Divorce is rarely pretty. While there are the few exceptions, for the most part, the process is terrible for everyone involved. Just imagine a scenario where two people who (assumingly) loved one another at one point become bitter enemies. It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that equation.
Although we're short on mathematicians, we have plenty of people who shared their stories on a Reddit thread asking for the worst divorce stories. Each of the comments below has been edited for clarity to provide a better reading experience.
When Divorce Isn’t Bad Enough
“I was a lawyer during a bad divorce. The wife filed a restraining order on the husband (very common, wasn’t a terrible guy but not great either). A year into the proceedings, his mother was dying and 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.”
Realizing How Their Dad Wasted Everyone’s Time
“My dad tried to ruin my mom over on multiple levels, and he didn’t care if it hurt us. He drained their savings account and tried switching over ownership of the house. It was my grandma’s house and that would only work if she died. She is still alive to this day, 11 years later. Also, my mom had got a new job and wouldn’t get a paycheck until two weeks later, and my dad left her $11 to take care of us. After this, he told my mom he wanted to make this as friendly as possible, and that they should both hire a shared lawyer who would help make decisions for custody and how to split belongings.
My mom is always early, and she arrived early and paid the lawyer her half. As they’re sitting there waiting for my dad, the lawyer gets a call and finds out my dad lied and is taking my mom to court. Not only that, but he has hired the best divorce lawyer in town. My mom’s lawyer wouldn’t give her her money back, and she had to pay the other half that my dad was going to pay for him to represent her.
My dad fought tooth and nail for 50-percent custody. He had the best lawyer in town. My mom’s lawyer that my dad suggested didn’t show up to court because he was in jail, so my mom was representing herself. I never saw the inside of the courtroom. I wasn’t allowed to beg the judge not to give my dad custody. He is an addict and irresponsible.
My dad won custody. My mom defeated, asked my dad how they wanted to split the week, and my dad gave her a confused look. He then told her he didn’t want us all week, she could keep us most of the time. He just wanted to make sure he wouldn’t pay child support. My mom had agreed to sign off child support at the beginning, she didn’t want his money. My dad didn’t believe her, so he made our lives complete torture.
My mom tried making my sister and me visit our dad, more for our sake than his. She wanted to make sure we had a relationship with him, but also to make sure we were safe. My dad eventually lost his share of the custody because one of the stipulations was he couldn’t drink during his time with us. He didn’t make it half a week before getting wasted. That resulted in us getting taken away from him. All of that for nothing.”
She Did What To The Dogs?
“My dad’s co-worker was going through a divorce. He was a cop, so he made decent money. Before they got married, his wife was a regional manager for a large chain and made substantially more.
When they got married, she got knocked up and quit her job. She was already crazy, but the baby made her worse. She filed for divorce. He had no idea until they served the divorce papers at work along with a restraining order. Well, because of this restraining order, they took his weapon. ‘Pending investigation,’ he MAY get it back.
They go through this terrible divorce. She ends up going back to work and has the money to bleed him dry. She took the offspring, the house, and tried to take his dogs. He fought but she wouldn’t give up. Finally, she was granted custody (ownership?) of the dogs.
AND. PUTS. THE. DOGS. DOWN!!!!!!
I was honestly afraid for his (and her) safety for a while.”
Cheating Wife Caused Him To Lose Everything
“A now ‘ex-friend’ of mine, cheated on her husband while he was away at school (military). She decided to tell me about it. Two days later, I got this frantic phone call at 5:30 a.m., saying that she and her kid needed a place to stay the night because her husband had caught her having an early morning phone conversation with the friend with benefits. Within 12 hours, she had a court-issued restraining order, claiming that he had beaten on her a few times. Except that I was friends with her husband as well. He’s the most peaceful, non-violent person I’ve ever met, and is quite a pushover.
This guy was being ushered from his house by police. He also wasn’t allowed within 50 feet of the house or her or his own kid. Cops gave him 10 minutes to pack a bag and get out. For the next three months, he was living out of this bag, moving from house to house, crashing with friends. Meanwhile, his house that he was not allowed anywhere near, wasn’t even occupied because his wife and kid were living with her friend with benefits.
Eventually, he got himself together and started taking her to court for custody and divorce. Everything slowly started to come to light. When things started going south for her, she claimed he violated her. The judge called out her nonsense, but the military didn’t, and they opened up a full-blown investigation. The guy was a CID (Criminal Investigation Command) agent. He investigated those types of cases for a living. But with her accusation, he lost his badge and his weapon and got pulled from every case he was on. He became a glorified door greeter. The investigation took so long that his reenlistment window closed and he was forced to get out after 10 years of service.
He actually managed to get full custody of his kid and the charges were eventually dropped. But all he’s ever wanted to be is a cop and now as a civilian, he’s having a difficult time getting a job because all they see is that he was charged at one point in time. He’s had to sell his motorcycle and refinance his truck just to make ends meet.”
It Was All Going According To Her Plan
“It was painful growing up and watching my mother orchestrate the destruction of my dad. My mom was abusive toward him — punching him in the groin while making him say he deserved it, locking him out of the house bare, pouring hot liquids on him, spitting on him, screaming at him for hours upon hours nonstop. Toward the end of their marriage, she also fell in love with some guy and would go on and on about this guy to my dad, and how much she was in love with him and would expect my dad to sit there and support her. Under the threat of violence, he wrote things like she was allowed to see other people but he wasn’t, that all the money and goods from their relationship belonged to her and that he was a bad man who abused her.
Over the years, my mom slowly changed the names on the houses and bank accounts to hers alone. The only bank account that retained my dad’s name was the one his salary went to. He is a low-key, kind person, and my mom took full advantage of that. When I would beg him to document the abuse, he would refuse, saying that my mom was a good person and that he wasn’t going to keep records.
Eventually, my mom asked for a separation and kicked him out of the house. She restricted access to his bank account, moving all of the savings out. She let him take his desk, books, car and some of his clothes but nothing else, not even his passport. He moved into a little apartment and was under instructions from her that he had to ask her before purchasing anything, even something as small as a pen. He mostly listened to this but guiltily bought two placemats and a printer and hid these under a pile of clothes in his closet, because my mom had the key to his apartment and would go in and snoop around while he was at work.
In the meantime, my mom was constructing the narrative that my dad was an abusive husband. She told all their friends, their families, and some of her colleagues that my dad used to beat her up all the time. It was all a lie. It was sick to see my mom getting support from actual battered women, who confessed their stories to my mom, not realizing that she was the monster in the relationship. At the same time, she was ramping up the psychological warfare on my dad, calling him all night, following him and telling him she was going to get a weapon and blow his head off. My dad also didn’t take any steps to protect himself; he thought that protecting himself was betraying her. He would still go over to her house multiple times a week at her request to do her laundry, dishes, clean the pool, change the air filters, fix random things, do her work. It was messed up.
After two years of this, my mom concocted her terms and went to a paralegal where she filed for divorce. She invited my dad to the lawyer’s office on her birthday and asked him to sign the document that he’d never seen before under what they call an amicable divorce — the spouses decide what to do without interference from the court. My dad signed it. In the intervening months where he could have contested it, he was too scared to make my mom mad, thinking she might actually kill him or not let him leave until he gave in.
The divorce decree said this, among other things: my dad owed her $3 million, $100,000 for each year they had known year other for the ‘pain and suffering’ he had inflicted upon her. That he was abusive. That everything in the house belonged to her, including gifts from their daughter. That both houses belonged to her. That all savings, stocks, money belonged to her. That she was allowed to publish anything and say anything about him and that he was not allowed to sue her for libel. And the worst part — that my dad would need to pay her 50 percent of his salary for the rest of his life, including 50 percent of his pension and retirement.
To be clear, my mom didn’t need the money. She made over $200,000 per year and kept all savings. She had two houses paid off and millions in the bank that my dad made on the stock market. By comparison, my dad makes a little over $50,000 per year. After he signed the divorce papers, my mom drained the last bank account that they shared before rent was due, so my dad had no money. He continued paying her half of his salary for several months until he moved, and I told him not to let her know his new address. She then sent a lawyer after him to garnish his wages for not paying. My dad lawyered up but refused to renegotiate the terms of the decree by asking for half of their shared assets from the marriage. This is generally what people would do; then the lawyers get a cut of the assets they win, and so then my dad wouldn’t have to pay anything up front. But my dad said all he wanted was to be released from paying my mom anything more, and that he didn’t want to threaten her by suing for anything else like property or assets.
In the end, they settled out of court with my dad giving her everything and two-thirds of his retirement; the upside was he wouldn’t have to pay her monthly. Despite working two jobs, he couldn’t afford the lawyer fees anymore while my mom was well-equipped for a long court battle. My mom added the stipulation to the decree that she could contact him whenever she wanted, but he was not allowed to communicate with her, even through a third party, even if their daughter’s life was in danger. To this day, my mom tries to get information about my dad through me, constantly looking for ways to get him. She has the audacity to complain that he canceled his life insurance and that she was counting on that. She threatens constantly to sue him in civil court, makes up wild stories that she feeds to his friends to steer them away from him, and is obsessed with ‘destroying’ him. And all the while, she turns an innocent face to the rest of the world, gaining pity and sympathy for the abuse she says happened to her, but which she actually inflicted on my dad.”
When They Go Low, You Go Lower
“My uncle represented this guy getting a divorce from his wife of 15 years.
It was an extremely toxic breakup, and they split everything 50/50, even the land that their house was sat upon. Well, she decided to build a house right behind the other house, mind you this was a lot of land probably 200 yards separating both home sites so that the back of the houses faced each other.
The house got built and my uncle received a call from his client asking about the legality of a 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 name 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 biotch! Get in here!’ He would also yell if she was peeing on the flowers, ‘Susan you biotch! Quit peeing on the flowers!’ or ‘Susan, 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 biotch, so there you go.”
Living Like A ‘Real Housewife’?
“I currently have a client who makes a sizeable annual salary, north of $200,000. His spouse has separated but will not leave the matrimonial home, despite her overtures that she wants to become independent.
She has actively depleted the joint bank account of hundreds of thousands of dollars, which she has siphoned into personal bank accounts which she uses to finance her lifestyle of expensive yoga classes, buying luxury purses and shoes, eating at fine dining establishments, and spending recklessly to deplete her net family property.
She was taking every penny that he deposited from his paycheck on the advice of her lawyer, which she then used to pay for her lawyer. He was financing opposing counsel. That has now stopped.
She will not allow him to see the kids when he comes home from work or even read them bedtime stories.
She refused to allow him to take his sons to see their grandfather in the hospital, who passed away shortly thereafter, and she continues to alienate the children from the paternal aunts and grandmother. She has no extended family that speaks to her.
Both she and her counsel are bloodthirsty.
Even though they signed a prenup, she wants to take half of the $2.5 million dollar home, wants full custody of the kids, and wants him to pay her $8,000 a month in spousal support.
She could work full time earning as much as $95,000 a year, but she’d rather live life like a real housewife of Toronto.
I just took this file on, but it has the makings of a nasty divorce already. I want nothing more than to take her and her counsel down hard. Files like this make my blood boil because sometimes other lawyers take aggressive positions to force the matter into litigation.”
Dumping Him After His Diagnosis?
“My father was a plastic surgeon. He actually worked his way up from a janitor at a hospital that didn’t graduate high school, to getting through med school when he was in his mid-30s. He then went on to marry my mom, in his 40s (she was 20 years younger). They always had a strained relationship. He was a workaholic and had a drinking issue. My mother, on the other hand, was controlling and manipulative. I could see both of their issues at a young age.
I always knew they needed to be separated but it didn’t happen until my early 20s, which couldn’t have been a worse time. My dad lost a considerable amount of money during the recession, came down two types of cancer (prostate and colon), almost died and stopped practicing medicine. My mother decided this was the perfect time to divorce him and, in the process, take everything she could from him including my younger siblings. He fell into a depression, and still to this day thinks he loves this woman while she continues to take advantage of him.
I managed to help him win back his house in court but he lost every bit of cash and property.
It was a nightmare. He’s still dealing with it three years later. And I know it’s my mother, and I shouldn’t take sides, but she did some horrible things to my family. It’s taken years to recover from, and while it wasn’t all her fault she was the primary catalyst in the situation and didn’t have to be spiteful and take everything from a man who gave her everything.”
He Never Helped Out!
“My mom and dad split when I was 10 years old, but they haven’t officially divorced.
I had brain cancer growing up, so times were tough. My dad is the most irresponsible person you’ll ever meet, especially with money. So he moves out and my mom becomes a single mother. She asks for help but he can never afford it, so after about five years of not paying much child support, my mom decides to go to court to get him to pay.
He was ordered to pay by a court order, and he still doesn’t, so they start garnishing his wages off his paychecks. He was working up north on oil rigs making $100,000 a year. And he still couldn’t come up with payments. So they suspend his license and at this point, he’s paying $900 a month in child support. So this goes on for a few years while my mom keeps paying off the house she owns so we don’t become homeless, and supporting me, sometimes working three jobs at a time.
After all the medical stuff is settled with me, my dad decides he shouldn’t have to pay child support anymore, even though at this point I’m attending college and he’s behind on child support payments from the years that he didn’t pay. But he gets a good lawyer. Real good. He hasn’t filed his taxes in six years at this point, but the waive, and somehow come up with a budget that says he needs $5,000 a month for clothes. The judge goes along with it and is like ok, you don’t have to pay anymore and we’ll drop the $15,000 you owe in back pay as well.
So my mom is sitting there crying. What is she going to do now without that extra money each month? She had me when she was 19 years old and never went to college, so she doesn’t make much money. She’s managed to pay off the house by herself. It’s been a few years now since that happened and I still live in her house. I rent it from her with my boyfriend and we’re talking about buying it, and my dad, who’s lived in a different province for five years now hears about it, and his girlfriend decides, ‘Hey, let’s get you officially divorced from your ex and then she legally has to pay you 50 percent of what the house is worth.’
So now, not only do I have to up and move from this house I live in, but my mom is getting fooled once again and has to sell this place to pay my dad 50 percent of a house that she paid for with her own hard earned cash.
This guy has never given me support; the times when he had to drive me to the children’s hospital for my brain scans, he couldn’t afford gas, so my mom had to pay everything. Never paid a dime for my college; I had to work my butt off to afford that. He’s a piece of trash; he’s now ruining my partner’s and my life too. I hope my mom is able to get a good lawyer because she has paperwork proving that my dad only contributed $2,500 to this house. He doesn’t deserve that.”
Why She Cut Off Contact With Her Mother
“My parents are currently going through a divorce. Luckily, kids are all in our late 20s or early 30s, so no custody battle, but basically, my mom is a nutter and is desperately trying to mess with my dad as much as humanly possible.
She told her lawyer that he has many hidden assets, when in fact he has none. She lied and told the mediator that he has a record collection worth hundreds of thousands, when in fact it’s probably worth like £8,000. She said his guitar collection was worth tens of thousands, whereas second-hand value, like maybe £2,000. She wanted all of his businesses assets. All of them. She wanted both houses. Her lawyer repeatedly reminded her that at most she’d get half of everything, but she didn’t listen. Then she demanded back all of our (the kids) Christmas and birthday presents, from our childhood, like the violin they bought me when I was 13 years old. It’s hers. Obviously. Her lawyer laughed at her and reminded her that’s not how divorce works.
They’re still in the early mediation process, so it’ll be interesting to see how things go, once they get started properly.
Interestingly, despite her hollering that it’s all my dad’s fault, she was the one that walked out, and subsequently shacked up with my dad’s brother, WHO’S WIFE HAD DIED THREE WEEKS EARLIER. Yeah, and that’s why I’m not in contact with my idiot of a ‘mother.'”
How The Lawyer Caused Unnecessary Fees
“My dad and my sister have never gotten along, and over the years it got more and more strained. They eventually got into a physical fight which led to a CPS report and him getting slapped with a child abuse charge (they labeled it as ‘confirmed but isolated’, so he’s not on the registry and you can only see it with certain background checks).
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 my dad along. The lawyer spent HOURS with my dad trying to convince him that he could get more money and custody from my mom.
They did a divorce mediation (so they wouldn’t have to go to court), and the lawyer dragged it out for four hours. The whole time he was getting my dad all riled 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 mediation, the lawyer told my dad he should take the deal that my mom and her lawyer had originally offered in the first place, and my dad signed it.
In the end, he paid about $12,000 in unnecessary legal fees.”
The House His Grandma Gave Him
“My dad’s grandma gave him a house when he turned 18 years old. Great. Well, my dad and mom met, had me, and got married two years later. House is now dad and mom’s, and mom promised she’d never do anything if they split.
Eight years into their relationship, she filed for divorce for divorce. My mom forced my dad to stay away, moved another man into the house, forced my dad to take out a loan and give her half in order to ‘buy’ the house back.
My dad was in financial ruin for years.”
The Child Support Payments Weren’t Enough For Her
“I try to stay as far away from family-law as possible. This story is from about 10 years ago when I was working for the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor is enabled by federal law to enforce child support orders.
One day, I got a call from an irate guy who said he received a letter from the IRS stating that we intercepted his tax return. It was common, so I told him I’d look into it. He went on about how he wasn’t a deadbeat dad and how he took care of his kids and all. I told him I’d look into it and took his information down.
About 20 minutes later, I got a call from the ex-wife saying he wasn’t a deadbeat. I asked if he called her and she said he did. I pulled his file and it said he was over $20,000 in arrears for child support and she said she took care of his kids. I told her his tax return got intercepted and that was the first she heard of that. She asked what was going to happen to it, and I said it would be transferred to her. But, she could just come in and fill out an affidavit and we could waive his arrears. She said she’d call me back. When she did, she asked how much the return was, and I told her I didn’t know. She said she’d call back again.
I talked to the guy about a week later, and he faxed me copies of canceled checks that he provided to the ex-wife on a weekly basis for slightly above the child support order amount. That was his problem. For child support, you submit the payments to the clerk of the court, not to the other spouse directly (it prevents this issue). He requested a hearing and got one granted.
I wanted to help this guy, but I couldn’t. I kept advising that he get a lawyer, but he didn’t listen. He showed up at the hearing with check duplicates and the wife said she got those checks from him for another child and that’s why she paid him directly. The judge ruled against him.
His tax return was around $6,200.”