Divorces can be a civil proceeding but some people take it too far.
Below, several divorce lawyers share the worst way someone screwed over their spouse. Check it out.
Bad separation, wife filed a restraining order on the husband (very common, wasn’t a terrible guy but not great either). A year into the divorce his mother was dying, he asked his sister to speak with his ex-wife and ask to bring the kids to see her in the hospital before she died. The wife never did, instead she went to the court and said he violated the restraining order by trying to contact her (you can’t contact someone through another party).
He admitted it and explained the situation, but was found in breach of the order. His mother died while he was locked up and the wife never brought the kids to see her.
I did some consulting work for two divorce attorneys when I was in grad school.
Their client was a career airline pilot. His wife worked part time so there was a huge income disparity. It was an ugly divorce.
During the process but before the final decree, tax time rolled around. The wife’s attorney calls my guys and says, “Her accountant just called. If they can just share their W-2’s and file jointly, they each stand to save about $8000 over married filing separately.”
My guys took that info to the husband. He says, “Screw her. Losing $8000 is going to be way worse for her than it will be for me.” Cold as ice, man.
Banker here; had heaps of situations where joint overdraft/credit card comes up just before divorce to the absolute surprise of one of the parties. Drained down to zero, of course. Especially sad when it’s students/ young kids who find themselves heartbroken after the break up AND with a debt they can’t afford.
My dad basically appealed custody over and over, bringing in new friends to back his character. This forced my mum to seek a barrister/lawyer to defend herself.
My dad is/was a massive problem gambler – had no permanent home and was pretty shit at practical life stuff (nutrition, education, etc.)
This forced my mum to dig into all her savings to pay legal fees to keep a child anybody with a sound mind would know is much more capable than my dad.
So in the end my dad basically made my mother bankrupt trying to get custody over a child he wouldn’t have been able to raise.
My in-laws are mega into food and wine, as in they literally travel the world on food and wine tours, are part of clubs, etc. They told me about a nasty divorce where the husband was the wine aficionado, not the wife, but the wife was pissed off about getting divorced. The husband got all the wines in their extensive cellar, but before he was able to correct them, the wife soaked every bottle to remove ALL of the labels. So technically the wine was not damaged, but the husband had no way to know what he was drinking for aging and pairing purposes (which is a huge deal to wine drinkers).
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Dad was a real jerk and mom tried to save him a lot of money during the divorce. They have 3 kids who were 16, 13, and 8. Dad wouldn’t sign ANY agreement my moms lawyer produced. It had to be his idea and from his lawyer or it wasn’t getting signed. Dads lawyer was incompetent and sends an agreement that states he will pay $2,000 a month in child support until all kids are 18. Mom tried to explain to dad that it needed to be revised to lower every time a child turned 18. Mom said screw it and signed the agreement and dad paid the $2,000/month for 10 years when he should’ve been paying around $1,400/month for 5 years and $700/month for the last 5 years.
Nasty divorce/custody case. Dad was a real piece of work, mom had her problems too – difference is mom knew she had problems and was trying to work on them. Night before a hearing, dad completely set off mom. Mom takes a pill (anxiety med of some sort) before court to calm herself down, and ends up loopy. She’s in court, just in a daze. Dad tries to argue she’s drunk and all kinds of other false claims.
Judge ordered drug testing, and mom was clean. Dad then goes on to spend thousands of dollars having a PI follow mom to “prove” she’s unfit. It all backfired though. PI found she was getting psych help for her issues (which actually helped mom), and dad had to explain to the judge why he had thousands to pay a PI but was arguing to not have to pay child support.
The whole situation was screwed up and took way too long, but dad’s case just crumbled beneath him.
Over here in the Netherlands, most legal costs are paid for by the government if your income is below a certain threshold. In practice this means that if one of the spouses in a divorce has little to no income and the other one has a normal income, the one with the normal income will have to pay a lot of the process drags on.
Considering there are plenty of ways to drag it on, I’ve seen cases approach ridiculous amounts of billable hours. There is a catch to this however. Your lawyer is paid a set amount if he/she is paid by the government. However, should the money you receive after a divorce or w/e exceed a certain number, you are expected to pay your own lawyer (which is the reason we still keep track of the hours in these cases). So this one woman who thought she was screwing over her ex husband by dragging the divorce over multiple years got a payout of ~40k by the end of it. Unfortunately for her she had to surrender most of that straight back in lawyer costs. There was a certain sense of justice in there.
Also proves time and again that when there is conflict the only true winners are usually the lawyers.
Not a lawyer, but I met with a scummy one when I was looking to get a divorce. The first lawyer I met with, who had been recommended by a coworker as an amazing divorce attorney, suggested that, if I wanted full custody, I should make sure people knew the relationship was abusive. Tell my friends/family, make sure the neighbors heard me screaming/begging him not to hit me, document every bruise even if I wasn’t sure it came from him. Thing is, my relationship wasn’t abusive and I’d already told her that multiple times. She never outright said I should fabricate evidence or anything, but she ignored my repeated statements that there was no abuse and kept on with her detailed instructions of how to document any abuse that might happen. I got the distinct impression that she was letting me know how to create an abusive relationship out of thin-air in order to get custody of my kids.
I ended up not using her as an attorney, for obvious reasons, and in the end my ex and I shared 50/50 physical and legal custody of our children and raised them together despite whatever issues we had with each other. I can’t help but wonder, though, how many dads lost a relationship with their kids because of her zealous coaching.
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My dad actually got screwed over by his divorce lawyer during my parents’ divorce last year.
My dad and my sister have never gotten along, and over the years it got more and more strained. In this case, my mom was OBVIOUSLY going to get full custody of my sister. My mom also wanted to give my dad the house, and his cars, and his money pit of a boat.
Lawyer decided, because my dad is stubborn, that he would string ol’ dad along. Lawyer spent HOURS with my dad trying to convince him that Dad could get more money and custody from my mom.
They did a divorce mediation (so they wouldn’t have to go to court), and lawyer dragged it out for 4 hours. The whole time he was riling my dad up, thinking he could get things like the original down payment on the house, half custody of my sister, my mom’s car, etc. At the end of the 4 hours of mediation, Lawyer told my dad he should take the deal that my mom and her lawyer had originally offered in the first place, and Dad signed that.
So he paid about $12,000 in completely unnecessary legal fees.
Guy was married to a woman who screwed another guy, had that other guy’s baby, and never told the husband, then for other reasons they start divorce proceedings, a paternity test is done, the husband finds out the kid isn’t his, and the courts rule that he still has to pay child support, because it is in the best interests of the kid.
I had a patient who was in the army. He was telling me that he had a wife in the army divorce him after something like 10 years. The military court ordered that he give her some of his pension. So instead of continuing all the way to his 20 and actually being entitled to his pension, he stopped short after 17 years. Then he got a job at the post office and they applied his federal service to their pension system. The ex never saw a dime.
Also not a divorce lawyer, but my friend’s husband really screwed her over. He kept telling her he believed she had postpartum depression after having their kid. Finally, she agreed to go seek help since he kept putting it in her head. After like 3 months of therapy/doctor’s appointments, he took her records to his divorce lawyer and is currently fighting for full custody because she is unfit.
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Not a divorce lawyer, but I did surgical rotations with an OB/Gyn, and have personally seen the lowest of the low:
In divorce hearings, people say a lot of crap when trying to place blame or get custody. A lot of it is straight up lies. Not all lies can be erased or taken back. The worst one is an accusation of sexual abuse. YOU CAN NOT REDACT AN ACCUSATION OF SEXUAL ABUSE AGAINST A MINOR.
It happened ridiculously more frequently than I can stomach. A spouse, trying to get the upper hand, makes the claim. Now the lawyer/court/state is bound by law to investigate. And suddenly that precious, innocent child that mommy is trying to gain custody of is brought to the OR, sedated, and then investigated inside and out for evidence of abuse.
Those are about the only days that nobody in the entire wing says anything. No jokes, no smiles. Just a sick feeling in your stomach that takes away all appetite and joy.
So many times, the parent who makes the accusation finds out what they’re about to put the child through, and tries to take it back. Tries to cancel the procedure, tries to say they may have been confused or mistaken, or even admits they flat out lied. Doesn’t matter. Once that box is opened, the investigation must continue.
Of the couple dozen cases I saw, I can only recall one that supported the accusation.
My step dad has been divorced twice before, both marriages had kids involved. First divorce was mutual, and had shared custody of the kids, second was because he was cheated on and also involved shared custody of kids.
Wife #1 lived out of state, and kept no-showing, forcing costly legal action every time he wanted to see his kid. Wife #2 was initially supportive of him through this, until they had kids themselves and the cost became too much. Wife #1 wanted him to give up legal rights to their kids, and after years and years of legal battles that nearly bankrupted them, Wife #2 basically gave him an ultimatum – give up the kids, or get divorced. He knew that getting divorced from wife #2 could result in him never seeing his other kids either so eventually he was forced into giving up kid #1.
A few years later Wife #2 cheats on him, they get divorced, wife #2 tells the kids it was him that cheated, but to never mention it to him in case he gets angry. Initially they were splitting custody very evenly, but eventually wife #2 figured out that she would get more money if she was technically sole custodian, and he would see them on that basis because he loves his children. So to arrange for this to happen she accused him of molesting their youngest child, then used that accusation to gain full custody before the charge was dropped due to total lack of evidence. Then she tells the kids that he did molest them, again something he didn’t know she told them for years.
Upshot is that he was forced to give up first kids permanently by one wife, and then second wife had the rest of his kids think he was a cheater and sexual predator, and thus be terrified of him and never truly love him, so she could save face and pick up a larger check.
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Worked at a law firm that was subpoenaed as part of a divorce between a partner at the firm and a partner at another major law firm.
The woman issued more than 70 subpoenas to banks, firms, investment companies — you name it — because she was convinced he had squirreled away $20+ million overseas behind her back. It got so bad that she dug up receipts from 25 years ago to try to put together this grand conspiracy puzzle.
In the end, after she racked up $1.5 million in legal fees, and 7 different lawyers, the judge said this shit is ridiculous — there was no conspiracy, and you are not entitled to a portion of this phantom $20 million.
Mind you: this was a major law firm partner who was acting this way. She made millions per year in her career. But she apparently lost her mind.
Not a lawyer. Wife cheats on her husband during his frequent travels for work. She files for divorce and gets to keep the house. Months elapse and the husband is still rightfully pissed but has no recourse. Then he has an epiphany: “I wonder if she changed the password to the Nest Thermostat?” She did not.
For the next year he continues to mess with the thermostat. In the middle of summer when they’re sleeping in HIS bed, he turns the heat on to 90 degrees at 3 a.m. Middle of winter? Time to shut off the heat and hope the pipes freeze. Away on vacation? Turn the air conditioning down to 55 and let it run 24/7 for a nice surprise bill when they get home.
Not a lawyer, but when I was a kid my parents got divorced. My mom met a guy on the internet and left my dad for him. My sisters and I were all teenagers and being that my mom had never really been around decided that we all wanted to live with him. We all had to write a letter stating our wishes and it was understood that we would stay with him – my mom didn’t even seem to care.
Additionally, my dad had this retirement account from his old job – he wasn’t rich at all and had worked his ass off for everything he’d ever had. When he got hurt on the job he could have sued, but was promised that in exchange for him not suing, they’d keep him around. Instead they canned him and he left with about $100k (I think) in a 401-k type account that he’d been saving for nearly 30 years.
Lastly, my dad had his house. It was a 3 bedroom, 1 bath brick house that was all of about 800 SF. It wasn’t much at all, but my dad loved the place. My mom couldn’t stand that house and wanted to move for as long as I could remember – that was another contentious subject that led to the divorce. He’d been paying on it forever and when he left his old job, he took out a small chunk and paid it off.
Anyway, their separation is progressing and it’s understood we’re living with him. She was so in love with this internet guy that she didn’t care. He was in school halfway around the country and she was going to move there to be with him; we knew we’d get by just fine. They seemed amicable and it was understood how this would all play out.
The day in court finally comes and instead of what we all assumed, even my dad’s lawyer – she goes to the court with all these crazy claims. He was an abusive alcoholic, he beat us and my mom nightly, he was crazy and no one would be safe in his care. My mom got full custody, she got 50% of his house and 50% of his retirement account. My dad was stunned – that judgement would basically bankrupt him – in order for him to keep the house, he’d essentially have to clean out his retirement account and give her everything.
The night of their divorce I went over to see him. He was almost catatonic – he just stared off in space the entire time and would mumble whenever I asked him a question. I’ve never seen anyone like that ever. My birthday was 2 days away and I asked if he wanted to do something for my birthday and he just answered with “your mom has full custody. I will if she allows me to see you.” I asked if I could drive his old truck to school, since I didn’t yet have a car and he just said no, that I needed to call my mom and have her pick me up. So that’s what I did.
And the next day in school, the day before my birthday, I’m sitting in our lunchroom when I hear “hey, isn’t that your grandpa?” From a buddy of mine. I look over and see my grandpa and a cop making their way across the lunchroom toward me. They told me to grab my stuff and in the office I found my sister there as well. We rode home with them, where we were also met by my little sister and that’s where they told us that our dad had killed himself, shortly after I left the previous night.
To make matters worse, it all happened so quickly that nothing had been finalized. My mom dropped all her paperwork and legally became a widow and got everything – house, retirement and his insurance policy. She also got social security benefits for us, a fact we didn’t find out until much later. She basically took all the money and moved across the country with her new man, leaving us to care for ourselves for the most part.
And to this day, when asked about raising us, she’ll spin this story of a young widow, doing her best to raise three kids on her own.
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Story from my parents who are lawyers. So throughout the divorce proceedings, there was a car that was a huge point of contention between the husband and wife. After months and months of saying he would never let the wife have the car, the husband concedes in exchange for something great, like one of their summer houses. It turns out he had been driving the car for 3 hours everyday in a big loop around the city, putting thousands and thousands of miles on it basically making it worthless. The amount of planning and spite that went into that was amazing.
I’m an accountant not a divorce lawyer. Had a client hide Ziploc bags of ground meat throughout the house (in air vents, the attic, behind water heater etc.) I think it was at least 20-30 bags that took months to find all of them.
No lawyer, but at the time I worked on bank equipment, my favorite was opening safety deposit boxes for the bank. Do I was asked to get there before the bank opened which was odd. I show up and greet the bank employee along with a lawyer and a very angry looking woman. I get the lock open and swing the door open as the angry woman shouts “let me in there!” And I step outside the vault. “That jerk!” And storms off, but she threw down a piece of paper that said “Screw you”. It had been a nasty divorce and the ex husband got there before she did.
Not a lawyer but my two bosses were married and opened a bike shop together. He was the brains and the backbone since he was a former Olympic mechanic, she just sort of balanced the checkbook and worked a couple days a week. Unfortunately, he had no credit and she did, so when they opened everything was in her name.
All he wanted in the divorce was the bike shop and was willing to buy her half. She wanted the bike shop too, but didn’t want to buy him out for his half. Mind you, her father passed away and she was sitting on like $300k in the bank (and also had the audacity to take out student loans for her daughter to go to college).
He lost the bike shop and I think he got a little bit of money for his share. What she didn’t expect was that all of the high-paying customers would stop going there. They were all his friends or they only wanted him to work on their bikes (so I don’t know why she would have had that notion). So he opened up his own bike shop and all of the “regulars” have become regulars at the new bike shop.