Wife: Husband Secretly Divorced Me 20 Years Ago
Cristina Carta Villa, 59, files suit against her husband
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2016 4:00 PM CST
A couple stands in Brooklyn Bridge Park along the East River, looking toward lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge.   (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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(Newser) – While some marriages end in divorce, this one apparently essentially started with it. New York wife Cristina Carta Villa, 59, claims that husband Gabriel Villa secretly divorced her right after they married 20 years ago in an effort to retain his assets, the New York Post reports. Now she's suing the 90-year-old to nullify the divorce and hold onto their Manhattan condo. "I realize now that during all these years of joy and happiness, and of difficult moments we shared together, my husband lied to me," says Cristina. She claims to have learned about the divorce in November after receiving a tax bill for their one-bedroom condo that didn't include her name. She apparently hired a lawyer who discovered that Gabriel had divorced her in the Dominican Republic (although they didn't live there) four months after they married, citing "incompatibility of temperaments."

Gabriel then allegedly tried to wipe her name from the condo deed using the Dominican documentation. But she "has no recollection of (giving) any authorization to anyone to proceed with a divorce," Cristina says in court papers. The two married in New York in 1994, and no divorce was logged there. Cristina suspects her husband wants to sell the condo, which the Post estimates could be worth $1.4 million, to his daughter from a previous relationship. It's not the first such story to feature in the Post: In 2014 it had the case of James A. Ruggiero, a Staten Island man who claimed his wife, a divorce lawyer, not only divorced him in secret in 2009 but also tricked him into signing a post-nup that awarded her their $1 million home and a slew of other assets. The Advance reported that Ruggiero's annual income was listed as $12,000 in the post-nup, to his wife's $200,000.