Imagine waking up one day and finding out that your husband of 20 years, the one with whom you raised a child and have been living the good life, might not really be your husband at all. That is what happened to Cristina Carta Villa, “wife” to Gabriel Villa, who found out that her husband divorced her in secret just months after their wedding, allegedly to protect his assets.
Why would a husband divorce his wife in secret?
Cristina, age 59, says that despite her age difference with Gabriel (age 90), it was love at first sight. They married and spent two decades enjoying life and splitting their time between Manhattan, France, and Massachusetts. They had a son, nursed him during his illness, and she says she was “a loving and caring wife and mother.”
Then one day, Cristina noticed that a tax bill for their Manhattan apartment that arrived in the mail had only Gabriel’s name on it, not hers. Upon investigation, she learned that without her knowledge or consent, Gabriel had divorced her in the Dominican Republic just four months after their wedding.
He used the divorce papers to try to have Cristina’s name removed from the deed to the apartment, which Cristina believes Gabriel wants to sell to his adult daughter. (The going price for an apartment like theirs is around $1.4 million.)
Cristina says the divorce is a fraud, and she is suing Gabriel to nullify the divorce and stop him from selling the apartment. “I realize now that during all these years of joy and happiness, and of difficult moments we shared together, my husband lied to me and had the Dominican divorce on the back of his mind. It’s what is hurting me the most,” Cristina said according to media reports.
Can you divorce someone without her knowledge?
Cristina says the divorce is fraudulent because she had no part in it or knowledge of it and no newspapers posted the divorce notice, as required by Dominican law. And she is right. No court in Washington would uphold a sham divorce like that. The divorce was unethical and unlawful – and ultimately, illegitimate.
There are other legal and ethical means to protect assets during a marriage, if couples so choose, such as pre- and post-nuptial agreements. If you have questions about divorce or asset protection, feel free to call a divorce lawyer from the Law Offices of Molly B. Kenny. Contact us at 425-460-0550. For more interesting articles like this, subscribe to our blog.