Fairfax, VA (Law Firm Newswire) March 7, 2016 – Cristina Carta Villa is filing a lawsuit against her husband, Gabriel Villa, to invalidate the divorce about which she knew nothing, and to prevent him from selling an apartment in which they both resided.
The couple met at the home of a friend, and married in New York in 1994. Cristina Villa, 59, gave up her job as a teacher at Boston College where she taught Italian literature, to marry Gabriel Villa, who is 90 years old, and who was working as a lawyer and travel agent when they met.
However, just four months after they were married, Gabriel Villa covertly made arrangements for a divorce in the Dominican Republic. Cristina Villa states she was unaware of, and never gave her consent to, a Dominican divorce, for which there was no registration in New York. Together, they purchased a one-bedroom condominium located on West 55th Street, had one son and spent time in Manhattan, Massachusetts and France.
Prominent family law attorney Lisa McDevitt states, “A foreign divorce is illegal in most states, including Virginia, if neither spouse was domiciled in the foreign country at the time the country granted the divorce.”
Cristina Villa stated that while Gabriel Villa was ill in the hospital, she was constantly by his side. He named her his health care proxy, and gave her power of attorney. However, according to authorities in the Dominican Republic, Gabriel Villa described his life with Cristina Villa as unbearable. Although the couple did not reside in the Dominican Republic, Gabriel Villa commenced divorce proceedings there. He employed attorneys to represent him and Cristina Villa, and justified the split by citing “incompatibility of temperaments.”
Cristina Villa only recently discovered the divorce after receiving a tax bill for their Manhattan condo, and realized that her name was not on the bill. She employed an attorney to conduct an investigation, which revealed that Gabriel Villa had attempted to remove her name from the deed, and used the Dominican Republic divorce as evidence of her lack of ownership rights to the property.
In her lawsuit, Cristina Villa contends that the divorce is illegal in the Dominican Republic because neither spouse made an appearance in court, and there was no publication of the divorce in a newspaper, as is required under Dominican law. She thinks Gabriel Villa wishes to sell the condominium to his adult daughter, Marina Villa, who resides in Rome.
Lisa Lane McDevitt
2155 Bonaventure Drive
Vienna, VA 22181