Some couples that go through divorce have the strangest demands in terms of what they think they deserve. And the divorce lawyers who have seen it all, are dishing on how crazy some of these demands are...
Trial Over The Family Dog
“I’ve worked on precisely two divorces. They were both awful. The first was just a terribly abusive situation, sadly too common, and not a good source for stories.
The second, though, was a mid-40s, DINK situation. Upper-middle-class engineers, nobody was gonna go hungry at the end of it. Of course, we presumed it’d be a quick, painless negotiation.
Nobody told us that the husband was a raging alcoholic with no social skills. Nobody told us that the wife was very attached to the dog.
We divided up the house, all possessions, the bank accounts, everything in under a week, except for possession of the dog. She was convinced he’d put the dog down. He kept saying it was man’s best friend, not woman’s. This case got slated for trial over who got the dog. I mean, that’s downright extraordinary — that a divorce goes to trial at all is weird. That it goes to trial with no kids is weirder. That it goes to trial where both people are financially stable and well-off is, like, comet-hitting-you unlikely. That it goes to trial solely over the possession of a dog is, so far as I can tell from talking to other attorneys, unheard of.
So, pre-trial conference and the judge is ignorant that any of this is going on. He orders a final attempt at mediation, to begin after lunch. The husband sneaks away from his attorney to have a liquid lunch and comes back absolutely trashed. Starts yelling about how he’s going to go home and kill the dog to deny her it. Tries to jump over the table. Assaults a bailiff. Runs out through an in-session court, with the presiding judge on the bench.
I never did find out how that one ended, as my internship ended before the case did. But I’ll always remember it as the moment I decided that I didn’t want to do family law. Fortunately for me, my current boss doesn’t take those cases whatsoever.”
That’s Not What She Wanted!
“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 is sick of his wife and kids and wants a divorce to run off with a young, hot woman.’
His wife wanted blood.
She came to the mediation with some pretty outrageous demands about the money and property she’d 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, ‘Screw it. Just give her everything she’s asking for and let’s be done with it.’
The mediator went back to the wife’s conference room to share the good news that the husband had caved in, and she FLIPPED THE HECK OUT, glowing incandescent with rage at the idea that her husband was willing to pay truly insane compensation to be done with her and ride off with his little girlfriend.”
Husband’s Loyalty Was To The House Windows?
“I would never disclose a client’s details because, you know, ethics and confidentiality, but I did have a mediation professor who told me this gem and it made an impression. She was mediating a divorce, and the couple was so close to making a settlement. But they never did because of the windows in their house.
You see, they had purchased a lovely Victorian home together. The husband had, I think, lost his job at some point and one of the things he did while unemployed was restoring all the old windows. Very time-consuming and labor-intensive.
Fast forward to the division of assets: They agreed to split the sale of the house equally but he demanded to keep a bit more for the windows, maybe $20,000. She said she should have that money because she was supporting them at the time. He said she could keep the entire house — but he wanted the freakin’ windows. She said he could shove the windows up his…anyway, they went back and forth endlessly while my poor professor tried to mediate them into a neutral area. And the whole agreement fell apart.
Even though mediation costs way less than going to court and saves couples hundreds of hours, they decided to go to court because neither party could give up on those windows. Those restored windows had become this huge symbol encompassing the failure of their marriage, financial acrimony, the husband’s devotion to the house and the wife’s devotion to her career, etc.”
Battle For The Microwave!
“I was sitting in the lobby of the courthouse while my parents were in the courtroom getting divorced.
The couple before my parents had come 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 shut up for a minute and explained to her that her husband was offering her a settlement in which she gets the house, the car, all the money, all the retirement savings, full custody of the kids, the child support she asked for, the alimony she asked for, all 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, and the husband had made clear that if there was any argument about this, at all, he was going to fight tooth and nail for everything because he was offering this so he could walk away. If she made him go through a court battle over those few meager things, he was going to make her pay.
She started screaming in rage that ‘THAT’S MY MICROWAVE! HE CAN’T HAVE MY MICROWAVE!’
The lawyer told her to shut up and take the freakin’ offer because she could go buy another freakin’ microwave (he used the expletive) for less than the cost of the time he will bill her for just to have this discussion. But no, she returned to screaming about ‘MY MICROWAVE! HE CAN’T HAVE MY MICROWAVE!’ and demanded they go back to court and battle it out for the freakin’ microwave, no matter the cost.
People are stupid.”
All That Chaos Over A Pitchfork?
“20+ year divorce lawyer here. I’ve seen it all.
I once represented a husband divorcing his wife of 35+ 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 2 hurricane glasses from Pat O’Brien’s and a pitchfork.
Mediator: ‘She really wants that pitchfork. It was a gift from her daddy.’
Husband: ‘That…Evil Woman! We bought it at Home Depot two years ago!’ …and etc.
They settled at mediation after spending over $1,000 in attorney fees combined for the glasses and pitchfork.
They remarried 3 months later.”
Thousands Of Dollars Arguing Over Chili Pepper Christmas Lights…
“I worked as a video guy and tech at a family law firm for a little over five years. In a small town, they also made me work the murder cases and look tough when the Private Investigator had to serve people, as I look a little rough and my profession is rare here.
I once saw a couple spend $40,000 and two legal mediation meetings, fighting over a set of Christmas lights that look like red chili peppers. Two oil and gas companies, multiple houses, tons of cash…’No DICE she’ll never get those Chili Lights on my watch it’s about principle!’
Separate case: Once saw a family have to divide the monthly Jet Fuel, the brand new Cowboys VIP Box ( the new stadium wasn’t even finished yet…) and a six-page SPREADSHEET of cars ranging from 1960 Austin Healey/ 67 Fastback Shelby Stangs and Ferraris. In cross-examination one of the parties admitted to losing $120,000 over the span of three Cowboys games – 40 grand a game (keep in mind there is no legal way to gamble in Texas so the Jet was needed to travel to another state). This was also the first time I was actually sitting with legal counsel the whole hearing. Most people can keep a poker face but this stuff…nope…Jaw on the floor…The judge kept giving me the ‘fix your life,’ look.
BINDING ARBITRATIONS ARE SO WEIRD! Hanging in the basement of a Hilton for 4 weeks.
I saw a judge order a man to be silenced in the courtroom, via Duct Tape, after being warned that it would happen if he kept his antics up.
I once watched a judge overturn a jury verdict 6 weeks later. Which while I know can happen, in this case, it shouldn’t have…but money talks.
While all of this was absurd…every freakin’ day is the saddest most screwed up day you can ever imagine. Abused kids, wrecked marriages, drug addiction etc. And my job was to comb the Facebooks, clone the iPhones to mine the data, take photos of bruises, and all-nighters in bars, spying on people.
I would also have to listen to hidden audio recorders during every heated fight before the separation, cherry picking stuff we can use in court, and filming people breakdown during a deposition..all while people spend over 50 grand or more to live through this!
Screw that job! I walked out one day and never felt better.”
The Woman Lost More Than She Bargained For
“My friend wanted a divorce from his wife, now one thing about Korean divorce law is there is no alimony or anything. It’s also fairly male friendly, especially if no kids are involved. There can be settlements where a party has to pay X amount or whatever. The only way a spouse can get a guaranteed sum of money is if the spouse increased the net worth of the other spouse.
So let’s say you’re a wife and you marry your husband who has a small company, and with your involvement, the husband grows the company from $50000 a year to $5,000,000. Well, you can sue your husband for a portion of that $5,000,000.
Anyway, my friend married his wife, they were married for 4 years and things just weren’t working out. So he moved out and they started the divorce process. My friend was a good man and continued to support her throughout the process (paid her rent, and her bills).
The wife was greedy though, my friend had offered her $20,000 as a one-time settlement (this was a HUGE CHUNK of money to him) the wife angrily demanded $30,000 and would refuse to budge.
They went to court, their cases were presented. The husband said he was willing to give the woman $20,000 in return for a divorce. The wife demanded $30,000 as compensation. The lawyers argued that the husband had gone above and beyond with supporting his wife even after separation and it was unfair to demand more. The judge asked the woman if she would accept $20,000 the woman replied no the judge said: ‘Then it will be $0. The divorce is finalized’ stamp it and then it’s done.
My buddy walked out of the courthouse, then the wife attacked him, my friend filed assault charges against her and successfully won a $3,000 judgment from her.”
Getting Crazy Over The Ashtray From Vegas…
“I had a husband and wife go toe to toe over an ashtray they got in Vegas at some point (neither smoked strangely enough). Spent nearly $5,000 for me and another attorney to duke it out in court over the silly thing.
Prior to proceeding, I explained what the cost would be for to argue over something silly like this and that he could give me $2,500 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 much more than $2,500.
People get crazy in divorce proceedings!”
The Big Spoon?
When I was in school, one of my law professors, told us why he’ll never work in family law. He called it the big spoon problem.
His coworker was acting as a divorce lawyer for a couple, but the reality was that he was the husband’s attorney, so he asked my professor to stand in as an attorney for the wife, to protect her interests. Everything had been worked out, and the settlement was ready to go, when the wife suddenly asked, ‘Wait…what about the big wooden fork and spoon?’
See, the couple had one of those big fork and spoon sets you hang in your kitchen, and they hadn’t included who got it in the settlement agreement. They exploded at each other, each arguing heatedly why they should get the pair, and both agreeing that they couldn’t be split up. Eventually, they almost came to blows, my professors stepped in between, and it got him punched in the face by the woman.
Settlement agreements broke down afterwards, and it had to go to court. Obviously, the problems were more serious than who got the big wooden fork and spoon, but its amazing how a catalyst like that can set some people off.
Sued Over A Casserole Recipe…
“My father sued my mother for, among other things, a tuna noodle casserole recipe.
She dropped off a can of cream of mushroom soup at his lawyer’s office, the recipe was on the back. Nobody in our family even ate it, except during Lent. He also wanted my 16-year-old sister taken off his life insurance, saying he had to make his new wife his sole beneficiary. And he asked if he could ‘run the divorce papers down to the court clerk to save time, getting them filed.’ He had honeymoon reservations made already for a cruise, following his new wedding in a few days.
Grandma Hired A Private Investigator
“My grandfather went through a pretty high stakes divorce about 10 years ago. He founded a consulting firm in 1994 that ended up being worth several million dollars. He was married to his second wife (not my grandmother, who was his first wife whom he divorced in the 80s) when he found it. She was (is) an executive for a large health and beauty product company. They were both very successful. When they divorced, they had been living in a very large house in an exclusive neighborhood in an affluent southern suburb.
She got the house and kept her wealth that she had amassed from her company. But that wasn’t it. She also wanted 51% of my grandfather’s company. She didn’t win that in court because she had already won more than half of the assets. I doubt my grandfather really gave a care about that, but I could be wrong. He just wanted to keep his company which already made him plenty of money.
Things got interesting after they separated. She allegedly hired a private investigator to stalk my grandfather. Yes, stalk. We found a tracking device attached to his car. No BS. He moved into an apartment for a while during the divorce proceedings. She and her lawyer eventually went to his apartment to take pictures of everything he owned. He obviously let them into his apartment. They even opened up his fridge and took pictures of the inside of his fridge. My grandfather eventually started dating somebody else (Yes, at around age 60. He likes women). The ex-wife would call my grandfather’s house and talk to her, trying to appear friendly, or something. It was just a very strange situation.
It was even stranger for me. I had grown up with her sort of as my grandmother. I never knew she wasn’t my actual grandmother until I met my dad’s actual mom at age 7 (I didn’t meet my father until age 6, mind you). It was kind of confusing until the divorce. But during and after the divorce, my grandfather’s ex would call my mother to ask to take me out to dinner, and movies, and things like that. I remember seeing Star Wars: Episode 3, in theaters with her. I didn’t find it strange, or anything. She had known me since I was born and served as a grandmotherly figure. However, my father hated her.
I heard a lot of stories of the crazy stuff that she did to him when my dad was a teenager. I haven’t talked to her for several years. I much prefer my actual grandmother.
Divorce is strange. Seeing how easily it can tear families apart, and screw over individuals, I’m definitely doing a prenup when/if I get married. You never know…”
Supporting His Gambling Addiction?
“Back when I was in law school I was a clerk for a judge that heard a lot of divorce cases.
The craziest one involved a gambling addict.
The guy would write ridiculous checks to the local casino ($20K, $30K, even $100K+) all the time. The wife admitted to going with him to the casino each time but said she only played the penny slots and had no idea he was spending that much money. Because they were splitting the remaining assets (that were still substantial) she wanted the money he spent at the casino to count against him so she would get a whole lot more. While there were copies of the checks, it was his word against hers, as to whether she knew about them and whether she was also playing the high-stakes games. The husband said she knew and she played the high-stakes games too.
I remember the oral hearing was the last week that I worked there, so I never heard how it turned out. I do, however, remember the judge thought they were both lying (which all good judges always believe).”
How The Dad Got Full Custody Of His Kids
“So the husband and wife split, two kids (one of each). They had been having a rocky marriage and he was having an even rockier time at work, so even more stress. When they split she had full custody of the kids but he got weekly visit and alternating holidays.
The mother was (and is) a full on whack-a-do, she spent nearly all the time she had with the kids berating their father in one way or another.
Two-three years down the line, he strikes it big.
Suddenly he has his own business, owns several houses in the pricier neighborhood and even buys a house in the country club. She comes back SWINGING, demanding more alimony and more child support, saying this was all from framework she helped lay when the years still together, it’s freakin’ nuts.
Backfires on her HARD.
Custody suddenly becomes a full half/half. He agrees to pay her some support to cover the kids when they are with her and then in a surprise move says, ‘You hate living in our old house, I own these houses. Pick one and you can live rent free because it is also a home for our kids.’ He literally covers all the bills, best TV and internet, power, water, and taxes all paid.
At some point the dad has remarried and was planning on moving to another state. Well, the ex-wife was having none of this and actually had the custody agreement amended so that they both had to live in the same freakin’ county to make it easier. (Never mind that he was willing to keep her in the house, let the kids stay the school year there then fly them on a private plane to his home for whatever holiday or spring break or summer vacation or even fly back himself from time to time, she was having none of it).
So the ex-wife has some full-blown issues, which I won’t go into, but she ended up spending most of her days complaining to the kids about their father whenever they were around. She seriously pulled the ‘He has a new family’ stunt and much worse, one kid ends up turning to narcotics and worse. His grades fail, his life spirals. She blames dad. Why? Because dad was the one who had money, the kid would say, ‘I want to go hang with my friends. Can I have a little cash?’ and dad would hand him a $50 (or bigger), well he was hanging out alright. So when all of that hits a boil (mind you they are STILL in and out of court over her wanting more alimony, her wanting full custody, her wanting to make his life horrible) they ship the kid off to rehab.
What should have been a 30 day program doubles. Then it doubles again. Why? Because they had to bring in three therapists to deal with all the baggage this kid had to unload.
The courts are more and more angry with every update on his status until, finally, they force the parents to go to counseling. The dad finds the best of the best and actually flies him and his ex to another state so this person can break apart every little issue. At this point she is just as much taking advantage of his gullibility as well as his cash. The counseling works but only for a bit.
The kid gets out of rehab and starts school again. Meanwhile, his younger sister has basically found all her emotional support outside of the family: on four different sports teams, almost never home, only around mother when she needs a ride to and from events and school (rich kids don’t ride the bus after all). Things cool down and go back to dad footing the bill for the house, and the childcare, but the ex-wife is just resting her eyes.
This is where I came in, I was brought in to help the kid in school (he was seriously behind and stunted, but somewhat smart for his age, just royally screwed). Things are going well, I find out all the crazy stuff from above, over the course of a month, but stick around because for a 10-12 hour a week job, I was making $30k a year. We are working from the dad’s home daily after school. One month into it, the dad takes a spill at work, hurts his neck BAD (he later needed surgery and they thought they needed to fuse 3 vertebrae). He ends up getting some serious painkillers for the between time and suddenly the ex’s nutjob health bar has been replenished. In two days she has forced the kid to move in with her 100% because the pills ‘would be too much temptation’ (She was just planning for her next phase).
From that day on, I was working from her house. I mean, it was still a great paying job and I had a contract with her, the dad, and the kid. It gave me some fair authority when it came to the study environment. She is still suing him for full custody, now saying dad is an addict for the painkillers. The court is forced to send in a child counselor who spends all of 15 minutes with each kid and another hour with her; Says, ‘No, the kids are in no danger,’ which means the ex-wife can’t force the custody issue. She is angry and starts screaming at her lawyers over the phone daily until they can force the judge to appoint, not only a new counselor but new child advocates because the two (one for each kid) were agreeing with the first counselor and were clearly bought off.
Months go by, same thing, she starts accusing the dad of pushing the court dates but it is obvious she keeps rescheduling every time she finds out he has a doctor appointment so that he has to reschedule. She wants custody, she wants money, but she is also happy forcing him to pay all her bills.
Four months down the line and it comes to light that she is not only still screwing around, she has been sending him harassing texts about how she is going to get custody of the kids and move far far away so that he has to blow through cash to see them for holidays, and worse.
Finally, his surgery is scheduled, the court date is scheduled and can’t be pushed anymore. Everyone comes into town because her family are enabling her behavior. She has the nerve to ask me to sign a statement in regards to the child advocates. This was after I had to sit listening to her BS for all of those months. This lady didn’t realize that I was (and have been) trying to work and help out her kid (he made some progress but it has been 4 months at her place vs a month at the dad’s place). The progress made in both sections was equal; SHE SLOWED HER KIDS PACE TO AT LEAST 1/4 WHAT HE WAS CAPABLE OF.
I sign a statement directly to the child advocates about what I have seen, heard, and my opinion.
Everything. Hits. Fan.
She loses BADLY. The judge refuses to grant full custody and says the dad is not primary care provider. Ex-wife gets mad and says, ‘Fine, I am moving. You’ll just have to ship the kids to see me for my holidays.’ His lawyers fire back, ‘You can’t move, you had the amendment that you both have to live in the same county for joint custody.’ She freaks out in the courtroom, ends up in contempt.
The judge gives the dad full custody (six years after the freakin’ divorce) and reduces her alimony PLUS reduces it, even more, to account for the money she now needs to pay in child support.”