When “til death do us part” becomes too tall of an order, there are (hopefully) good divorce lawyers to help sort things out. Reddit gathered legal experts from all over the world to dish on the weirdest (or downright most distressing) reasons their married clients called it quits. Unsanitary expulsions? Irreconcilable diets? Anything can be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Call the judge on these shocking stories of the wackiest motives behind divorce.
1. The Mother of All Break-Ups
I've had a lot of younger male potential clients come in for divorce consults with their mother. Then, during the consult, the mother does 98% of the talking, and it's clear who actually wants the divorce. (I'll usually escort Mom to wait in the lobby while I talk to the son directly, and most of the time he's just there to appease his mother).
On a related note, I once had just the mother call for a consult because she explicitly said that she wanted her son to get a divorce. I politely informed her that's not how divorces worked...
2. I Now Pronounce You Squatter and Wife
My aunt was dating this unemployed dude for a while. He was staying in her house rent-free. They got married and were getting ready to go on the honeymoon when the new husband tells her he’s not going because he has to take care of his plants at the house. Big fight. Aunt goes on the honeymoon with her sisters instead.
She comes home and tries to kick him out of her house; he refuses to leave. She tries to get the police involved. Dude is live streaming on Facebook how he is being trapped in his own home. Police tell my aunt there is basically nothing they can do. She can file for eviction after a divorce. Dude gets to live in her house with his precious plants for like three months until everything legally gets worked out.
3. The Claws Come Out
Paralegal here. A couple got divorced over a cat. Wife called cat Snowball because of white fur and only wanted the cat to eat wet food or chicken breast. Husband called cat Lily, again, because of white fur, and believed it should only eat dry food. These two argued for a year over custody of the cat but did not give a darn about their human kids aged six, four, and 15 months.
4. So Much for Being in It for the Long Haul
My 90-year-old client (the husband) and his son retained me to initiate divorce proceedings with his 88-year-old wife. They’d been married 60 years. The wife had recently taken to beating him with his own cane because their daughter poisoned her into thinking he was hiding money from them. The battle came down to husband and son versus wife and daughter.
At their first court appearance, my client showed up in an old 1950s-style pinstripe suit and fedora. He was a farmer his whole life, and this was clearly the only suit he owned. He was such a meek and lovely old gentleman. I had to pass my client onto a new lawyer midway through the proceedings because I accepted a job in a different country, but I understand the divorce was eventually granted.
5. Leave Him to Side Hose
My aunt had a case where the wife had glued all of the outdoor hoses together so he wouldn’t spend more time washing his vehicle anymore. When the glue didn’t work, she just cut them all up. When he bought new ones, she filed for divorce.
6. Loser By a Hair(s)
My dad was a divorce lawyer. He had a client who wanted to divorce her husband for two reasons: He did not have enough hair on his chest. He did not drive fast enough. Keep in mind this was in the 70s when chest hair was a bit more important.
7. Not the Brightest Match
I knew a guy from a high school job who divorced his wife of two months because she would sleep with a nightlight, but he could only sleep in total darkness. They apparently never lived together until after getting married. He hated her nightlight so much that he would often sleep on the couch instead, but sometimes he would claim the bed for himself and lock her out of the bedroom for the night.
This was an eccentric late 40s man working at Burger King who acted like all the other high school coworkers were his best chums, and often told us these weird stories. I'm glad I don't work with him anymore.
8. There’s An App for That
I was a legal assistant when this case came in, but this lady divorced her husband of two months because he got her an iPad case for her birthday instead of the expensive jewelry she wanted.
9. Married Life Is the Real Hell Inside
Failed exorcisms. The client had an inner ear condition that caused chronic vertigo, but symptoms could be treated with medication. The husband was an evangelical who was convinced his wife 1) had become possessed and that her vertigo and general crankiness at his methods were evidence of demonic possession, 2) the medications she was taking were enabling the devil to hide inside her, and 3) the only proper recourse was an exorcism.
He would hide her meds until she got dizzy and then try various methods of exorcism. This included: Sweating it out (put under blankets while incapacitated and locked in a room full of space heater). Freezing it out (pretty much the reverse with AC, fans, and bags of ice). Surprising it out (he would jump out and scare her like it was the hiccups, but instead of yelling ‘Boo!’ he would recite the Lord’s Prayer or Psalms).
The final straw was that he tried to "surprise it out of her" by pushing her down the stairs when they were heading out for dinner. This guy was some type of executive, and they still went out to dinner after the stairs incident. She asked for the divorce at an Applebee’s that night. I have often tried to picture that conversation, as she was adamant that he was a total sweetheart and never acted out of malice or anger.
10. Not What the Doctor Ordered
My client put his wife in an assisted living facility based on a misdiagnosis, the medication of which caused the wife to be unable to care for herself. While in the facility, my client—shocker—started dating another woman and methinks began using hard drugs. He used a loooot of money on both of these things. She eventually got off the medication and got better.
Suffice to say, she was not happy about what had transpired.
11. Sole Custody Is Not in Your Stars
Staff Attorney for a judge. Not a divorce but a custody modification hearing. Ex-wife wanted sole L&P custody of the kids because the ex-husband was spending all his money on a palm reader/psychic and refused to pay child support. On cross examination, ex-wife's attorney got him to admit that he was spending all his discretionary income on this psychic.
He said he had spent over $5,000 on "readings" and other services there. Judges frequently chime in with questions in domestic matters, so my judge asked why he was not paying support as his divorce decree required. His explanation was i) the psychic could "read" that his children were provided for without his money and ii) he would be able to repay the ex when he takes the children to Mexico permanently to "seek great riches" there.
Which my judge read as, "My psychic told me to kidnap my kids.”
12. A Dirty Separation
I’m an intern, but the judge I work for used to do divorce work. He has some crazy stories but this one is probably the most outrageous, though the divorce was pretty justified. Every morning, this couple would sit in the bathroom together while one of them had their morning dump. One would sit on the toilet and the other on the rim of the bathtub.
This particular morning, the wife was on the toilet and husband on the edge of the tub. They started to argue about their relationship, so the wife reaches down, pulls her tampon out and flings it at the husband. I’m told the tampon stuck for a brief second to his forehead before sliding off. He filed for divorce that same day or the next.
13. Memories Are Worth More Than Plastic
Wasn't the reason but did happen during the course of the divorce. Neither side would follow the court orders. When they had to go back to court, they were fighting over a pistol and the man's grandmother's bowls. I assumed for weeks that these bowls were some sort of heirloom or expensive china. When they finally brought the bowls in to swap, they were freaking Tupperware.
14. The Final “Gotcha!”
Paralegal here. There are so many crazy divorces and divorce will bring out the absolute worst in couples. When thinking of reasons why a divorce started, this one stands out to me the most: At my last firm, we did general law, which included probate. A couple did their will with our firm. We drafted everything; they were mid-70s to early 80s and married 40 years total. Divorced and remarried once.
Husband wanted us to put in his will that his kids get his entire estate but did not want us to tell his wife. He wanted to have us make a secret will and a fake will. The fake will would be signed with her present, and then he wanted us to shred it and he will come in later to sign the "real will." He copied his wife on the email that had all of this information disclosed in it. Two weeks later, he called us and said he wanted to file for divorce instead.
Bonus one: A previous client was PISSED his wife was cheating on him. She wanted a non-contested divorce and wanted to use my boss specifically because she knew he was a great lawyer. He pretended to go along with her terms and contacted us literally two days before his wife and retained us. He said he didn't care how much money the retainer was but wanted my boss so his wife couldn't have him as a lawyer.
He called and paid first, so he won that battle.
15. Two Strikes, I’m out
My jerk cousin told his wife she had three chances to give him a son. Daughter was born first. Strike one. Son was born second. Then they find out the boy can’t eat gluten. So, my cousin divorced her and has made zero effort to see his kids. He would also take off work, and instead of spending time with the babies or her, he'd tell her, "Just act like I’m at work and do all your normal stuff."
Then he'd watch TV all day. Jerk.
16. Two Is a Marriage, Mom Is a Crowd
Not me, but a friend my mum has divorced her husband because his mother still coddled him at age 40, with his consent. They lived with his mother (common in Asia). By coddle, I mean that she would walk straight into their room after his shower and powder his back for him. They couldn’t lock their bedroom door because his mother would come in as and when she wanted.
If they locked the door, she would knock repeatedly asking what they were doing. Lol, what would they be possibly doing??? Playing poker???
17. Not So Sinful as To Not Get One, I See
My client was the outrageous one, so my heart went out to his poor wife. He had OCD which manifested primarily financially, so he made their lives a penny-pinching hell. Examples: he was obsessed with avoiding unnecessary driving (wear and tear on the car, gas expenses), so he cut the whole family’s hair at home and never let them eat at a restaurant or go to the movies.
Weirdest of all: he kept one toilet paper roll on him at all times, and you had to get one square from him before you could go to the bathroom. He never gave more than one square. Wife finally got fed up and left him when 1) he gave her bangs during an in-home haircut and 2) their daughter was so traumatized by the toilet paper thing they couldn’t potty train her.
Also: he HATED paying his divorce lawyer bill. He was also an old-fashioned mega-Catholic who considered divorce a deadly sin. He viewed my whole job as an unnecessary (and sinful) expense.
18. One Thing He Couldn’t Handle By Himself
Worked in matrimonial law for a year and a half before I had to leave because it just overwhelmed me with how awful humanity is. I'll never forget filing papers that described her soon to be ex-husband’s behavior, including: "masturbates on the living room couch without closing the door and leaves sticky tissues everywhere" with further description of their three young children potentially walking in on him.
19. In a Divorce Court Far, Far Away
I had a client incur over 20 additional hours of very expensive billable hours just because he and his ex-wife were battling and went to trial over their Star Wars collection. This was the only issue at trial, they were able to work out custody, child support, and the house...but the Star Wars collection went to trial.
The Judge ended up splitting it in the worst way possible, basically giving each side half of what they wanted and then mixing and matching everything else and breaking up "collections." When speaking about it at a conference, the Judge admitted she did it because if they were going to act like children, she would treat them like children. The thing is, the value of this collection was over $100k, so hardly kids’ stuff.
Neither side had it in them to appeal.
20. She Won’t Drink to That
I do my student practice at my family's law firm. A young woman filed for a divorce because her husband drank ONE beer during weekdays after a day of work. The guy wasn't violent, doing drugs, or anything like that. He was just a normal, polite guy who liked to have a cold one after 10-hour shift. They are a very good couple and argue so rarely that this woman's friends told her to write down everything he did to upset her and re-read it every day, so she had reasons to stay angry.
My mom (lawyer) set the woman straight. She told her he was just doing what all guys do and to find herself new friends instead of ones ready to sabotage their marriage.
21. From the Petty to the Predatory
He didn’t help her put up a shower curtain. It may have been a straw that broke the camel’s back situation. Best reason I've ever heard, though: cops showed up to tell her that her husband is a violent child offender, and she’s now aiding and abetting because her house is next to a school. THAT one was a "yikes" situation.
22. You Can’t Wipe Away These Differences
My boss just got divorced. His wife was telling people one of her reasons was the amount of toilet paper he used. She was a super coupon clipper thrifty lady and would listen when he went to the bathroom to see if he was using “too much TP.”
23. The One Game They Won’t Play
Lawyer here. One of mine that sticks out is that the husband and wife both played some sort of on-line role-playing game, sort of like The Sims, I think, but a little more elaborate and adult (Second Life maybe?). I don't know anything about online games. The wife got heavily involved with the game, like 10 hours a day, and wouldn't reduce her time playing no matter what he said.
What tipped things over the edge, however, was that he set up a fake profile/avatar and went online to stalk her in the game and found her avatar sleeping with some random guy's avatar. Nothing ever happened in real life (neither of them were exactly oil paintings to look at), but that was enough for the guy to initiate a fairly acrimonious divorce.
24. A Million Reasons Why Not
Hopefully soon-to-be-former divorce attorney here. I’ve seen tons of crazy reasons for people to get divorced. Some of them stupid, some of them make perfect sense. I had one person get divorced because her husband wouldn't take her out to the movies anymore. I had one client who looked through her husband’s phone and found out he was hiring male escorts while he was on business trips.
One female client got a divorce because she hated sleeping with her husband. Her last relationship before she got married was pretty intense, and I guess her husband just didn't match up. I've had a few clients who were teachers get divorced because their spouses found out they were having indecent relationships with students. All of the teachers were female.
One divorce involved an elderly couple who had both recently been widowed. They had both been married to their individual spouses for over 40 years. They married each other out of loneliness. About two years into the marriage, they realized they made a huge mistake. They couldn’t stand each other. It was weird seeing eighty-year-olds complaining about the same thing you see kids arguing about.
25. It Takes Two to Tango: One to Gab and One to Cheat
My dad split from my mom because "she takes too long to tell a story." He was actually having affair #4795809374 and that came out shortly after. But this was one of the main reasons he gave when they did a counseling session together.
26. Til Debt Do Us Part
Divorce lawyer here. One client filed for divorce because he owed his bookie $70,000. He didn't want to leave his wife, but he figured he would get half the house in the divorce, which was worth $700,000 and pay his debts. He had already blown through their life savings gambling. He was the absolute worst guy you'll ever meet.
27. The Numbers Don’t Line up With Your Stars
She spent $42,000 on psychic hotlines. Notably, she then wouldn’t accept any of our offers, and I continuously asked her lawyer to provide a counteroffer...shouldn’t her psychic have told her how the case would turn out?!?
28. Stay for the Pay
The saddest divorce we were hired to do (but ended up not doing for reasons that'll become apparent), was a woman in her fifties whose husband had really just let himself go. He was over 400 pounds, just did his third triple bypass, refused to do ANYTHING different, just smoked and drank all day long while watching TV.
His doctors told him he was going to die in six months if he didn't change his behavior. He told them they were all morons and could go to heck. Meanwhile, his wife is this successful woman who makes over $10k a month on her HOBBY, while making six figures in her normal work. She lost all respect for him, all desire, and all love for him by watching his decline.
For the past few years, she could barely stand him. It also sounded like there was some verbal abuse going on where he constantly accused her of cheating and gaslighting her while cheating himself throughout their marriage (and spending all his money on substances). His accusations ramped up considerably once she lost about 200 lbs. the good old fashioned way.
We were working on her divorce, and one of her provisions was that he keeps her as the beneficiary on his life insurance (for obvious reasons). She assured us he would agree to everything she suggested in the paperwork if she talked him through it. One day, we get an email from her saying to halt the divorce.
Not because they were reconciling, but because he refused to keep her as the beneficiary on his life insurance if they divorced. So, she stopped the divorce. So that she could get the benefits when he inevitably dies in a few months. It was absolutely stone-cold, but honestly I couldn't say I would have done things any differently than her.
We've had one where the opposing party (husband) found out his old wife (late 70s) was terminally ill. He started using EVERY tactic in the book to delay the final hearing so that she would die before their divorce was finalized and he wouldn't have to lose anything. We just got another where the couple agreed to everything beforehand, signed documents, agreed to a dissolution and how to share custody.
Now, husband has a vengeance boner and wants to trash the dissolution, take everything from her, and taking away even their kid from her. Why? Because she told him "no" when he asked for their kid a full day and night ahead of schedule when she had already made plans with the child. People are totally ridiculous.
29. Spring Cleaning Comes for Everything
He was frustrated by her hoarding. She was frustrated by his utter uselessness. He filed for divorce, and she was my client. Her prized possession was a couple of rooms full of scrapbooking materials. His prized possession was a yard full of junky old cars that he never worked on. They had no children and no real assets.
They hated each other more than any two people I'd ever met, and the only terms they would agree to were these: he gets the scrapbooking stuff, and she gets the cars. My client also took the house, as he had no income and didn't want it anyway. It was the shortest divorce decree I ever drafted. I intentionally squeezed it onto one page, and the judge and I had a good laugh over it.
Once the decree was signed and filed, she hauled all the scrapbooking stuff to the yard, and he removed it to the dump. She then called a junk shop I referred her to and had all of his cars removed from the yard. These two also fought over a toilet brush, as he didn't want to have to buy one when he moved out. I politely instructed my client to "give him the darn toilet brush."
30. Love Is Not a Get Rich Quick
He got drunk at the wedding, she did not like it, and decided to divorce him right after the honeymoon (which she went on without him). Moreover, this was all an elaborate scheme of divorce-robbery, because the guy was loaded, and so was his entire family...but they were loaded because they were a family of EXCELLENT lawyers.
He was a third-generation lawyer, with all the smarts and experience of his predecessors combined. Let’s just say it did not go well for her.
31. Who Needs a Bear-Hug?
When I clerked for a judge, we had a weeklong divorce trial between a couple. The husband was a wildlife photographer, and the wife was a stay-at-home wife with no kids who...helped "remodel" the home. Anyway, the husband was mauled by a grizzly bear he was photographing, spent several months in the hospital and rehab, and was served papers shortly after getting out, now without an eye and with severe scarring on his face and side.
She wanted half of everything. The non-scarred half at least.
32. Rolling With Someone Else Now
Divorce lawyer in London. Had a client who indulged in some recreational substance use. His dealer lives in the same apartment building as him. Went down one day to pick up some stuff. When the drug dealer (female) came to the door, he could hear his wife in the background. Turns out that his wife also liked that life and was getting her fix in with the neighborhood dealer.
But it doesn't end there. Because they all get on so well, they start having parties and hanging out. Parties become orgies each week. The husband and wife put their kids to bed and head downstairs to the dealers flat for a feast of flesh. A couple of months go by, and the wife comes home and says she is leaving him to be in a full-time relationship with the dealer!
Dude is now stressed, but he can't score no more from his dealer who stole his missus!
33. Dine in, Dash out of Your Marriage
My father’s best friend divorced his wife over her cooking. Apparently, every day he would come home to amazing cooked meals. In reality, she couldn’t cook at all and was ordering food from different restaurants. She even went as far as dirtying pots and pans to make it look like she cooked all day. She got away with this for almost a year before he caught on.
This was back in the day before you could check your bank statements online, and since she did all the billing, he didn’t notice all the money she was spending on takeout.
34. Two Sides to Every Horror Story
I am a lawyer that handles quite a few divorces (among other things), and I've seen all sorts of reasons for marriages ending. The only thing that is consistently true (and relevant to this question) is that it is NEVER for just one reason, and it is NEVER one-sided. In fact, I've started telling potential clients in our initial interview that I am well aware that I am going to uncover some dirt on my client in the process—not to scare them, but to put their mind to ease that I've seen worse.
The fact that you haven't been 100% an angel up to this point doesn't scare me, and I'd rather find out about it from my client beforehand than later on from their spouse at the worst possible moment. All this is just to say that when you hear about people divorcing over one stupid argument or mistake, usually that's just the straw the broke the camel's back.
That said, some of the lighter straws I've seen include: A guy who is 100% convinced that his wife (our client) is actually a lesbian in love with his sister and just using him as a cover (but he also claims she is sleeping with me to pay for her legal fees, and with every male whose phone number is in her call history).
A woman who is divorcing my client because he was "too sad" after his father died last year (my client had to break down her door to get his father's ashes a few weeks after he left the house and she refused to let him back in or give them to him). A woman who claims my client was emotionally abusive towards her because he refused to yell at her, and sat in silence ignoring her when she screamed at him (he has this recorded, time-stamped for the dates and times she insists the incidents occurred, and she's listened to them and his complete silence as she goes on tirades and insists this proves her point that he was "emotionally distant and abusive").
35. Separation Anxiety
I used to work in a general practice firm, and the guy who worked across the hallway from me was a family law attorney. He was a good attorney, but every day I would hear him yelling on the phone at his clients. One day, I asked him why he did when it was obviously stressful in a non-legal work type of way. He pointed out that it's honestly pretty easy work. There's one chapter of statutes dedicated to it, and you need to know a little Civil Procedure and that's about it.
It's an amazing segment of business. Not only is not that difficult from an intellectual rigor perspective, but holy moly...those family law attorneys make serious bank for being willing to put up with the headaches. I would routinely hear him yelling at clients like, "Don't go over there. I'm INSTRUCTING you to not go there. If you go there, I will fire you as a client and when you go to jail, I won't take your call." (For the record: this was in a fairly affluent suburb).
Most of the disputes that would drive him into my office for a "break" would revolve around parents wanting to know their recourse for ex-hubby dropping the kids off four minutes later than agreed and how the client planned to get "even.” I also recall one time a client had gotten his cell phone number and called him on a Saturday evening with some "emergency" (spoiler: his ex had done something egregious like took the kids to the pool without his consent).
So, on Monday morning, the attorney sent the client an invoice for $500 for a Saturday phone call (which probably lasted like five minutes). He did it so the guy would call him and say "What's this?!" and then the attorney could explain to him that is what he charges for non-emergency weekend calls, this time he'd waive it but if he ever did it again he could be sure to get a bill that he'd end up paying.
36. You Can Put a Price on a Soulmate
She was kidnapped in Mexico, and he refused to pay the ransom. Eventually, her family managed to pay, and she was left on the side of the road. It is not outrageous as in petty, but outrageous as in how absurd that is. I don’t know how much they wanted as ransom, but it was substantial, as the conversation between her family and him was how he had it liquid, and they had to liquidate investments to get that amount.
This happened about seven years ago. He wasn’t with her on the trip. She was traveling with cousins and went downstairs alone to get ice cream and wait for them to get ready. I do not know all the details. She was extremely distraught talking about it and it was not necessary to pry. It was clearly traumatic, so even though I had a million more questions, I left it alone.
37. No Free Samples
My grandfather’s brother was a judge who presided over state issue marriages from time to time. One couple he married returned six months later to "Confirm" the wedding and end their trial marriage. At this point, he informed them that there was no such thing and that they had been married for six months. They subsequently broke up.
38. Just Throw out the Whole Man
My great-great-grandparents had an interesting case. He was abusive, like "pimp her out and then beat her for infidelity" levels of abuse. This was the 1910s, though, and in our state, you couldn't initiate a divorce for cruelty. In fact, the only possible grounds for divorce was infidelity. A few times, she tried just leaving him anyway.
Once he came home from work and she, plus all eight of their kids, were just gone. But he always found them, and since they were still married, he had every right to grab the kids and go back home with them. Finally, she moved out and went to live with another man. She flaunted the new guy around town until her no-good husband got embarrassed enough to sue her for divorce on the grounds of infidelity.
Although she couldn't read or write, she put her X on those papers the minute he served her. It was a major local scandal (very Catholic community, divorce was rare), but she got what she needed to be safe.
39. So Much for the Language of Love
Friend of mine divorced his then-wife because she would only speak French when her family would come over. She was Spanish, as was her family. To add, her family spoke English, French, and Spanish; he could only speak Spanish and English. She got bored of being married to him, her family basically talked smack about him while he was there, was only when he recorded a conversation while they were there and got it translated he found out what was going on.
40. Take a Rest From the Restroom
So, this girl I went to school with marries this rich guy from Ohio. She moves in with him, and they seem to get along well. Six months later, she files for divorce. Up to that point, all I’ve heard from her was how good it was going. Anyways, it turns out our buddy had a thing for going off on urine. He asked her to urinate on him in the tub.
At first, she agreed to it as she thought it was a onetime thing. But he kept asking for it more and more. She tried to decline it respectfully, but he wouldn’t get any of the hints. She finally used the tub being too small as a reason. Next day she comes home with two dozen construction guys and their heavy equipment tearing the bathroom walls.
A week or so later, they finish up the bathroom. She comes home to a sign left on the fridge with a note to drink up, she got some watering to do. I don't know what exactly she put down as the official reason in the paperwork but that was definitely her biggest reason to walk out of that relationship. Oh, I forgot to add, he also wanted to bring a horse to do the deed as well and at times, asked her to make animal sounds while she stood on top of him.
41. It’s That Time of the Month (for a Divorce)
Had a soldier stationed at Guantanamo Bay who met a local. Fell madly in love. They decided to get married so she could come with him back in the States once his tour was done. She was working on American dishes and was making spaghetti. He comes home from work one day, and she's making it. She puts the meat in, puts the canned sauce in, and then pulls an unlabeled bag out of the freezer and adds it to the sauce.
At this point in the session, she's hysterically crying with broken Spanglish. She's trying to explain she didn't know any better. Through the hysteria he informs me her mother and grandmother told her if she wanted to keep her man, she needed to put her menstrual blood in his food. It was so hard to keep my composure. I was trying to hard not to gag.
They both described they were madly in love, but he couldn't let it go. They ended up getting a divorce. Having done this for 14 years, I have found it 100% accurate that truth is stranger than fiction.