Added: Elayna Hargreaves - Date: 02.08.2021 04:22 - Views: 20160 - Clicks: 1628
The holder NH died while domiciled in Alabama; therefore, we look to the Alabama State law to determine if the NH and Claimant had a valid common-law marriage. The determination of whether a relationship between a man and a woman was intended as a common-law marriage is made on the facts of a particular case, with regard to the situation and circumstances of the individuals involved.
Nothing in the information provided suggests that either Claimant or NH lacked the capacity to marry. The evidence the Claimant provided, standing alone, do not clearly establish that the Claimant and NH had agreed or consented to permanently enter into a marriage relationship. The statements also do not provide clear and convincing evidence of public recognition of the existence of a marriage between Claimant and NH or that they openly assumed marital duties and obligations.
The information Alabama benefit relationship is insufficient to establish that Claimant and NH had a common-law marriage under Alabama law for determining Claimant's eligibility for WIB on NH's earnings record. You have asked whether the claimant and the holder had a valid common-law marriage for determining the claimant's eligibility for widow's insurance benefits WIB on the holder's earnings record, and if the marriage was not valid or of sufficient duration, whether the Social Security Administration SSA can reopen its August award of WIB to Claimant.
The claimant and the holder did not have a valid common-law marriage for determining the claimant's eligibility for WIB on the holder's earnings record. Claimant did not appeal SSA's reconsideration denial. In her undated Statement of Marital Relationship, Claimant alleged that Alabama benefit relationship and NH began living together as husband and wife in Alabama in June of orand continued to live together as husband and wife until NH's death in Claimant indicated that she and NH had an understanding about their relationship and stated that they lived together as husband and wife and presented themselves that way to others.
Claimant also indicated that their understanding did not change and she and NH intended to stay together forever. Claimant stated that she and NH Alabama benefit relationship each other, shared the bills and shopping, gathered with family and friends, and slept in the same bed every night. Claimant indicated that she and NH did not have an understanding as to how their relationship could be ended or an agreement or promise that a ceremonial marriage would also be performed in the future. Claimant stated that she "never really thought about" changing her last name after she and NH began living together.
Claimant reported that no tax returns, deeds, contracts, insurance policies, bank s, or other documents indicated they were husband and wife, nor did they have any t business dealings or t charge s as husband and wife. Claimant stated that she and NH introduced each other to relatives, friends, neighbors, and others as husband and wife.
NH's friend also stated that he lived next door and saw NH and Claimant almost every day together. NH's friend indicated that, to his knowledge, NH and Claimant were generally known as husband and wife, and he considered them husband and wife. NH's friend stated that NH and Claimant lived next door and "acted just as any other husband and wife would.
NH's friend also indicated that to his knowledge, NH and Claimant lived together continuously. In a February Statement Regarding Marriage, Claimant's sister stated that she saw Claimant and NH several times a year and stayed with them for vacation or holidays. Claimant's sister indicated that, to her knowledge, NH and Claimant were generally known as husband and wife, and she considered them husband and wife.
Claimant's sister stated that Claimant and NH "lived Alabama benefit relationship and did everything together, just as husband and wife," and [w]hen [NH] worked out of town, he would send for [Claimant] so they could spend more time together. NH's brother indicated that to his knowledge, NH and Claimant were generally known as husband and wife, and he considered them husband and wife. NH's brother stated that NH and Claimant "lived together and took care of each other as any husband and wife would.
NH's brother opined that NH and Claimant maintained a home and lived together as husband and wife, and to his knowledge, they lived together continuously. The court ordered that NH was common-law married to Claimant when he died and Claimant is an heir at law and surviving spouse of NH. The court indicated that it granted Claimant's application based on "testimony given and evidence presented," but the court did not describe any testimony or evidence in its order.
A claimant may be eligible for WIB if the claimant is the widow of an individual who died fully insured. A claimant may qualify as a widow for purposes of WIB if the claimant was married to the insured individual for a period of not less than nine months immediately prior to the day on which the insured individual died. Therefore, we look to Alabama law to determine if Claimant and NH were validly married.
Alabama recently abolished common-law marriage as of January xx, See Ala. However, "[a]n otherwise valid common-law marriage entered into before January xx,shall continue to be valid in" Alabama. The elements of a valid Alabama common-law marriage are: 1 the capacity to marry; 2 a present agreement or mutual consent to enter into the marriage relationship; 3 public recognition of the existence of the marriage; and 4 cohabitation or mutual assumption openly of marital duties and obligations.
See Adams v. BoanSo. These elements may be "either explicitly expressed or implicitly inferred from the circumstances. BoswellSo. Alabama courts "closely scrutinize claims of common law marriage and require clear and convincing proof thereof. Estate of WeaverSo. Evidence that, when weighed against evidence in opposition, will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm conviction as to each essential element of the claim and a high probability as to the correctness of the conclusion. Proof Alabama benefit relationship clear and convincing evidence requires a level of proof greater than a preponderance of the evidence or the substantial weight of the evidence, but less than beyond a reasonable doubt.
Dyess94 So. The evidence provided by Claimant is insufficient to establish that she and NH had a common-law marriage under Alabama law. See LoftonSo. See AdamsSo. However, the statements, standing alone, do not clearly establish that Claimant, and particularly NH, had agreed or consented to permanently enter into a marriage relationship. Jenkins92 So. Holston67 So. Moreover, Claimant did not provide any corroborating evidence Alabama benefit relationship support her allegations or the allegations of her sister, NH's brother, or NH's friend. Claimant admitted that no documents, such as tax returns or bank s, indicated that she and NH were husband and wife.
See, e. The February order of the Probate Court of Baldwin Alabama benefit relationship, Alabama, also does not provide clear and convincing proof that Claimant and NH were in a common-law marriage under Alabama law. SullivanF. However, SSA cannot Alabama benefit relationship an adjudication of a state court where the following prerequisites exist: 1 an issue in a claim for Social Security benefits ly has been determined by a state court of competent jurisdiction; 2 the issue was genuinely contested before the state court by Alabama benefit relationship with opposing interests; 3 the issue falls within the general category of domestic relations law; and 4 the resolution by the state trial court is consistent with the law enunciated by the highest court in the state.
RichardsonF. In addition, the Probate Court was a court of competent jurisdiction to decide whether NH was common-law married to Claimant to the time of his death, at least in the context of administering NH's estate. The Alabama Code grants Alabama probate courts original and general jurisdiction over "[a]ll controversies in relation to the right of executorship or of administration" of estates. Thus, "the probate court has 'original and general jurisdiction in practically all matters having to do with probate and administration of decedents' estates. In interpreting section b 3 of the Alabama Code, the Alabama Supreme Court has specifically held that "the probate courts of Alabama are vested with the authority to determine the existence vel non [or not] of a common law marriage as a 'controversy' that relates 'to the right of executorship or of administration' of a decedent's estate.
Claimant filed her application with the Probate Court to determine NH's heirs at law, which falls within matters having to do with the administration of NH's estate. Therefore, the Probate Court had jurisdiction to decide whether Claimant and NH were in a common-law marriage. However, nothing in the Probate Court's order suggests that parties with opposing interests genuinely contested the issue of Claimant's alleged common-law marriage to NH.
The order states that the court considered testimony and evidence, but the order does indicate who testified or what evidence it considered. Thus, the order does not show that any party genuinely contested Claimant's application and her allegation that she was NH's common-law wife.
The Probate Court's order also lacks information indicating that the court complied with Alabama law in determining that Claimant was NH's common-law wife and an heir at law and surviving spouse of NH. The Probate Court's order does not address whether Claimant and NH had the capacity to marry, whether they had a present agreement or mutual consent to enter into the marriage relationship, whether there was public recognition of the existence of the marriage, or whether Claimant and NH cohabitated or mutually and openly assumed marital duties and obligations.
Therefore, the Probate Court's order is not entitled to any special ificance. See BakerF. Moreover, even if a party with opposing interests genuinely contested the issue of Claimant's alleged common-law marriage to NH and the Probate Court decision was consistent with Alabama law, the order does not establish that the purported common-law marriage lasted the requisite nine months prior to the day of NH's death.
The Probate Court issued its order on February 5,nearly two years after NH's death, and the court stated that NH was common-law married to Claimant at the time of his death, with no finding as to when their common-law marriage began or how long the marriage may have lasted. In any event, even if the Probate Court's order related back at least nine months before NH's death, the Probate Court's order and the statements from Claimant, her sister, NH's brother, and NH's friend do not provide clear and convincing evidence that Claimant and NH were in a common-law marriage under Alabama law.
Finally, SSA may reopen a determination for any reason if it does so within twelve months of the date of the notice of the initial determination. See 20 C. The resumption of cohabitation between former spouses after their divorce does not, in itself, establish a common-law marriage, because the parties must also manifest a mutual intent to be man and wife.
Under Gray v. Richardson the Agency would not be free to ignore the court's order finding there was no common-law marriage given that both NH and claimant appeared and were represented in the State court civil action. As discussed in greater detail below, we believe the claimant failed to present sufficient evidence to show that she is the holder's spouse through a valid common-law marriage. NH was domiciled in Alabama when Claimant filed her application. Although Claimant ly filed a claim for retirement benefits on her own record, she claims she had not sought benefits on NH's record because she did not want the Agency to contact him given the abusive nature of their relationship.
Claimant admitted during her interview that a judge had ly ruled she and NH did not have a common-law marriage; however, she claims they d living together after the court order, this time as husband and wife. Although the Agency sent and forms to NH on two occasions, he returned these forms without completing them.
The Agency was also unable to contact NH by phone. Based on the evidence supplied by Claimant, the Agency found that she was entitled to benefits on NH's as his wife in a decision dated August xx, On November xx,NH came to the Bessemer, Alabama field office to ask about the benefits being paid to Claimant on his.
Although NH was unwilling to provide a ed statement, he reported he did not have a common-law marriage with Claimant and presented three pieces of evidence to support his position: 1 a divorce decree dated March xx, Alabama benefit relationship 2 an order from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, dated January xx,finding that NH and Claimant had not entered into a common law marriage; and 3 an order dated September xx,in which the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, again found that NH and Claimant were not common-law married as alleged by Claimant. Subsequently, Claimant presented a copy of a tax notice listing the couple as divorced.
Although Claimant acknowledges she and NH divorced, she alleges that they began living together as husband and wife after the divorce. In order to qualify for wife's insurance benefits, the "wife" or "divorced wife" of an individual entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits must file an application; have attained age 62; in the case of a divorced wife, have not remarried; and not be entitled to old-age or disability insurance benefits, or her benefit amount is less than one-half the primary insurance amount of such individual.
In pertinent part, the term "wife" means the wife of an insured individual, but only if she was married to him for a period of not less than one year preceding the date she filed her application. A woman is the "divorced wife" of an insured individual if she is "divorced from [the] individual, but only if she had been married to such individual for a period of 10 years immediately before the date the divorce became effective.
Because Claimant and NH were married less than a year prior to their March divorce, she would only be eligible for wife's insurance benefits if she establishes that she and the NH remarried after their divorce. Claimant alleges that she and NH entered into a common-law marriage after their divorce. An applicant may qualify as the wife of an insured individual if "the courts of the State in which such insured individual is domiciled at the time such applicant files an application. Social Security regulations define common-law marriage as one considered valid under a state's laws even though there is no formal marriage ceremony.
Because Claimant was domiciled in Alabama when Claimant filed her application, we look to Alabama law to determine if they entered into a common-law marriage after their divorce. Alabama recognizes common-law marriage and treats it as "a co-equal, alternate method of validating the connubial union of two people.
BrownSo. The elements of a valid common-law marriage under Alabama law are: 1 the capacity to marry; 2 present agreement or mutual consent to enter into the marriage relationship; 3 public recognition of the existence of the marriage; and 4 cohabitation or mutual assumption openly of marital duties and obligations.
Adams v. The mere resumption of cohabitation between former spouses after their divorce does not, in itself, establish a common-law marriage, because the parties must also manifest a mutual intent to be man and wife.
Hudson v. HudsonSo. As a result, Claimant must show more than the mere fact that she and the NH d living together after their divorce in order to demonstrate the existence of a common-law marriage. In this case, Claimant did not provide "preferred evidence" of a common-law marriage, as NH is alive and he did not provide a ed statement that he was Claimant's husband. Instead, Claimant presented her own Alabama benefit relationship, a statement from her sister, and certain insurance and property records listing Claimant and NH as a married couple.
This evidence appears sufficient to support the Agency's original determination in August that Claimant was the common-law wife of NH. Although NH did not provide a ed statement, he supplied compelling evidence after Agency's August determination suggesting no common-law marriage ever existed with Claimant. Courts in Alabama "closely scrutinize claims of common-law marriage and require clear and convincing proof thereof.Alabama benefit relationship
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