So, here are some nasty ways couples betrayed each other, according to divorce lawyers:
Warning: Some stories include topics of domestic violence and child abuse. Please proceed with caution.
1."My client's spouse accused him of giving his deceased wife cancer. I represented a guy who was on his second marriage — his first wife passed away from cancer, and him 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), but it was all a facade. To make a long story about a lengthy divorce short, my client met a very kind and affectionate woman during this case. They really hit it off and were basically engaged (even though his divorce was far from over). His new 'fiancé' 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 that my client had killed his first wife by giving her cancer, and that he was doing the same thing to his new 'fiancé.'
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 wild 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, her attorney's look of shame/embarrassment, the judge's look of confusion, and my look of awe-inspired disgust."
2."A husband and wife divorced after the husband found out his wife was sexting other guys. He goes into a deep depression. They didn't have much — lots of debt and two dogs. One was a dog he had had since before the marriage, and the other dog was only about three years old and was bought to keep the older seven-year-old dog company while they worked. The wife demanded that since he got his dog that she got the other. He is depressed and just wants to move on, so he agrees. She gets the dog and has it put down the next day — she didn't want the dog. She just wanted to hurt him."
3."The guy didn't want to break up with his girlfriend — she kept 'nagging him' about marriage. But, he didn't want to marry her. So, he told her they'd have a 'destination wedding' on a tropical island with a local ceremony, and it'd be very romantic. And they did, except he just hired some resort staff member to pretend to officiate a marriage ceremony, and no marriage contract was ever drawn up. The guy died years later, his 'wife' found out they were never married, and wasn't in the will."
4."I work for a divorce attorney now, but the 'craziest' thing came to my attention when I worked for the prosecuting attorney. This couple was breaking up, and the husband left the house. The wife went to work the next morning as usual. When she returned home in the evening, she found the husband had been to the house and removed his clothing and belongings (as she expected). What she didn't expect was that he had also Gorilla-Glued her belongings together. He glued the TV remote to the table, the phone to its cradle, the couch pillows to the couch, and even glued the vacuum cleaner to the carpet. She called the police and reported this as property damage."
"The police went with her through the house documenting dozens of items glued to various things, but for days she was discovering random things and she would call to amend or update her report.
'My goddamn oven mitts were glued to the wall' or 'he glued the effing sheets together in the linen closet!' I've seen people do and say really awful things to each other, but this was diabolical."
5."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 on the children. She would remind the children that mommy was being mean to them because 'daddy wouldn't leave.'"
"101 on how to lose custody."
6."I articled at a family law firm, and have thankfully moved on since. 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, and got a huge settlement afterwards. 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, telling him they were something benign so he'd sign them. 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 was left with nothing. I moved on before I found out how the story ended."
7."Paralegal for divorce lawyer (warning: this one is morbid). We represented a guy who believed vehemently that his wife was assaulting the children. The authorities and child services were involved. It was never clear what the truth was or if anything was going on at all, but our client was sure. He shot his wife dead at a custody exchange in front of the children. He then sat down and waited for the authorities. We visited him in jail with his criminal defense attorney, and as we were leaving, he told me, 'Well, I guess the divorce is over now.' He laughed. This was the first time I had ever been speechless."
8."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 dick. 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 'crazy' ex bought a cat during his time with their kids, except he wasn't allowed to have pets in his apartment. He sends the kids back to their mom’s house with the cat and all of its stuff. The mom is pissed because she didn’t want a cat at all, plus her boyfriend is very allergic. She calls us asking what to do because her kids are bawling, saying that she can’t get rid of their new 'sibling' and she has the cat in the garage. Her ex told kids, 'If mommy loves you, she’ll let you keep the cat since daddy is not allowed to have cats in his apartment."
"My ex pulled a stunt like that. When we split, I moved to an apartment with no pets and he moved to a bush property — so he was elected to keep the dog. A year later, his new partner had three dogs. So on the Friday afternoon swap for our son, he handed me my son and said he was walking the dog. I was excited to see the dog and gave him a quick cuddle.
My ex bolted to the car and left. His new girlfriend didn’t want 'our dog,' so they left him with me. Except it was Friday night and I got to the apartment, and they refused to let us in. So, we had to give the dog a new home that night. My son was inconsolable — it was a nasty act."
9."Divorce lawyer here. A husband had been out of the house for weeks. She waited until he was on a business trip, came into the house, turned on all of the faucets, plugged the drains, turned off the furnace, and left. It was -10 degrees . He came back five days later, and the house was ruined. The water froze and cracked the foundation."
10."My grandpa's second wife divorced him a few months before he died and started dating her next husband, but no one ever told my grandpa it happened. She'd come to the nursing home to visit and give him kisses, but behind his back she made sure that she divorced him and got him on Medicaid before the nursing home could bill her for his care and take HER money. I was so mad when I found out that my dad and brothers knew about it and also lied to him in omission because she paid them off to keep quiet. She was not poor, either — just a greedy liar."
11."I once had a boss who had to leave his house for six hours while his ex-wife grabbed all the belongings she was legally entitled too. When he returned home, every door knob and handle was gone. Yes — door knobs, cabinet handles, drawer handles, and anything that was screwed onto something and used to open it. She had taken it all. Every day for the next week he would occasionally yell out, 'SHE TOOK THE FUCKING KNOBS.'"
12."A soon-to-be ex-husband left his wife's prized Koi fish to die on the doorstep of their house. Apparently the value of these fish (six in total) was over $100,000. She was, according to her lawyer, so distraught that she couldn't be in court. Only in L.A...."
13."Early in my career, my then-boss would take a divorce case from time to time to help out a friend or acquaintance, and I would assist on occasion. For any type of litigation, the parties exchange written questions as part of discovery. I was reviewing the wife's answers to her discovery requests, and assisted the husband with answering his questions. We got to the part where it asked about engaging in extramarital sexual relations. The husband told me that he recently saw a sex worker, but 'don't worry, it was in Canada — so it's okay.' I just nodded and took notes."
"In going over the wife's answers, she listed bestiality as a factor that led to the breakdown of the relationship. I asked the husband about this (because I have to know what other issues would've come to light), and he told me he got really drunk one night after they separated, called her up, and told her he 'fucked a goat.'
But, he swore he didn't actually do that. I was really professional and kept a straight face during the meeting, but my boss and I laughed about that for ages."
14."My mom was a private mediator. She had a case where a cheated-on spouse cut the crotch out of every pair of their soon-to-be ex's pants when returning possessions from the shared home. Divorcing couple was worth enough that this was not a huge deal, and that party’s lawyer immediately accepted financial responsibility for the damages once brought up."
15.And: "A husband who lived on the east coast had a listed income of $1.5 million. He cheated on his wife 10 times. Almost at the end of the divorce process, it was learned that the husband had another family in Seattle, a different name, and another $14 million salary in tech (his vested stock options under the second identity were worth $214 million). How was he discovered living this double life? His wife in Seattle posted a picture on Facebook and tagged him with his west coast name."
"The east coast wife similarly posted a photograph of him, and the facial recognition assigned him a possible name: his west coast name. Eventually, the two wives got in touch. But wait, there's more! He had a THIRD wife and family in the Czech Republic and moved there to avoid family court — he's being pursued for extradition."
Note: Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger as a result of domestic violence, call 911. For anonymous, confidential help, you can call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or chat with an advocate via the website.