According to Paul Simon, there are 50 ways to leave your lover. You can hop a bus (Gus), make a new plan (Stan), or just drop off the key (Lee? Bree?). But even Simon, who’s given us all excellent ideas for getting out of relationships that are past their expiration date, didn’t put “secretly divorce your wife and then just hang around for 20 years until you get tired of the whole thing” into the song. Probably because that doesn’t rhyme with anything? Or because he had no idea that someone would actually dare to do that. And yet, someone has actually dared to do that.
Meet Cristina Carta Villa, a 59-year-old woman who’s been with her husband (now 90) for many, many years. Unfortunately for Villa, who once lived the high life with her husband Gabriel–jetting between houses in New York and France and raising a child together, the New York Post reports–her marriage ended when her husband became ill and she discovered that she wasn’t legally married to him. And it’s not like he told her, either. Carta Villa just happened to get a tax bill that didn’t have her name on it as the owner of the couple’s apartment. That’s when the lawyers got involved:
Cristina found out about it only in November when a tax bill arrived for their Manhattan home and her name wasn’t on it. She hired a lawyer to investigate, only to learn that Gabriel had tried to remove her name from the deed, using the Dominican Republic proceeding as proof she was not an owner, she charges.
The wife says in court papers she “has no recollection of [giving] any authorization to anyone to proceed with a divorce, or even thinking about divorce from the man she had just recently married.” If legal authority was given, she was either “surreptitiously impaired, drugged or misled” into giving it, claim court papers.
According to Carta Villa, the marriage she and her husband shared was a good one and she still loves him very much. According to the papers he filed in the Dominican Republic shortly after the wedding, however, Gabriel Villa claimed that living with his wife was an absolute nightmare. He even got a lawyer to “represent” his wife in the proceedings. Why? Because money, of course! According to Carta Villla, who’s suing to have the divorce nullified, her husband just wants to keep the apartment for himself and protect all his money.
Was Carta Villa’s husband worried she wouldn’t sign a prenup? Did he always mean to leave her quickly and quietly? Can their relationship continue despite this breach of trust? And who gets the apartment now? These are questions we likely won’t get immediate answers to, but considering the rules of common law, it’s likely that Carta Villa won’t be leaving this sham of a marriage empty-handed.