After living as a married couple for two decades, a woman is suing her husband because he secretly divorced her months after the wedding.
Cristina Carta Villa, 59, is suing her 90-year-old spouse of 20 years, Gabriel Villa, to nullify the divorce she never knew about and to halt the sale of their apartment in Manhattan.
The couple, who have a son together, divided their time between New York, Massachusetts and France, The New York Post reports. However, four months after their wedding, Gabriel flew to the Dominican Republic to secretly arrange a divorce in order to reportedly protect his assets.
According to a Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit, he cited “incompatibility of temperaments” as the reason for the divorce and said his life with Cristina was “unbearable,” The Post notes. Gabriel reportedly hired attorneys to represent each spouse.
"How can you divorce someone in a country that they don't live in and weren't married in?” MadMan2012 wrote in a Reddit discussion about the incident. “This looks like fraud every way I look at it.”
“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,” Cristina told The Post. “It’s what is hurting me the most.”
In November 2015, a tax bill arrived for the couple’s home in Manhattan that did not have her name on it. After an investigation, her lawyer determined that Gabriel had attempted to remove her name from the deed, and he used the divorce papers to prove that she had no rights to the residence, Cristina claims in the lawsuit. Prior to this incident, Cristina had no knowledge of the divorce.
According to Cristina, the divorce is not legal as neither she nor her husband appeared in court. The divorce proceedings were also not published in a newspaper, as required by Dominican law.
Despite everything, Cristina still believes they had a loving relationship.
“It was and somehow it’s still a great love,” she said. “Gabriel is a very charismatic man, strong, intelligent and very charming. I think we could say I was a loving and caring wife and mother.”