Marriages can be incredibly stressful and challenging, but when they end… that can take tension to brand new levels. People can often get emotional, irrational, and petty in a breakup. And once you mix in joint bank accounts, shared assets, and children, all that pettiness tend to get dialed up to eleven.
Just take it from these divorce lawyers, who recently shared the pettiest thing they have ever witnessed spouses do to one another during a breakup.
45. To The Grave
A woman in my town is a principal at a local elementary school. She is in her mid-70s (at least). I asked someone why she doesn’t retire and they explained that she and her spouse went through a very contentious divorce about 15 years ago and she would be obligated to give him a portion of her retirement. Therefore, she decided NEVER to retire so he gets nothing ever!
44. Laid-Back Approach
My sister’s ex-husband actually totally screwed her over by mostly just doing nothing (when it came to the legal divorce).
He did the usual stuff like change the locks to lock her out of the house, drain the lines of credit, claim he had gifted the Dodge Viper to his parents 6 months before they separated, and get his parents to sign a spreadsheet swearing it’s true and showing the dates on which he borrowed the $60K from them. But when it came down to actually legally drafting up the separation in court, he was all like “sure, sure no problem” and then just actually did nothing.
One frustrating part was him agreeing to hand over the business to her, then nothing for 3 months. Then, finally, “Here you go, one vending machine business, as promised. Please come get it out of the storage locker though; gonna start charging you storage fees soon.”
43. Electric Revenge
My mom was a real piece of work in this department. My mother is mentally unstable and was very abusive to me as a child. When my father finally moved out and asked for a divorce, I was luckily old enough (13) to legally decide who I wanted to live with.
I, of course, chose my dad ,and that enraged my mother. By court order, she was allowed to live in our four-bedroom house while my dad and I had to move with my aunt into a two-bedroom house. We lived there for 4 years while my mom did everything she could to slow down the divorce proceedings.
During this period, my father was court-ordered to pay the mortgage and utilities on the house my mother was living in. She would leave all the lights on and crank the heat with the windows open just to drive the utility bills up. She once left the garden hose on for a week just to make the water bill outrageous.
When it was finally all over . and she had taken my dad for as much as she could, she decided to sue him for my college fund. I called her and told her if she went through with it I would never speak to her again. She told me if I wanted it I needed to move in with her before I turned 18 so she could get child support from my dad. I refused, she won the case for the money, and my dad had to use most of what was left of the fund to pay for her lawyer fees.
42. Married To A Meat Head
I’m an accountant, not a divorce lawyer. But I 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, enough that it took months to find all of them.
41. No Happy Ending
My ex-wife gave me all my Blu-Rays back, which was nice. A year later I realized she had removed one disc from each of the Trilogy box sets.
40. That’s Actually Sick
My ex and I separated before the divorce. She agreed to watch the dog while I found a new place.
She had the dog put down instead.
39. Petty Over Pots And Pans
My father went through the divorce process recently. The amounts of money aren’t the real concern; the assets must be split as close to 50/50 as possible. So the screwing over generally comes in the form of inequitable distribution of one-of-a-kind things.
My father had a precious set of old, inexpensive kitchenware that his late mother gave him before he even married my mother. When the divorce went to mediation and she told the mediator that she wanted those pots and pans, she got them. She got them because she was willing to give up something else of equal monetary value (so, something worth less than $10), and was willing to sit in mediation for hours, racking up thousands in lawyer fees for both sides, until my father consented.
Again, an even financial trade, but a sentimental trade of overwhelming disparity.
38. Lost Chemistry
A friend of mine in high school worked at a pizza place. One of the delivery drivers was just ridiculously smart when I talked to him. Later I found out that he used to be a nuclear physicist. His wife was also a nuclear physicist but left him for her lawyer.
He got screwed out of his kids, most of the assets, and had to pay a lot towards alimony/child support. He did the math and figured out the tips he didn’t get taxed on plus his minimum wage delivering pizza was worth more than keeping his job as a nuclear physicist. Plus he got a little satisfaction not having to pay her as much. The guy was really nice. and I always felt bad for him.
37. A Draining Divorce
Banker here. I’ve had heaps of situations where a joint overdraft/credit card came up just before a divorce to the absolute surprise of one of the parties. It was always drained down to zero, of course. It’s especially sad when it’s students/young kids who find themselves heartbroken after the break-up AND with a debt they can’t afford.
36. Beaten In A Bar
My uncle owns a bar. When he divorced, his ex came in and started beating herself. Then she called the police. He spent time in jail until the police looked at the security footage. Somehow she still has joint custody of my cousin.
35. Going The Distance
This is a 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 every day 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 act was amazing.
34. Leaving Home
My father built the house I grew up in with minimal help. He spent two years working on it; the hardwood floors, the staircase, the bathrooms, he hung every cabinet by himself. Every piece of trim in the house was run through a lathe with his own two hands. He even did the spackling for all the ceilings and all of the paint work.
Then my mom cheated on him for a year and bought him out of the house. Now my mom and step-dad have a pretty sweet place to live, and I can tell it hurts my dad whenever he has to go by to pick up my sister. He has to stand in the entryway of the house that he built and watch their fat dog scratch up the hardwood that he was so proud of.
33. Heating Up
The 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 angry, but has no recourse. Then he has an epiphany: “I wonder if she changed the password to the Nest thermostat?” She had 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.
32. Ruthless Restraining Order
It was a bad separation. The wife filed a restraining order on the husband (very common — he wasn’t a terrible guy but not great one either).
A year into the divorce, his mother was dying. He asked his sister to speak with his ex-wife get her to bring the kids to see their grandma in the hospital before she died. The wife never did. Instead, she went to 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.
31. Happy Anniversary
A very close friend of mine watched his parents divorce. His dad had been cheating on his mom and decided to leave her papers regarding the impending divorce on the kitchen table the day of their 20th wedding anniversary.
30. Tires, Trucks, And Boats
A guy I knew said he did this:
He caught his wife cheating. He slashed her tires that night out of anger.
During the time before he filed for divorce, he bought a truck and a boat with all their savings knowing she’d have to pick one when they split assets.
That’s how he got the boat he always wanted.
29. Prized Possession
My brother-in-law just bought a 2015 Mercedes SL63 AMG. It was listed for approximately 40% of the cost of other comparable cars. He goes to check it out, expecting it to be trashed, but it was in mint condition. The seller was a newly divorced woman; the car had been her husband’s prized possession so she wanted to dump it quick to spite him!
28. Lights Out
I had a friend whose mother and dad divorced. The mom and kids had been living in the house with the dad living at a nearby trailer park. Being the only breadwinner, the dad bought her out and got the house in the divorce.
She had my buddy and his sister remove every single light bulb from every single fixture on the property and throw them away.
27. Divorcing After Death
I knew this dude who initiated a divorce from his wife (who was crazy). The problem was that she came from a very wealthy family. They basically kept dragging him into court for all sorts of nonsense until they bankrupted him. He eventually had to leave the country (he was a foreign national) to escape the situation.
I should note that his ex-wife died during all of this and her parents continued taking him to court.
26. Hiding Half The House
Someone who used to drink in a local pub was getting divorced whilst he was building a new house. They had to get the place valued and then determine how much they would each get from the sale of it. Before the surveyor came round, he plastered up the ceiling where the stairs were and said it was only a single story house with a big loft.
25. Discovered On Default
A friend’s soon to be ex took out a loan of $30K in her name. She had the money sent to their joint account and emptied it. He didn’t make the service address her address so the loan went into default. Only when the collection company called did she find out.
24. Quick Purchases
My parents’ divorce was messy
My dad always did a thing where he would make major purchases for the family and tell us afterward. For example, my mom took a car for a test drive and came back to find out he’d already bought and signed for it. He did the same thing with the family home when we all went to see it for the first time.
We all thought this was just his way of being funny, but it turned out he did this ahead of time in case there was a divorce. So when it finally happened, he took the house and all three cars and sold two. He tried to use the fact that my mom had no home or cars in the custody trial. But luckily the judge saw through him. It had to go all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court though!
23. Dressing Down
I overheard a conversation with a divorce lawyer. While I was waiting in the lobby for my child support case to be called (ex wasn’t paying), a woman walked in and sat down. Five minutes later, her lawyer came in and asked why she wasn’t dressed better. She was wearing what looked like a nightgown and bright white flip flops.
This woman explained to the lawyer that her husband took everything except that outfit and all of her left shoes. Since, she didn’t have money to buy anything else, the neighbor loaned her flip flops because they were the only thing that fit. At first, I felt bad for her but then she was whining that she wanted more alimony because the money he was paying weekly barely covered her car payment for her brand new Mercedes.
22. Riding It Out
A woman my wife worked with got divorced and was getting a nice monthly spousal income. She worked it out with her boss that she would never get a raise. Instead, she got more vacation time off each year so it wouldn’t affect her income. She never married her new long-term boyfriend who makes a lot of money just so she would continue getting money from her ex. The kicker? She’s the one that cheated on her ex-husband with said boyfriend.
21. Leaving With Lottery Winnings
Guy wins the lottery big time. Millions of dollars.
Never tells his wife, even though technically half of it belongs to her.
Taxes are already taken off the top, so he just needs to note it in tax forms, which his wife always signs without looking.
They get divorced.
The husband offers a no-hassle, generous divorce settlement, which her lawyer advises her to take.
He moves to nearby town and lives normally, gradually losing touch with everyone who knows him.
Then he moves again, losing touch with everyone.
That’s when he starts spending the dough.
20. Dust Snacks
My wife is a divorce attorney.
This couple was living together through the divorce process, but sleeping in separate bedrooms and all that. Anytime the husband would buy a snack like chips or crackers, his soon-to-be ex-wife would smash the bag until the snack was dust. But she would never open it.
So anytime he would go to eat a snack, he would be disappointed. He was not awarded a restraining order or anything for this either. He was super mad about the dust snacks, however.
19. To Grandma’s House, We Go
This happened to my grandparents back in the day. Both were extremely poor and worked many odd jobs to earn money. One day, my grandparents decided they would buy a house together. My grandmother gave all of her money to buy the house, and when everything was done, my grandfather ended up not putting her name on the lease. Then he and his girlfriend (he was cheating on her the entire time) lived in the house that my grandmother gave her savings to pay for.
18. Under Construction
I’m a real estate agent. My broker has been in the business for 40 years. She told me a story about one of her friends losing his house to the ex-wife but keeping the 40 acres around it.
The first thing he did was sell off the lumber on the surrounding acreage to a timber cruiser, then he sold the topsoil off. After all the topsoil was gone, he started brokering the rock/fill dirt. She had to wake up every day looking at a massive barren landscape covered in dump trucks all around her 1-acre plot until she finally gave up and sold out.
17. Small Bill Transaction
I worked in a bank for a time. We had a very wealthy customer who wanted to know how much space his divorce settlement would take up in ones and fives. It was several million dollars.
Luckily we were able to talk him out of it, but he really wanted to pay her in small bills, “like she was a stripper.”
16. Sharpest Tool In The Shed
One day I was out riding on my motorcycle and saw a big crowd in front of a house. So I stopped to investigate. A woman was having a BIG garage sale with lots of very high-quality tools at VERY cheap prices. I chatted with her and she said she was divorcing her husband. While he was away for the weekend with his new girlfriend, she was liquidating his extensive tool collection. Alas, I couldn’t carry anything on my bike.
15. Sneak Attack
When my ex-wife left me and moved to California, she stole my copy of Goldeneye 64.
14. The Gun Show
Fun fact: If you take a gun into a police department and say you want it destroyed, they will take it, no questions asked. My friend’s ex-wife did this with about $50,000 worth of guns — his entire collection.
13. Arrested Development
She got a 2-mile restraining order put on him when she knew he lived one mile away, then called the police at 2 AM and had him arrested on his own front porch. He had no idea why the police were there.
12. Pump The Brakes
My buddy used to manage a sizeable bike shop in Austin, TX. A guy dropped off his very nice road bike for a simple service. Easily $5-7k bike, great condition, etc. They finish the bike and call him up with the number that was attached to his profile in their computer and leave a message.
A lady comes in the next day and says she’s picking up the bike for her husband because he couldn’t make it. No problem, happens frequently. She pays and they give the bike to her.
The next day the guy calls to check on the bike because he hadn’t gotten a call back. My buddy is on the phone with him and says, “Oh, yeah, your wife grabbed it yesterday. Maybe she forgot to tell you.” He goes, “You mean my ex-wife?”
You can probably figure out the rest of the story. Hint: Lots of profanity, new policies, one guy got fired.
11. Losing (Remote) Control
My wife is a lawyer. The pettiest story I heard was a rich couple who fought over everything. First off, she works corporate law so her firm bills a lot of hours and doesn’t even do divorces. However, this guy’s important or whatever, so the firm represents him at the same rate they charge for corporate law stuff. Think a thousand dollars per hour.
Anyway, after the usual fight over all the homes, cars, boats, things got real petty.
First, they fought over all the large contents of the home like appliances and electronics, etc. Then, once that settled, they fought over ancillary things. For example, the wife won the TV, so the husband fought over the remote. Like what are you going to do with the remote after you’ve lost the TV?!
Surprise, surprise, he lost and wasted both his and his wife’s money as lawyers got to bill a fight over a remote. Then he decides to fight over the batteries in the remote! How petty do you have to be to pay $1,000 an hour to get some used batteries?
10. Two Dollar Vehicle
I know one guy who had a brand new $24,000 car and was ordered to sell it and give half of the money he made to his ex. He told me that he found a guy online somewhere who wanted to buy it and made a deal that he would sell him the car for $12,000 if the buyer would swear to the court that he bought it for $2.
Last I heard it worked and the ex was not happy.
9. Bait And Switch
During my grandparent’s second divorce from each other, my mangy transient grandpa decided to drunkenly drive his car through my grandmother’s bait and tackle shop/restaurant. Then he opened the cash register and took precisely half of the money. His reasoning was that since he was getting 50% of everything he would just destroy his half.
Thankfully, that second divorce between them stuck.
8. Battle Of Bikes
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 books and worked a couple days a week. Unfortunately, he had no credit and she did, so when they opened up everything was in her name.
All he wanted in the divorce was the bike shop, and he 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 and they only wanted him to work on their bikes (so I don’t know why she would have thought she could keep the shot).
So he opened up his own bike shop and all of the “regulars” have become regulars at the new bike shop.
7. Stealing Skillets
I have a client who collects cast-iron skillets of various sizes, shapes, designs, etc. Overall, he has a rather large collection that he is very proud of. We are currently in litigation because his wife wants half of the collection. He offered her cash for half of the value of the collection, but she doesn’t want the money, she just wants to tear him up a little.
6. Putting The “Pet” In Petty
My uncle represented this guy who was getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years. It was a super toxic breakup and they split everything 50/50, even the land that their house was built on.
Well, she decided to build a house right behind the other house — mind you, there would only be about 200 yards separating both houses, so that they would face each other. The house gets built and my uncle gets a call from his client asking about the legality of the situation he had gotten himself into.
Apparently, his ex-wife would spend a lot of time in her backyard, so he saw her all the time. What he did was buy a female dog and give it the same name as his ex-wife. Anytime he would let his dog back in from letting her out he would yell “Susan you [bleep]! Get in here!” He would also yell, “Susan you [bleep]! Quit peeing on the flowers!” or “Susan you [bleep]! Quit digging in the dirt!”
The ex-wife called the cops on him a couple of times, but there was nothing they could do because the dog was registered under the name of Susan, and it was, in fact, a [bleep]. So there you go.
5. Long-Term Parking
There was one case I studied in law school where, out of spite during a divorce, a guy bought a junk car, registered it to his wife and parked it at long-term airport parking.
Sometime after the divorce was settled, the wife suddenly gets stuck with a bill for thousands and thousands of dollars from the airport for parking there for 6 months.
He wound up paying it after she took him to court for it. I wish I could remember more details.
4. A Winey Wife
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 furious 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).
3. Family Photos
I was a clerk of the court and we handled a lot of divorce files. You wouldn’t believe how many people submit nude pictures of their soon-to-be exes into the court record as evidence, not because the pics are relevant in any way to the divorce proceedings, but simply to humiliate them. Court files, unless sealed by the judge, are public record. So anyone who cares to look can access the court file and all the exhibits. Family court is the most depressing division. Don’t send nudes to people… Except for me, I’m totally trustworthy.
2. Queen Bee
My dad did some pretty mean things after my parents divorced.
The one thing that stands above and beyond the others is how he would address the alimony and child support checks. On the “for” line, he would write it out to Q.W.M.O.T.U. So, whenever my mother went to deposit the checks, she had to explain to the teller what that stood for.
Queen witch mother of the universe.
1. Data Plan Doozy
When my ex and I split a few years ago, she was still on my phone plan. The contract was coming to an end and we were acting somewhat civil, so we agreed that we’d let the contract end and then she’d get her own plan. Well, she spent the next two months using her phone as a WiFi hotspot.
I did not have unlimited data. I should have been more on top of it, but by the time I realized I already owed Verizon hundreds of dollars.
She also used iCloud to get my contacts and told everyone I knew and worked with that I was a pill addict. She also ordered like 200 movies on demand on my Comcast account. Oh, and she actually donated all of my books and movies. None of them really cost me too much but the guerrilla warfare she used against me caused so many little annoying issues.
There were a lot more but I don’t have time to list them.