Maria del Carmen Gordo was confirmed on Tuesday as the secret daughter of Antonio Alvarez Villalon, some 30 years after his death following DNA testing on his exhumed body.
Her mother was working as a maid in the Alvarez household in Morón de la Frontera during the 1940s when she had an affair with the wealthy married businessman more than 25 years her senior and fell pregnant.
“When it was discovered she was pregnant, she was sacked,” explained Fernando Osuna, the lawyer acting for Gordo, in a press conference on Tuesday, reported by Spanish newspaper ABC.
“At the time it would have brought public scandal,” said Osuna, adding that mother and daughter were given financial support in the form of a house to live in.
As a young child she went to live with her grandparents while her mother sought work in another household.
“We had it really hard. Imagine what it was like at that time being a single mother,” said Gordo, a retired seamstress. “I had boyfriends who ran away when they learnt that I had no father.”
She admitted that her mother, also named Maria, never told her the identity of her father. And she never asked, out of respect.
“But people in the village knew and they told me,” she said.
It wasn’t until several years after the death of her mother in 2004, that Gordo sought to find the truth and seek what was rightfully hers, after her sons heard of the lawyer’s success in a similar case.
Several residents of Morón gave statements as witnesses in the legal case to get paternity recognized.
“There were witnesses who had seen her mother pregnant and then dismissed from her job and then saw this powerful man visit her and the child,” explained Osuna.
The DNA test showed that there was a 99.99 percent certainty that Gordo was the daughter of Alvarez. He died 30 years ago without direct descendants but his estate was inherited by a niece.
Under Spanish law, as the only child of the deceased, Gordo would be entitled to claim 66 percent of the entire estate, which includes property, land, assets and the profits generated in the more than years since he died.
But her lawyer explained that they would seek an agreement of €3m in exchange for not breaking up the estate.
“What I want is legal recognition that this man was my father and that this serves to encourage others like me in the same position,” Gordo said.