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New York woman says husband got secret divorce 20 years ago

Imagine being divorced and not knowing it. Every morning you wake up next to your “spouse,” thinking you have the emotional and financial support that a marriage certificate implies. But it is all a lie perpetrated by your “husband” or “wife.”

A New York woman says this bizarre scenario happened to her -- for 20 years. She is suing her ex-husband to get the divorce voided, and specifically to get an injunction to stop him from selling their million-dollar apartment. The Sun says the proceeds from the sale would likely go to the ex-husband’s daughter from a previous relationship.

The couple married in 1994. Four months later, the ex-husband, now 90, secretly went to the Dominican Republic and obtained a divorce without his wife’s knowledge or consent. He hired attorneys to “represent” his wife and told the court there that it was “unbearable” being married to her.

Despite this strong language, the man returned to New York and continued to live with his “unbearable” ex-wife for two decades. The plaintiff says she quit her job as a college professor to be with her “husband,” bore him a son and cared for him when he was ill. She alleges she did not find out that her marriage ended decades ago until she saw on a tax bill that her name was not on the deed to the couple’s home. An investigation uncovered the alleged fraud.

Few legal proceedings are considered valid when one of the parties does not get at least the opportunity to respond. For one thing, when someone files for divorce, they generally must serve the other spouse with legal documents to make him or her aware of what is happening.

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