death of their baby to score points against that baby's other parent, as well as the other children who were stuck in the middle of this nightmare. It was incredibly petty, but much more depressing than anything else. By far the worst case I've ever worked on."
"This happened in January. This guy was just released from a 2-year jail sentence, and of course at that point, his marriage was so rocky. When his wife dropped his kids off to visit (he lived with his parents for parole purposes), the son said his uncle (wife's brother) hit him. The father then filed a PFA against the wife and uncle. It was granted. Then he files for sole custody. It was granted. The kids were in his custody for about 2 months before the custody hearing.
Of course, my boss threw me the file and I had to handle the mediation and last minute prep. At the mediation, the father and wife sat angry-eyed. Literally, each person was cross armed and furious. The other lawyer and I discuss the facts and what arrangement each client wants briefly in another room. We come out, and our clients are gone.
Magically, and praise the Lord, in the course of 10 minutes of me and the lawyer talking, the father and mother made up, made out in the corner of the hallway and returned. The case was dropped. May I mention, this was pro bono?"
"My dad received full custody and won everything in the divorce because my mom was diagnosed with a multitude of mental problems that she refused to take medication for. She was also an abusive addict who took illicit substances for funsies. After all that was said and done, she decided she'd show us. When we were gone, she'd break into my dad's house and steal random items like Tupperware lids. All the Tupperware lids.
We came home from school and all the forks were gone, so we went to Walmart and bought more forks. We came home with forks, and now all of the spoons were gone. We found out that she'd been getting inside through my bedroom window, so we put a lock on the window and put up security cameras.
That didn't work out, because 3 days later while we were gone, we got her on video stealing, yes actually stealing, the window and running down the road.
Before you ask, yes, we have a restraining order. Yes, we turned the tapes over to the cops. No, you can't have a crazy person put into a mental hospital against their will unless they are a physical threat to themselves or others. Yes, she still randomly steals stuff from my dad's house. It's more of an amusement now, though."
"My girlfriend is a family lawyer. She had a couple from Eastern Europe who wanted a divorce. There was a long fight over what the husband's assets were. He claimed to be living on less than $12,000 cash per year. The wife hired a private detective, who eventually found that he was hiding another entire home. She won a big settlement. My girlfriend is really happy. She doesn't get a penny of the settlement, but she just liked seeing the liar caught.
But still, the wife isn't happy. She claims that the husband is hiding even more money, so she keeps badgering him with more legal stuff, despite my girlfriend telling her, 'You won, let it be.'
As a result, the husband hires his own private detective, who finds out that the wife is joint owner of another house with her new boyfriend. Because the wife had obtained the new secret house prior to the settlement, she didn't disclose it. The wife's settlement was invalidated. My girlfriend immediately got off the record, and she refused to help the woman anymore."
"In law school, I did some intern work for a family law clinic. Most of my clients were pretty reasonable, but when waiting for my cases to be heard in the hearing room, I saw some really petty and terrible behavior from other parties. But one case stood out as the absolute worst.
One guy, who got custody of the family dog in the divorce, said that if he didn't get more visitation with the children, he would have the dog euthanized. His excuse was that without the kids there, the dog wouldn't get the attention it needed and was better off dead.
The ex-wife made an impassioned plea before the judge, showing pictures of the kids playing with the dog and video testimony from the kids expressing their love for it. It was 100% clear they would be devastated if the dog was put down. While the judge was very sympathetic, and tried asking the ex-husband to be reasonable, in the end her hands were tied, since the dog was the ex-husband's property per the divorce agreement, and he was free to do whatever he wanted, provided it comported with state anti-cruelty laws.
In the end she relented to give him custody rights basically every weekend of the month in order to save the kids' dog.
To the judge's credit, she gave the ex-husband a verbal haranguing like I've never seen in all my years of practicing law since. She warned him that she would be watching this case very closely and would not hesitate referring it to a criminal prosecutor if he slips up in any way either towards the treatment of the dog or the kids. And that if anything happens to that dog, she would fast track a hearing to revisit his visitation rights, and strongly implied the new visitation schedule would be vastly against his favor should that come to pass.
On that day I realized I never wanted to be a family lawyer."
"I'm training to be a lawyer but I have a case in my own family right now.
My aunt and uncle are getting a divorce for various reasons. My uncle supposedly had an affair with a woman he'd been in a relationship with before marrying my aunt; he also harassed and verbally/physically abused my aunt and her father, scaring their two kids as a result.
The divorce is mutual, but the splitting up of assets and custody isn't. He's tried everything in his power to claim everything he can from my aunt, from bank accounts to the house they lived in. My aunt moved away and lives in pretty much the middle of nowhere with her family at the moment, in order to get away from it all.
My uncle is acting like a lunatic, my aunt is frightened of him, and their kids are terrified. He's turned up at their school before demanding to see the kids, and he is abusive and nasty even at court. He yelled that he didn't agree with what was going on at the last hearing and walked out. The judge didn't tolerate his nonsense and literally just went, 'Well too bad, I don't care what he thinks.'
He's accused my aunt of being an unfit mother because she's always at work (she's a doctor and has a really senior and prestigious position, so she often travels), but the court found that she's fit enough. Then he tried to accuse the granddad of being unfit and dangerous as he's 72, on the basis that he has weak eyes or something because he was involved in a car crash.
He even accused the granddad of intimately abusing his 7-year-old grandkid and insisted that both kids were born of familial relations between the granddad and the aunt, because they are too close. My aunt is his daughter, of course they're close. He's always been there for her, and now he takes care of her kids when she's at work. Just what kind of garbage person do you have to be to go there?
The kids don't want to see him, but he has visitation under supervision. My female cousin who is 11 cries when he is around, and last time apparently locked herself in the toilet and didn't come out until my uncle had left. My 7-year-old cousin keeps muttering, 'I want to kill him.'
Can you imagine how devastating it is to hear a kid say that? I'm not sure what's going on there at the moment, just that the process is ongoing, and he has visitation every two weeks or something. He's petty and messed up and is trying to ruin any credibility my aunt and granddad have.
It's disgusting that he goes to such lengths and doesn't really care about his own kids. He can't see that they're terrified and hate him. And I can see how much it's affected them, because they're really withdrawn unless they're with family members. How petty do you have to be to try to ruin the lives of your own kids?
I think my aunt and granddad are trying to stop visitation, which is difficult, as he's their father. But they're hoping social services can see what a train wreck this whole situation is and to not put the kids through this anymore. I think my granddad mentioned something about a psychologist. It's petty when parents are too busy trying to ruin each other and don't look at the effect it has on their children."
"One guy was a total control freak. He'd gone to the Philippines and 'romanced' his now ex-wife, brought her back to Australia, and then expected her to be a slave for him and have his kids. When she left him, he manipulated her into believing that they would share custody of the kids, and they didn't need court orders - then behind her back he went to court, obtained 'sole custody' of the kids and basically cut her out.
Then, when she was back on her feet and could finally go back to court and try to get her kids back, he said she was a hustler, among other things. He said the kids were learning adult behavior from her, despite the fact that he was living in a trailer/caravan/modified shipping container (something like that), with no actual walls between the kids' room and the bedroom he shared with his new partner. And the mother was living in a house with bedrooms and doors.
He was a real nice guy.
In the end, he didn't use a lawyer, so he was completely steamrolled in court. His court documents were laughable, literally everything that had ever gone wrong with the kids was the mother's fault. He now sees the kids once a fortnight instead of having them live with him full time. So there's definitely a way not to do things."
"I'm not a lawyer, I just worked for one.
One case involved a family, with three kids aged 2-10. The father was being accused, rather suddenly, of intimately abusing his children. The mother brought a suit against him for this, and I got to read a psychologist evaluation of the whole thing. The father was surprised, to say the least, and the mother was rather hostile. The children did mention stories of abuse, and they each indicated to CPS that they were being abused in one-on-one sessions.
The mother was described as having many detailed stories of the abuse: the how, the why, and the when. The maternal grandmother was also apparently helping her with these. Some of her descriptions were painful, going as far as to detail how the father physically abused his 2-year-old daughter while changing her diaper. The mother apparently also had a history of this sort of abuse as a child and was working night shifts that stressed her out a lot recently, but she didn't want to change this.
The father's evaluation was shorter. He appeared like a dear in headlights and didn't understand his wife's sudden shift in tone. He only came to terms with the full consequences much later in the proceedings.
The children themselves were evaluated during visits with their respective parents, noting that the mother was extremely controlling in the presence of the supervisor and would reprimand in ways that were ineffective. The father's time with the children was much warmer, more natural, he was able to redirect the children to behave without any punishment or reprimands.
With one on one time with the children they indicated signs of abuse, though it's interesting how they have to do things with very young children. The psychologist did not get the impression that these indications were genuine, and that they were coached.
The psychologist's conclusion gave the impression that the mother and maternal grandmother were coaching the children into indicating their father was abusive, the conclusion was mostly that the children should immediately be placed in custody with their father. The mother would get visitation rights, but not custody. The CPS report indicating abuse was a false positive due to the use of leading questions and other techniques which were not accurate. This report more or less cemented the father's position as sole caretaker, as it became clear the mother had concocted his story. I don't remember the exact motives or reasons, just that it was generally unpleasant and taught me a lot about how far parents would go."
"So many I don't know which to choose.
A father once called me because his ex-wife was planning to take their daughter to Disney World. He said he was concerned that his wife might decide to stay there, and he wouldn't know how to contact his daughter. Right, it's not because your kid might have fun with mom, it's because of the epidemic of people who just don't come back from Disney. Sounds legit.
A mother, who had (for good cause) lost custody of her children for the foreseeable future, wouldn't let them retrieve their clothes and stuff from her house because, she claimed, she would never get the clothes back.
A dad, who made about 90% of the parents' combined income, tried to get the court to force mom to pay her 10% share of their teenage son's car insurance costs, because reasons. I did the math; her share came out to less than $.25 per day. This happened after she had to go to court to get him to pay his share of the kid's educational expenses.
I've lost track of how many times I've seen a parent tell the judge they'd rather pay the cost of a babysitter than let the child spend more time with the other parent who was willing, able, and eager to watch the kid. Of course, they always want the other parent to pay their share of the babysitter cost, too. Of course.
Another popular one: divorce seems to be the leading cause of very successful businesses suddenly and mysteriously tanking. 'Business is great! What's that? My ex might be entitled to a portion of my business? Oh, uh, this business ain't doing so good no more. The economy, you know. Tough times.'"
"A friend of mine was divorced, and the dad went a little overboard.
There was Dad's House Stuff and Mom's House stuff. When the two boys would go to Dad's, they would have to strip down just inside the front door, stuff all their Mom's House clothes in their backpacks, and don Dad's House clothes. Dad would then take the backpacks out to the shed, where they would stay for the duration of the visit. There was nothing from Mom's House allowed in Dad's House at all, and the backpacks were completely off-limits.
At the end of visitation, Dad would retrieve the backpacks, the kids would again strip, and then they would re-clothe themselves in Mom's House clothes before they went back to Mom's. Before Mom caught on and sent them with a change of clothes, they would have to re-attire themselves in the same dirty socks and underwear they wore on the way in.
Everything was duplicated. There were Dad's House bikes and Mom's House bikes. Video games. Clothes. Everything.
One day, Dad called Mom screaming and irate because Adam was reading a book at Mom's house, and he was really into it. Dad was upset because he had to go out and buy a copy of the book. How dare Mom buy ANYTHING for his son without running it past him first, so that he could purchase a duplicate.
The kids would be interrogated every visit. What does Mom feed them? Which TV shows were they allowed to watch? What did Mom do with you last weekend? You went to a movie? Well, get in the car, we're going to a movie, too.
He was SUPER angry at the courts. She was a stay-at-home mom during the marriage, and he gave up the house in lieu of alimony, but he kicked in child support. After the divorce, she went back to her previous employer and re-ignited her career, bringing in a nice salary. He was a dentist and made partner in the practice.
He applied to the court to lower his child support, claiming that Mom's significant income should change the equation. The courts agreed that the equation should change all right, seeing as he was making a ton more money as a partner, he should be paying MORE in support. So THAT backfired.
All in all, he would take the pettiest little molehill and turn it into a mountain, every time."
"His parents didn't let a kid get his college education because they were fighting over who was going to pay it. This includes cosigning on the predatory loans that everyone was rushing to sign up for.
The judge asked why either one didn't bring this up 6 months earlier, when they knew he was starting college. Both of them gave the same answer from their perspective, something like how the other parent is to blame because they didn't tell the parent about the bills. Apparently, both parents knew about the bills and the deadlines for the previous 3 months, and they both expected the other to pay for it. The case wasn't raised in court until after the deadline for the next semester had passed.
The kid probably was forced to take loans on his own, god only knows his situation now. The parents ended up spending the same amount as the tuition each in lawyer fees just for them both to have to pay half the tuition.
Never get divorced."
"I have been in family law for over a decade, and the most petty thing I have ever seen happen was that the wife from an affluent divorcing family had several trees planted on one side of a fence on the property. The husband wanted them planted on the other side of the exact same fence, about 5 feet from where the wife had them planted. He insisted that we file contempt against the wife for said tree plantings. They spent close to $50k in legal fees arguing over the stupid trees. It was incredible! I have stories upon stories of people's pettiness but this one will always stand out for me!!!
Another really petty one was a dad buying a money order for child support every month, but not actually giving them to the mom. He gave us copies of all the money orders he bought as evidence of the support he paid, but she claimed she had never received them. Well that seemed stupid, but he had actually just kept them and then, like an idiot, gave the original months old money order to the mom to pay for the outstanding child support balance. He was definitely found in contempt!! People can be really ridiculous!"
"One of my former cases come to mind right away:
I represented a mom who, despite my constant advice to the contrary, was constantly trying to get the dad arrested to improve her position in the custody battle over their two kids.
Before I took her case, she had successfully obtained a restraining order against the dad (I later strongly suspected her allegations were fabricated). It became apparent she had not gotten the restraining order for safety reasons, but rather to harass the dad.
On one occasion, the mom convinced her teenage babysitter (whom she later confessed to being in a physical relationship with, but that's a whole other story) to call the dad, frantically claiming that one of the kids had stopped breathing. The babysitter told the dad she had called 911, but they had not shown up yet. The dad, understandably panicked beyond belief, rushed to the mom's house, to try to save his child. What he was unaware of was the fact that the mom had planned the whole thing, and had herself called the police and said that the dad was threatening to come to her house to harm her. When the dad arrived at the house to try to help his child, the police were already there waiting for him, and he spent the weekend in jail for violating the restraining order.
Later the same week, the mom paid a relative to plant illegal substances in the dad's car, while she tipped off the cops, in hopes of getting the dad sent to jail and losing all custody and visitation of the kids. Fortunately, the relative got cold feet at the last minute, and confessed the plan to the dad.
To this day, that was the only client I ever dropped due to their morally repugnant actions."
"I witnessed a case in court, while waiting for my client's case to be called, that was pretty ugly.
The mom had filed a motion to modify custody and visitation (I believe this was at least the 20th time she had done so) for their daughter. Mom and Dad had approximately 50/50 timeshare, and Mom wanted her alternating weekends with daughter to start at 8:00 AM Fridays, instead of 3:00 PM. As the daughter was in school from 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM, this change, even if granted, would have no practical effect whatsoever. The most absurd part of the whole thing was that the daughter was less than two months from graduating from high school, and a week from turning 18.
The judge let both parents shout over one another for about 5-10 minutes, then sighed loudly and told both of them to 'grow up' and not come back to her courtroom."
"I had a client who negotiated to keep the marital home, but she had to make a 40k payment to her spouse as part of the deal.
I scheduled a meeting in my office, to be joined by my client, the adversary (ex spouse), and his opposing counsel. I confirmed with her repeatedly that she was coming to the meeting, and I confirmed with her repeatedly that she was bringing a bank or cashier's check for the amount, as specifically directed in the property settlement agreement.
The day comes and she's running late. We're sitting around my conference table passing time. A bunch of guys knock on the door to the conference room. They looked like they were movers, from the way they were dressed. They all walk in, carrying duffel bags which they set down on my table. Lots and lots and lots of duffel bags. She had taken the money out in singles.
The opposing counsel was understandably livid. I informed my client that I would no longer be representing her."
"Family law attorney here, a.k.a. a glorified babysitter.
One client said that father's visitation should be limited because his girlfriend's shirts are too low cut.
Another client was ordered to box up his wife's belongings (and some of the child's belongings) and hand it over to her (she had him arrested and moved out). When I followed up with him, he said all went smoothly, and he did as the Judge directed. When we get to court, the opposing counsel informs the judge (with color photographs), that he boxed up garbage. Literally took garbage and stuffed each box with it. When I asked why he did that, he said, 'My wife only owned garbage. That's what she left behind.'
That same client, who was actually the worst client I ever had, once threatened to call child protective services and alleged that the mother was neglecting and mistreating their daughter. The problem was that there was a full stay-away criminal court order of protection against him (in favor of the mom and child). I told him that if CPS deems that to be true, his daughter might end up with the state. He responded, 'Then so be it. Let her go to foster care.'
That same guy used to whisper, 'Drop dead' every time his wife walked by us in court."