Woman Finds Out Husband Secretly Divorced Her 20 Years Ago to Protect His Fortune

Cristina Carta Villa was in a happy marriage for 20 years, or so she believed. Her seemingly perfect life fell apart a few months ago when she made a shocking discovery – she’s actually been divorced the whole time! Cristina, 59, is now suing her 90-year-old ‘husband’, Gabriel Villa, asking that the divorce be nullified because she never knew about it. She’s also trying to stop him from selling the $1.4 million New York apartment that has been their home for the past two decades.

Cristina first met Gabriel, a lawyer and travel agent 30 years her senior, at a mutual friend’s house. They connected almost instantly, falling in love and eventually getting married in 1994. “He was absolutely charming, and despite our age difference, it was love at first sight,” she said, speaking to New York Post.

After the wedding, Cristina left her job teaching Italian at Boston College to start a family with Gabriel in New York. They had a son, Lorenzo, and the family split their time between their homes in New York and Paris. Cristina thought she had a wonderful life, but it was all a lie – Gabriel had secretly divorced her only four months into the marriage, in order to avoid sharing his fortune with her.


Gabriel managed to pull it off without Cristina’s consent or knowledge by applying for a divorce in the Dominican Republic. He cited “incompatibility of temperaments,” telling Dominican authorities that his wife had made his life “unbearable.” And he maintained the sham by hiring lawyers to represent both himself and Cristina. Eventually, the divorce went through.

Cristina denies having any knowledge of the legal proceedings that took place in the Dominican Republic. She says she only found out about the divorce in November last year, when she realised that her name wasn’t mentioned on a tax bill for their one-bedroom condo in Manhattan’s West 55th street. The property was purchased after the wedding, and she was under the impression that she jointly owned it with her husband.

She then hired a lawyer to investigate, and soon realised that Gabriel had removed her name from the deed using the Dominican proceedings as proof of divorce. Devastated, Cristina decided that the she had no option but to sue the man she’d believed to be her husband.


In her court papers, she mentions that she “has no recollection of [giving] any authorisation to anyone to proceed with a divorce, or even thinking about divorce from the man she had just recently married.” She added that if legal authority was given, it happened only because she was either “surreptitiously impaired, drugged, or misled” into giving it.

Cristina also denied Gabriel’s claims of having a troubled marriage. “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.” In fact, she claims that when he was unwell in the hospital, she “was always at his side.”

“I realise 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,” she added. “It’s what is hurting me most.”

It isn’t clear whether the Dominican divorce is actually legal or not, because neither spouse actually physically appeared in court. For now, Cristina believes that her husband is using the “illegal and fraudulent” divorce to rob her of their home, and sell it to his adult daughter, Marina Villa, who lives in Rome.

via NY Post