Manhattan Marriage Mystery: Husband Accused of Committing Fraud, Secretly Divorcing Wife

January 20, 2016

Gabriel Villa and Cristina Carta Villa had what appeared to be a perfect marriage lasting over 20 years. However, unbeknownst to Mrs. Villa, Mr. Villa was actually divorced from his wife nearly the entire time. Only a few months after getting married in 1994, Mr. Villa secretly secured a divorce from his new bride.

A Secret Divorce to Shield Assets

At no point was the divorce registered or acknowledged in New York, where the couple’s primary residence was located. Mr. Villa even allegedly went so far as to hire attorneys to represent each spouse when he secretly filed for divorce in the Dominican Republic.

It is believed that Mr. Villa got the divorce so that he could shield his personal assets from his wife. At least that’s what Mrs. Villa’s lawyers are alleging in a lawsuit recently filed in Manhattan Supreme Court. Mrs. Villa is currently suing her ex-husband for fraud and attempting to nullify the divorce. Since Mrs. Villa did not even know about the divorce, her lawyers argue, she could not have consented to it.

Mrs. Villa learned about the secret divorce when she saw a tax bill for their NYC home and noticed that she was not listed on the deed. In fact, Mr. Villa had managed to get her name removed from the deed to the Manhattan apartment by using the Dominican divorce as proof. Now she is trying to stop her “husband” from selling their apartment – a sale that Mr. Villa is currently free to make on his own because the apartment is listed only in his name.

This “divorce” case figures to be particularly contentious because of the secretive nature of the divorce and the allegations of fraud. Moreover, the stakes in this case are extremely high: property records indicate that condos like the Villas’ apartment in the Midtown area of Manhattan typically sell for $1.4 million.

To learn more about this fascinating case, read the New York Post article, “Husband Secretly Divorced Wife after Wedding ‘to Protect Assets.’”

If you are a NY resident thinking about filing for divorce, you should speak to a qualified divorce attorney before making any final decisions. Jonathan D. Katz is an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can assist you with the divorce process. Contact Mr. Katz today to schedule a consultation about your case.

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