Divorce can be messy, especially when there are assets or children involved. These divorce lawyers recall the pettiest thing that happened in a case. Content has been edited for clarity purposes.
A Devoted Wife, But Her Husband, Not So Much
“It was a middle-aged, third marriage for both of them. They both had fairly nice lives set up beforehand; cars, vacations, good jobs, etc. When they decided to get married, the wife sold her house to move to his.
That was when she discovered he was actually a hoarder and the place was a wreck on the inside. She quit her job and made it her mission to clean up the house. She then realized he hadn’t filed or withheld taxes in the last ten years. So, she prepared returns for him and negotiated his tax debt way down. His house was about to go into foreclosure, she spent her nest egg on keeping it from being sold.
She did all that, yet he still cheated on her. When she found out, she finally left him.
In the divorce, she asked to be put back in the position she was in before they were married. His response was pretty much, ‘Get outta here! Your money is all spent, and what’s left is mine.’
I was pleased to report that it did not end well for him.”
“I was an assistant for a family law practice, not a lawyer. So it was already a disaster of a divorce because the ex-husband was a prick. But it got so much worse when the wife started dating someone new with a severe cat allergy like a year after they split up.
Her psycho ex bought a cat during his time with the kids, except he was not allowed pets at his apartment. He sent the kids back to their mom’s house with the cat and all its stuff. The mom was livid because she didn’t want a cat at all plus her boyfriend was crazy allergic.
While the cat was in the garage, she called us asking what to do because her kids were now bawling and saying she couldn’t get rid of their new ‘sibling.’
Her ex told the kids, ‘If mommy loves you, she’ll let you keep the cat since daddy is not allowed cats at his house.'”
The Case Lasted For Decades
“The worst I saw was a decades-long case. The husband had been in a motorcycle accident, and suffered brain damage. He had severely limited capacity going forward. He got a huge settlement afterward.
His wife spent the next several years stealing the entirety of the guy’s money and property variously by forging his signature or putting documents in front of him that he couldn’t understand and telling him they were something benign so he’d sign it. She then forged a bunch of letters from a tax authority and convinced him he was about to go to jail and further convinced him to flee the country.
He finally came back several years later to find out everything he owned was in her name and one of the documents he was told to sign were divorce papers.
The dude got left with nothing. I moved on before I found out how the story ended.”
“Someone else in the office had a family case where she decided she wasn’t going to work for the client anymore because they were becoming increasingly difficult to deal with. It was a long time ago so I can’t remember for sure but after we stopped working for them I think they started harassing the lawyer. They would call her multiple times a day and just generally be a nuisance.
A couple of days later, I realized a car had been sitting in our car park for quite a while with people inside. They were just staring into my ground-floor office.
I asked the receptionist, ‘What’s going on?’
We realized it was the person who had been ditched as a client. The branch manager went out to the car and told them it was a private car park 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.
Eventually, they left but the strange part was that they filmed the entire thing as if they sat on private property 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.”
Father Of The Year… Sike!
“One divorced couple came in because the ex-husband wanted to lower his spousal support payments, due to his lower income, great financial responsibilities, and the fact, his ex-wife was declining to seek paid employment, all of which sound reasonable on the face.
It turned out while his income had been lowered due to ‘cuts’, his new wife, who technically worked as his ‘assistant’ (and had done so prior to the divorce) was now making quadruple her salary, more than he ever had.
He claimed his ex-wife had ‘unpaid renters’ living with her and could have money to survive if she charged them rent. It turned out they were the couple’s shared 18-year-old twins who were living at home having just graduated high school and were going to keep living at home while starting college in the fall.
It also later turned out that he allowed his stepdaughter and her two children to live with him and his wife rent-free and paid for her college. His ex-wife produced evidence how he told his own kids to figure out paying for college themselves.
He claimed his ex-wife worked as a nanny for free by choice and should be getting paid for work elsewhere. The kids she watched for free were their three joint grandchildren from their eldest child, two of which were severely disabled.
He claimed when he married his new wife, he gained over fifteen new dependants, which was technically true, but those dependants were all in Mexico and included his new wife’s grown siblings and their families, none of whom he had ever met.
This dude was shocked when spousal support wasn’t decreased.”
Dog Custody Part One
“I was contacted by a woman after her judgment was final. She and her ex-husband had a pretty short marriage of maybe seven to eight years. In the divorce, she was awarded four years of spousal support (alimony) at a modest $400 per month or something like that. They also had a dog. Their divorce said the wife would have ‘primary custody’ of the dog but the husband could request time pretty much whenever he wanted. The wife then promptly moved across the country to be with her family.
In the ensuing several years, the husband never once requested time with the dog. He paid his alimony, and the two went on peacefully hating each other like most divorced couples.
Fast forward to the final few months of his spousal support obligation. The husband got into his feels and told the wife he was not going to pay the final few months of spousal support. His basis was since the wife was dating, and had a boyfriend, he shouldn’t have to pay his court ordered spousal support.
She tells him, ‘No, thats not how any of this works. You have to pay.’
She later told me how she really didn’t give a hoot about a couple months of support and she was going to drop it.
A few weeks later, the husband requested visitation with the dog. First time in years. The wife was surprised but hey, that was his right. So they made plans to meet at an airport where he could pick up the dog and take her home for a few weeks. Since the husband was an airline employee, he was able to book a ticket quick.
The day after the exchange, the husband (in his magnificent wisdom) texted my client and said, ‘If you don’t repay me the 20k in spousal support I’ve paid over the last several years, you will never see the dog again.’
She immediately flipped out.
She told him, ‘I need the dog back at the end of your three weeks. If you don’t, I will go to the court.’
He appeared to back off. They even made plans for him to return the dog.
The day before the scheduled exchange, the ex-husband texted the ex-wife, ‘I can’t make the exchange. I’m in Mexico.’
The ex-wife replied, ‘When can I expect the dog back then?’
No response. The day after the original exchange date, the wife received a text message from him.
The ex-husband texted, ‘I’m back home in the States. But the dog is gone. It ran away from me in Mexico. I couldn’t find it.’
He apparently hung around for a few hours looking and then caught his plane home. This was when she brought me in.
Now, a quick word about normal remedies here. In family court, we basically resolve everything regarding property with money. But with a dog (which is property) that won’t really solve anything. So we decided to pursue contempt of court, which is a pseudo-criminal action. So basically even though it is a family court judge, we treat it like a trial. There is an arraignment, criminal protections, the whole nine yards. Now, any family law attorney who knows their stuff will tell you contempt actions are basically just empty threats. Most family court judges aren’t going to send people to jail over divorce stuff. But my client insisted because she was convinced her ex-husband was just hiding the dog somewhere.
So I proceeded with the contempt action.”
Dog Custody Part Two
“His lawyer treated the whole thing as a huge insult to everyone’s intelligence. They showed up to the arraignment literally having prepared nothing. The lawyer and him were just sitting there with smug grins on their face, expecting the matter to be dismissed. Lo and behold, I actually knew how to string a few sentences together and the judge asked for his plea. His lawyer again scoffed with the pure rudeness of the concept his client did anything wrong and we set a trial date.
During the prep phase, I subpoenaed what I could and tried to nail down this guy’s story. When combined with my client’s background info, things pretty much looked like this:
The ex-husband picked up the dog at the Atlanta airport. He claimed he then flew with the dog home to LA, and then later flew with the dog to Mexico.
My client pointed out how you needed a certificate to fly with a dog, and she had provided him with no certificate nor had he contacted the dog’s vet for a flight certificate.
So how did the dog get to Mexico?
He then changed the story to state he drove the dog to Houston and then his mother drove from Texas to Cancun with the dog while he flew. Cancun is roughly a 40 hour drive from Texas. Clearly all of this sounded bananas. So when we called him on it, he stated that was how it happened.
While in Cancun, they called a repairman to fix the A/C and the repairman left the door open. The dog ran away. Poof. This apparently happened the day before the scheduled exchange.
So simple little me, I looked at the timeline here. If he was going to be returning the dog to the ex-wife the day after the dog become lost, surely he would have had a plane ticket from Cancun to Atlanta for the next day right? But he called the ex-wife from LA the day after the exchange to say the dog was gone?
So I asked, ‘Well, show me the airline ticket change?’
The husband said, ‘No.’
He wouldn’t do it and that was when I knew I caught him in his lie.
I asked, ‘You never intended to return the dog, did you?’
After disproving his entire itinerary, I also got the ‘Give me 20k or you’ll never see the dog again’ text admitted into evidence. Which, if his attorney wasn’t such an arrogant prick, probably could have been kicked.
At the end of the trial, my guy actually got convicted of contempt of court. He was sentenced to five days in jail. After he left, both the court clerk and court reporter told me they had never seen such a clearly guilty person. I actually saw the court staff shaking their head when he was answering my questions on cross. That was amazing.
Several of opposing counsel objections were raised several times and repeatedly overruled. At one point, he requested a continuance of the trial after we had rested our arguments. His basis was ‘that his client and he had no idea the Court would allow the text message and other evidence, and they needed time to prepare defense for that evidence.’
Yes, you read that right.
The Court said, on the record, ‘Well counsel, that might be an argument for your insurance carrier but it doesn’t work here.’
In the end, the ex-wife never did get her poor dog back. The prevailing theory was that he just gave the dog to a friend or something and couldn’t ask for it back. But he did spend a whopping three hours in jail and had to pay my fees. One final kicker though: He was a TSA employee. A TSA employee who suddenly found himself with a criminal record. Whoopsie! Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
Her Conspiracy Theory
“I represented a guy who was in his second marriage. His first wife passed away from cancer, and he and his kids were obviously devastated. My client was a pretty sensitive guy with a big heart. His second wife could be very charming, which was why he fell for her. Unforunately, it was all a facade.
Anyway, to make a long story about a lengthy divorce short, my client met a very kind and affectionate woman during his case. They really hit it off and were basically engaged. Even though his divorce was far from over. The fiancee started having health problems and was diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer.
Somehow the second wife found out about this and tried to use the cancer diagnosis against my client in court. She developed this crazy theory how my client had killed his first wife by giving her cancer and that he was doing the same thing to his ‘fiancee.’
The second wife’s attorney, who was quite good, refused to be a party to it. The attorney never addressed the argument in court and didn’t even ask the second wife any questions about it during testimony. Rather, the attorney informed the judge that the second wife wished to address the court directly about an issue. The judge allowed her to do so in a highly irregular move. The second wife told her crazy conspiracy theory to the judge, adding that she was certain my client had tried to give her cancer at some point as well.
I wish I had an artist’s rendering of the scene; capturing the second wife’s crazy eyes, the attorney’s look of shame/embarrassment, the judge’s look of confusion/ennui, and my look of awe-inspired disgust.”
The Conserative Grandparents Got Involved
“The prospective client (PC) had mental health concerns. They were also from a heavily conservative 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 who was not from their parents’ community. They were untreated for their illness but in remission. However, the entire time, their former partner did not know about their 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 of the area on a business trip they had a breakdown. When the police showed up (neighbors called) they were in a full-blown delusional state. They ended up in the state hospital for multiple months, 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 PC didn’t attend. They were still in custody and fully delusional.
Fast forward 8ish years, the PC showed up in my office, grandparents in tow, because PC was medically stable, by which I mean medicated to the gills, and likely as a result of this was now fully under the grandparents’ control. Anyway, they and the grandparents were insistent on getting back the kids, who PC has not seen or communicated with since the incident. The PC and grandparents 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.’
The ‘plan’ was to have the PC 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, get custody, and then secretly move the kids back to grandparents’ state.
The grandparents were confident that once the PC and grandkids moved ‘home,’ their home judges would approve of it, because ‘we know each other. It’ll work out.’
When I told them the law did not work that way and PC 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. When I gently told them it was time to leave, they flounced out the door yelling about how they were going to talk to someone who knew what they were doing. And not some idiot like me.
I checked the court dockets for a while after that but thankfully never saw anything come of it. I’m assuming all the attorneys in town said no and they finally realized what a terrible idea this was.”
He Wanted Them To Basically Be Out Of His Life
“A couple had two kids: one healthy, and one severely disabled. The one kid needed 24-hour-a-day care. They had more surgeries than birthdays. They would never have a normal life, might maybe possibly learn to speak a word or two eventually, but will never be out of diapers.
The client’s idea of the divorce was that his soon-to-be ex-wife would take the disabled kid and the mother and son would move out of the house. While, 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.
The judge was not impressed.
She 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.”
Being Self-Sufficient Wasn’t In Her Vocabulary
“My client who, in her mid-forties, had never worked a day in her life. She’d gone from her father’s home to her husband’s house. She expected a man to take care of her for the rest of her life. Her husband worked but wasn’t making a ton. The idea she would need to transition into the workforce was so unfair.
In our settlement negotiations when discussing spousal support, I asked her if X amount would be enough.
Her response, screaming in the judge’s conference room and slamming her hand on the table, ‘No! No, it’s not enough! It’s never FREAKIN’ enough!’
The judge’s staff and opposing counsel walked in to make sure she hadn’t knocked me against the wall. The case had been ongoing for over a year at this point and she still hadn’t been able to consider that she would be self-sufficient.
It was the hardest case I’ve ever had because I just couldn’t relate to my client in any way. Feminism completely missed her and having it hit you in the face in your forties must be rough.”
Who Was Really Lying? The Daughter Or The Father?
“I had a client who had visitation with his daughter every two weeks over Skype. He came to me saying she never showed up. So I went to the other side and asked what was going on. They told me how the daughter waited every time, but my client was the one who never showed up. I resent the schedule out to my client and the other lawyer and reminded everyone to show up.
Two weeks later, my client was back telling me how his daughter didn’t show up. I sent the schedule to everyone again with stronger wording about showing up. The other lawyer told me how my client was lying because the daughter had shown up every time, yet he had never even logged on.
We went through this charade a few times and finally, I started 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 emailed me how it was not the right day for the Skype meeting.
This idiot had been signing in on wrong every other week for months and 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, not a whole lot of sympathy.”
A Threat To Everyone, Including The Children
“I had a client whose wife wanted him out of the house. I told him not to leave, just move to a different bedroom for the time being. Because once he was out, the chances of him ever getting back in were slim.
He texted his wife and told her he was staying in the house. She called back and left a voicemail that she wanted him out and if he wasn’t out soon, she would start taking out her unhappiness out on the children. And she would remind the children that mommy was being mean to them because daddy wouldn’t leave.”