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Motivations of a Secret Divorce

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Motivations of a Secret Divorce

What would you do if you found out, after 20 years with your spouse, raising a son and flitting back and forth between New York and France that you have actually been divorced for almost the whole 20 years?

What sounds like the premise of a Jennifer Aniston (no, no, definitely Sandra Bullock) film actually happened.

The couple, Gabriel Villa and Cristina Carta Villa, married in 1994 and apparently, the marriage could not have been happier. Despite the 30-year age difference, Cristina referred to the relationship as love at first sight. That love crumbled when Cristina saw a tax bill for the Manhattan home the couple shared ”“ and her name was not on it.

An investigation found that Gabriel had divorced her four months into their marriage by filing in the Dominican Republic, claiming that life with her was completely unbearable. Under Cristina’s nose, Gabriel allegedly hired two opposing attorneys to represent himself and Cristina in order to have the marriage nullified. Cristina believes that move was motivated by greed ”“ Gabriel did not want her to have any claim to his assets if a divorce were to occur.

Was the divorce legal? It certainly does not seem that way. Cristina cites Dominican law in the matter, claiming that because neither party appeared in Dominican court and the divorce was not published in the newspaper, a requirement in the Dominican Republic, the divorce could not be legal. Hence, she is suing Gabriel to nullify the illegal divorce in order to protect her claims to marital assets.

If Cristina’s story holds up, the courts may not look kindly on Gabriel. Protecting his assets could have been much simpler if he’d just signed a prenup.

Our Denver divorce attorneys are well-versed in matters of property division during divorce.