Published November 19, 2012
An elderly New York woman was reportedly still mourning her longtime husband’s death when she learned he had secretly divorced her eight years earlier to cut her out of his pension money and a $44,000 life insurance payout.
The New York Post reports that Vivian Pitt Dowers, 75, of Brooklyn, had been married to Columbia University janitor David Dowers, 65, for more than 30 years when he died of natural causes in their Crown Heights home in February 2011, according to papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
Dowers -- while going through her late husband’s possessions -- found divorce papers from 2002 that claimed she had “abandoned” him, the newspaper reports.
“What you talking about? Me no sign no divorce papers!” Vivian, a native of the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, said she exclaimed.
The couple, who had no children, lived together up until David Dowers' death and were happy, she told the newspaper.
David Dowers had gotten the “uncontested” split in 2002 by claiming his wife left him over their financial problems. He said in court documents that she moved to Canarsie and had been served with divorce papers. After David’s death, Vivian got a lawyer and proved that the Canarsie address she had supposedly moved to didn’t exist and that the process papers were forged.
Vivian and her lawyer — Roger Hawke of the Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn Office for the Aging — sought to throw out the divorce over the opposition of David’s children from an earlier relationship. The children, born before Vivian and David married, stood to inherit their dad’s estate if he was single when he died.
A judge ruled the divorce fraudulent last month and Vivian received David’s life-insurance payment and is now in line to get his pension money, the newspaper reports.