New York man marries, then secretly divorces wife to protect assets

Lawsuit seeks to nullify secret divorce in Dominican Republic

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A New York man married and then secretly divorced his wife just months after their wedding in an apparent attempt to protect his assets, according to a report in the New York Post.

Cristina Carta Villa, 59, is suing Gabriel Villa, 90, to nullify the divorce that she never knew about and keep him from selling an apartment that they shared.

When the couple married in 1994, Carta Villa quit her job teaching Italian literature at Boston College to be with Villa, a lawyer and travel agent who was more than 30 years older than she, the Post reported.

Four months later, the elder Villa secretly arranged for a divorce in the Dominican Republic, the Post reported.

"It's a fraud," Carta Villa told the Post.

Carta Villa found out about the divorce when a tax bill was delivered to the couple's home in November and her name wasn't on it, the Post reported. She hired a lawyer and discovered that Villa had tried to remove her name from the deed, using the divorce filing as proof that she wasn't an owner, the Post reported.

She is arguing that the divorce isn't legal because neither spouse appeared in court, and the split wasn't published in a newspaper, as required in the Dominican Republic.

"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," she told the Post.

Carta Villa believes that he wants to sell the apartment to his adult daughter, who lives in Rome, the Post reported.