Elderly woman discovers husband secretly divorced her eight years before his death

An elderly Brooklyn woman was shocked to discover that her husband had secretly divorced her several years before his death, according to papers recently filed at the Manhattan Supreme Court.

According to a report in the New York Post, 75 year-old Vivian Pitt Dowers had been married to David Dowers for more than 30 years when he died of natural causes in their home in Crown Heights last February. The 65 year-old worked as a janitor at Columbia University. When searching through his belongings she was shocked to discover a briefcase under his bed which contained completed divorce papers from 2002. These claimed that she had “abandoned” him and moved to Canarsie, a New York suburb, leading to speculation that he may have planned to run away with another woman at the time.

Following the discovery, Mrs Dowers hired a lawyer and proved that the address she had reportedly moved to did not exist and the divorce papers were partially forged. Last month a judge ruled that the divorce had been fraudulent. Mrs Dowers has now received her husband’s life insurance payout and should also receive his pension money at a later date.

“I never knew he was going to be like that,” said Mrs Dowers of her late husband, adding that she still loves him.

To find out whether someone is or was divorced  in England and Wales, you can search the Central Index of Decrees Absolute. To do so, you will need to complete a D440 form and send it to:

The Principal Registry of the Family Division
Decree Absolute Search Section
First Avenue House
42 – 49 High Holborn
London WCV 6NP
Tel: 020 7947 6000 (switchboard)

The form is available from the same address. A fee is payable for searches. For more information, click here.

Photo by Sam Stroube under a Creative Commons licence

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

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