Divorce is never easy. Even the most congenial of cases involves a lot of paper work and patience. But we are not here today to discuss these boring, friendly separations because what fun are those? There aren’t movies based on those. We want drama. We want fighting and screaming and threatening each other’s pets. So without further adieu, here are some of the craziest divorce cases, as told by the lawyers who saw them.
1. News Anchors are So Touchy
I worked for a judge. Two prominent local news people had a divorce. They filed mutual restraining orders against each other for “violence.” The filings were vague on details, but still somehow conveyed a sense of Shiloh or Antietam levels of blood. When it came time for the hearing, it turned out the “violence” was spitting. More specifically, during a heated argument, flecks of spittle managed to touch the other party. Judge denied the restraining orders, and both parties’ attorneys probably bought new yachts. Such is justice.
2. Make It As Ugly As Possible
30+ years of unrelenting fighting that divided the family into who talks to which parent, complete with long periods of not speaking to one another and family members not speaking to the people who won’t speak to the family members that they like and vice versa. Some people talk to the mom and some talk to the dad, but you can’t talk to them both, not allowed. God forbid you ever mention one to the other. It’s a war and it totally f&cked their kids up. It won’t end until both parties are dead and in the ground.
3. That’s Why You Do a Background Check on Your Dates
Man and his fiancé are buying a house together. They get to the paper where you sign off on all your aliases. The woman has a full page of former names. The guy asks, “What is this?” The woman nonchalantly says, “Oh, I’ve been married five times before.” The guy gets up and walks out. Needless to say they did not buy the house or stay together.
4. The Law Can Be a Dangerous Profession
My father was a divorce attorney and the husband of the woman he was representing once called him at his office. The husband said, “You have ruined my life and I’m going to ruin yours, you better watch your little ones tonight.” My Dad stayed up most of the night with a baseball bat.
5. That’s Just Terrible
One guy had his wife served with the divorce papers while she was in the hospital undergoing cancer treatment. She had no idea he wanted a divorce.
6. Petty Revenge
A man wanted a provision in his divorce that said his sons couldn’t watch NASCAR because the wife’s new boyfriend was into NASCAR. In the same case, the property division was so contentious that the judge had the parties list every piece of furniture in the house and try to work through who would get what. The guy made sure that he wanted everything she did, down to things like lace doilies her grandma made and some trophy she won in a women’s shooting competition (“I bought her the gun so its pretty much my trophy”).
7. Now That’s an Interesting Headline
I think the most entertaining one was when a guy had to divorce his wife via newspaper because she wouldn’t leave the house or answer the door for the process server.
8. Doesn’t Sound Like He’d Be a Danger to His Family
Had a client seeking a protective order from her ex-husband. We had an initial interview and I got paperwork filed. Between filing and the scheduled hearing, she called me. She started rambling and when she calmed down, she told me her ex had been arrested for murdering his brother. Even with bigger fish to fry, he insisted on attending the protective order hearing while in custody (which is his right but a terrible idea because anything he says on the record can be used by prosecutors). He shows up in his prison jumpsuit and handcuffs and takes every opportunity to talk about how my client would get drunk and start fights with him and he had to “give her a slap to shut her up.” He’s currently serving a life sentence after being convicted of second-degree murder and several other felonies.
9. That’s Why You Check Your Blind Spots
The truly surreal case for me was a post decree case where a husband sought reduction of his unallocated family support obligation after he was fired from a six figure salary as a public school principal. He was jerking off in his car while driving and was observed by most of the people in a school bus that was much higher than his car. The legal issue was whether his change in employment was in bad faith. After a three-hour hearing, the court felt that it was.
10. This is Even More Petty
A man came into the family law firm I was working in and says his wife was cheating on him. He’s extremely rich and wants to get divorced. The lawyer proceeds to ask him about his assets and what he wants to keep. He says that she can have the house, the car, the boat, the kids etc. The lawyer asks him what he wants to keep then, given that he doesn’t seem to want anything. The man angrily responds, “She only loves her dog. I want her to suffer so I want the court to order that the dog be taken away from her and cremated. She can have 50% of the ashes and I’ll have the other 50%.” Somehow this prince among men is getting divorced.
11. Good Thing This Lawyer Picked Up
“Hi, can I kick my pregnant girlfriend out of the house?”
“You really shouldn’t do that.”
“But can I? Legally speaking?”
“Since you never married, and the home is in your name, yes, you can legally exclude her but you really shouldn’t.”
“Thanks - I need you to explain that to someone.”
Client opens door, where police are getting ready with a ram, hands cellphone to police officer.
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