Divorce lawyers have truly seen it all. These are some of the most appalling instances of a husband trying to sabotage his wife, and in the process, revealing his startlingly true colors. It was enough to make some of these lawyers quit their practice altogether. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I was contacted by a woman after her judgment was final. She and her ex had a pretty short marriage of maybe 7-8 years. In the divorce, she was awarded 4 years of spousal support (alimony) at a modest $400/month or something like that. They also had a dog. Their divorce said that 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 gets into his feelings and tells the wife that he's not going to pay the final few months of spousal support. His basis is that the wife is currently dating, and because she has a boyfriend, he shouldn't have to pay his court-ordered spousal support. She tells him no, that's not how any of this works, and she tells him to pay up. She later tells me that she really care about a couple months of support and she was going to drop it.
A few weeks later, the husband requests visitation with the dog, for the first time in years. The wife is surprised but hey, that's his right. So they make plans to meet at an airport where he can pick up the dog and take her home for a few weeks. The husband is an airport employee, more on that later. The day after the exchange, the husband (in his magnificent wisdom) texts my client and says that if she does not repay her the ~20k in spousal support he's paid over the last several years, she will never see the dog again. She flips out, tells him she needs the dog back at the end of his 3 weeks, and if he doesn't she will go to the court. He appears to back off, and they make plans for him to return the dog.
The day before the scheduled exchange, the husband tells the wife that he can't make the exchange, as he's in Mexico. The wife asks him when she can expect the dog back. No response. The day after the original exchange date, the husband texts the wife and says he's back home in the states. And the dog is gone. It ran away from him in Mexico and was lost. He apparently hung around for a few hours looking and then caught his plane home. This is when she brings 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 decide 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 9 yards. Now, any family law attorney who knows what they're doing will tell you contempt actions are basically just empty threats. Most family court judges aren't going to send people to jail over divorce. But my client insists that because she's convinced this MENSA candidate is just hiding the dog somewhere.
So I proceed with the contempt action. His lawyer treats the whole thing as a huge insult to everyone's intelligence. They show up to the arraignment literally having prepared nothing. Lawyer and him are just sitting there with smug grins on their face expecting the matter to be dismissed. Lo and behold, I actually know how to string a few sentences together and the judge asks for his plea. His lawyer again scoffs with the pure rudeness of the concept his client did anything wrong and we set a trial date.
During the prep phase, I subpoena what I can and try to nail down this guy's story. When combined with my client's background info, things pretty much looked like this:
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 gets convicted of contempt of court. He was sentenced to 5 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's amazing.
For my fellow lawyers, another fun trial tidbit: 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 that 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 wife never did get her poor dog back. The prevailing theory is 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.
So simple little me, I look at the timeline here. If he was going to be returning the dog to the wife the day after its lost, surely he would have had a plane ticket from Cancun to Atlanta for the next day right? But he called the wife from LA the day after the exchange to say the dog was gone? Well, show me the airline ticket change? Husband says no. Won't do it. Gotcha. You never intended to return the dog, did you? Case rested.
Clearly all of this sounds bananas. So when we call him on it, he states that's how it happened. While in Cancun, they called a repairman to fix the A/C and the repairman left the door open. Dog runs away. Poof. This apparently happened the day before the scheduled exchange. 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. For you readers at home, Cancun is roughly a 40-hour drive from Texas. My client pointed out that you need 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."
"How about a wholesome yet insane one? The husband and wife couldn't settle on an alimony amount. The mom and her lawyer came in with a number, and the dad countered with a number. They couldn't agree because the dad thought the mom should get twice the amount in alimony that she was asking for, and the mom didn't want the dad to give her that much money per month. It took months for the two of them to settle on a figure that appeased both of them. Even then the mom put aside an extra amount of money, in case the dad ever had a financial emergency, and the dad did the exact same. The funny thing was that they didn't know the other one was doing this.
Despite all of this, their divorce wasn't perfect. There were still some hurt feelings and resentment from all parties involved. However, both parents accepted their own responsibilities for falling apart. They still loved each other deeply, but they weren't IN love anymore. Apparently they had been childhood friends and started dating when they were in middle school. They separated in their fifties.
Why did they divorce in the first place, you may ask? The dad had a secret girlfriend for at least fifteen years, possibly even longer. The mom knew, but they agreed not to divorce until both of their kids had graduated from high school. The dad got remarried to the secret girlfriend, and the mom has also since remarried. All four of them get along swimmingly now, since the separation happened about ten years ago."
"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 ex-husband left the house. The ex-wife went to work the next morning as usual. When she returned home in the evening, she found the ex-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 he 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. 'Even my oven mitts were glued to the wall! He glued the stupid sheets together in the linen closet!'
I've seen people do and say really awful things to each other, but that was diabolical."
"She was going through divorce from her insane husband. He had been texting her pictures of the weapon he just purchased and was threatening her with it. The police were called. There was nothing they could do because it was 'only a picture'. He was staying with a secret girlfriend at this point. The ex-wife allowed him to go get his stuff from the house. She was scared to go back in the house alone. I went with her.
The first red flag was that he had changed the locks, so we waited for locksmith to open the house and change the locks again. Well, when the door opens, we noticed that all the furniture was gone. Next, we carefully went upstairs in search of her cats. The entire second floor was empty. No cats. No furniture. Even her clothes were gone. Come to find out he hired a moving company to pack and take everything, even the food in the fridge. We finally found the cats. He had taken them to another vet in town and put them up for boarding under his sister's name, thinking she would not be able to find them. He was finally forced to disclose what happened to her possessions. He had them taken to a storage unit far away from the home.
We were so worried walking up the stairs, frantically searching for her cats. I thought we would find them dead in the house to be honest. Once we saw everything was gone from the house in a matter of hours, we just didn't know what to expect! It took days to find them, but thankfully they were alive and well at that other vet, so she paid the bill and took them to her new home.
Yes, we were able to press charges and she got everything back. She and her kitties are happy and healthy. Yeah, it was horrible. They even denied the restraining order request, and we couldn't believe it. But it could have been so much worse. It was still a horrific few days until everything was figured out. It was heartbreaking wondering what happened to the cats during that time. Such a cruel thing to do."
"I was an assistant for a family law practice. So it was already a disaster of a divorce because the ex-husband was a monster. 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-husband bought a cat on his time with the kids, except he’s not allowed pets at his apartment. He sends the kids back to their mom’s house with the cat and all its stuff. Mom is upset because she didn’t want a cat at all, plus her boyfriend is crazy 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.
The ex-husband told the kids, 'If mommy loves you, she’ll let you keep the cat, since daddy is not allowed cats at his house.'
I never found out the status of the cat unfortunately, as I left to go back to school. I do remember the lawyer I worked for telling me that both sides had spent thousands of dollars each in lawyers’ fees, arguing back and forth about the cat, though."
"Way back when, I did an internship with a family law judge in law school, which involved me sitting in on a lot of stuff. One divorced couple came in because the ex-husband wanted to lower his spousal support payments due to his lowered income, great financial responsibilities, and the fact that his ex-wife was declining to seek paid employment, all of which sounds reasonable on the face. It turned out that 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 that 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 from high school. They 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 that he told his own kids to figure out paying for college themselves.
He claimed that 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 that when he married his new wife, he gained over fifteen new dependents, which was technically true, but those dependents 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."
"The dad was physically abusive to the mom and his children. He was serially unfaithful to the mom and had a nasty addiction habit. He left rehab so many times, I don't know why she stuck with him for so long. After he attempted to kill the mom, she finally filed for divorce. Because one of the kids wouldn't straighten out, he was sent to live with his dad for a year. The dad's philosophy was 'the beatings will continue until morale improves,' and he took that literally. He also remarried another addict right away. After a particularly violent evening, the kid decided he really needed to be back with his mom, which outraged the dad.
The next day, the dad skipped the court date because he couldn't take off work. He wanted to keep this kid in custody to make the mom miserable. This sort of thing happened two or three more times. Finally, this kid pulled a brilliant fast one on his dad. He told his dad that he wanted to stay with him, so they scheduled a court appointment immediately. The judge asked the kid which parent he wanted to live with, and he say his mom. The judged asked why, and this kid details all the abuse over the past year, including the intentional skipping of court dates. The judge glared at the dad and dismissed the kid from the courtroom. When the dad is finished, he grabs the kid by the arm and drags him to the car, saying that the judge called the kid a liar and ruled in favor of the dad. That was a complete lie and an excuse to kidnap the son.
Surprisingly enough, it wasn't ruled a kidnapping because the judge hadn't signed the ruling yet. He didn't go to jail. Apparently one night when the kid was packing his things, the dad realized what was happening and left work early to beat his son. The kid climbed out of his bedroom window onto the roof and threatened to jump off and run to the police station if the dad tried to stop him. Thankfully, the kid had called the police ahead of time, and the deputy arrived alongside his mom at that exact moment. Crisis averted. I assume the kids grew up and are in much, much better places now."
"After graduating from law school, I went to court one day and happened to watch a domestic violence and abuse criminal case trial. The plaintiff is a quiet young woman, perhaps in her mid thirties. The accused is absent, being represented by his lawyer, who immediately asks the court for an adjournment, saying that the accused is a medical doctor, performing surgery in a big town two and a half hours away, but he wants to have an opportunity to testify, albeit on another date. The lawyer hands the court an official document by a state hospital, confirming the operation by the doctor. It's already 10:00-11:00 a.m. I consider the adjournment a certainty. The three-judge court rejects the request. The presiding judge seems stricter than in previous cases. The court starts the trial in absentia.
The plaintiff testifies. She is the daughter of a university professor and she is herself very much educated (postgraduate). She talks in a soft, fragile voice, looking mostly down, or at the presiding judge. He beat her. He locked her in their apartment. He left her with not enough food and no money to buy food for her and their several months old baby. He had his parents, his brother, and his sister-in-law, who lived in the same family-owned apartment building, bring her food and check her out. He locked everybody else out of her life, one by one, including her friends and her parents. Obviously she was not allowed to work, she didn't even seem to have access to a bank account. She was ashamed and afraid for a very long time, increasingly reluctant or unable to call for help or inform her parents, although they suspected that something was very, very wrong. On a few occasions, she half-asked her husband's sister-in-law and his parents for help. They obviously told him, instead.
One day, a Friday afternoon, he comes home. She dares to ask for milk for the baby. He grabs her and throws her against the wall. He punches her repeatedly. She screams, the baby cries, the whole apartment building echoes the commotion, but no one wants or dares to help her. He is not completely wasted. He locks her inside and leaves.
Her father-in-law visits the house. All he has to say about the whole thing is, 'He's gone too far.'
He brings his wife, the mother of the accused, to check her daughter-in-law injuries hastily, before the man comes back. I can't remember who was the one to eventually get her to the hospital or how she managed to escape, take the baby and ride a bus fleeing to the safety of her family and her original home (I feel awful just knowing what this woman's experience of my country was).
The husband finds out and what does he do? He immediately goes to the police and files a complaint for parental child abduction. She is stopped at the border by the police, while holding their baby and a handful of belongings. It's New Year's Eve. It's freezing. It's snowing. She doesn't have milk or diapers for the baby. She doesn't have extra warm clothes for either of them. The border police are perplexed and sorry for her, so they bring them in their offices, put them by a stove, and bring diapers and food, while they inform the prosecutor. She is set free and (somehow)continues her travel.
I listen to all this and I'm thinking, 'This can't be true, it's all too textbook. The power-hungry violent husband, the totally unprovoked violence, the victim's alienation from their supporting environment, the shame, the secondary abuse by the attacker's friends and family. Did these traumatic events actually happen?' Then the judge reads the medical findings on the victim's injuries. Oh, it's real.
And then, miraculously, the doctor shows up. He obviously wasn't operating on anyone, he wasn't even that far away. And he looks like a cliché wife-beater! Something out of a violent mafia movie, nothing like a respectable medical doctor. He looks annoyed to have to be there, and his lawyer looks desperate. He denies everything. He is arrogant, over-confident, and bullish to the plaintiff's lawyer, even to the presiding judge (but she shuts him down every time). He is convicted, of course, and gets a jail sentence. I'm afraid I can't be sure about his medical practice being suspended, though. I hope she is safe and happy, far away from him and this kind of people."
"I was working on a pretty cut and dry divorce case. I was representing the husband, and I felt pretty bad for him. There wasn't any particularly awful history between the ex-husband and wife, but even standard cases can still get messy. Apparently, his wife was being seriously greedy and trying to take basically everything. This man was completely as his wit's end.
I was driving behind him on the way to court when he crashed his truck into an SUV. He was okay, but the SUV was totally flipped onto its side. He immediately got out to help the other driver out of their SUV. This was right in front of the courthouse as well, so there were already plenty of officers around to help out. That's when it hit me: this SUV looked remarkably like this man's wife's SUV. Before I could mention anything, I noticed that the cops frantically swarmed around this ex-husband and pin him to the ground.
While everyone watched and though this guy was 'helping' the woman, he was actually stabbing his ex-wife repeatedly. With a tool. Unfortunately, she didn't survive. That was absolutely the last divorce case I took on."
"I was a paralegal for divorce lawyer. This one is morbid. We represented a guy who believed vehemently that his wife was assaulting the children. The authorities were involved, Child Services was involved. It was never clear what the truth was or if anything at all was going on, 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. As we were leaving, he told me, 'Well, I guess the divorce is over now.'
And he laughed. This was the first time I had ever been speechless. There are no heroes here. The trauma this man put the children through is incredibly selfish, regardless of his intentions. There are so many other options that could have been explored. Many of which were being explored when this happened. He abruptly put an end to all of them, making the truth forever impossible to discern.
The children are in the custody of a family member. They are safe and well. Although they will no doubt need extensive therapy as they get older. This guy is in jail. I'm unsure of his final sentence. However, I doubt he will ever leave. Forensic interviews are super confidential. And this case didn't have the chance to go to a hearing. However, after multiple interviews with both children and the parents, neither the Police, Child Services, Guardian Ad Litem, or Child Advocate recommended that the mother lose custody or visitation, nor did they require it to be supervised. All of these matters were ongoing when the mother died.
Those children are messed up for life now. He chose revenge over his kids. This is not something to be applauded. No one won in this situation. The children are currently under the care and supervision of a family member and are doing fine though. Despite the obvious darkness all around this case, they are now in a stable environment."