A-10075, AUGUST 5, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 92

A-10075: Aug 5, 1925

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IS NOT ENTITLED. REQUESTING DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PAY A VOUCHER INCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER. FROM A REPORT OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT IT IS SHOWN THAT LIEUTENANT WATSON DIED FROM WOUNDS "NOT THE RESULT OF HIS OWN MISCONDUCT. THE ADDRESS OF THE WIFE IS NOT GIVEN. THE ADDRESS OF THE CHILD AND PARENTS IS STATED AS 7 WEST NINETY SECOND STREET. LIEUTENANT WATSON WAS GRANTED AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE FROM HIS WIFE. WAS GIVEN THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF HIS MINOR CHILD. THE COURT ORDER STATING THAT THE PETITIONERS: * * * ARE IN COMFORTABLE CIRCUMSTANCES AND ABLE AND DESIROUS OF GIVING THIS CHILD OF TENDER YEARS THE CARE WHICH SHE NEEDS AND WHICH HER PARENTS ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO GIVE HER.

A-10075, AUGUST 5, 1925, 5 COMP. GEN. 92

GRATUITIES, SIX MONTHS' DEATH - ADOPTED CHILD THE MINOR CHILD OF A DECEASED OFFICER OF THE ARMY, LEGALLY ADOPTED BY THE OFFICER'S PARENTS PRIOR TO HIS DEATH, AND NOT ACTUALLY DEPENDENT UPON HIM, IS NOT ENTITLED, UPON DEATH OF THE OFFICER, TO PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' PAY GRATUITY AUTHORIZED BY THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, 41 STAT. 367.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL GINN TO CAPT. CARL HALLA, UNITED STATES ARMY, AUGUST 5, 1925:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 10, 1925, REQUESTING DECISION AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE AUTHORIZED TO PAY A VOUCHER INCLOSED WITH YOUR LETTER, STATED IN THE AMOUNT OF $1,650, COVERING SIX MONTHS' GRATUITY PAY UNDER ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, 41 STAT. 367, IN FAVOR OF JOSEPH A. WATSON, FATHER BY ADOPTION OF MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON, INFANT DAUGHTER OF FIRST LIEUT. ARTHUR G. WATSON, AIR SERVICE, UNITED STATES ARMY, WHO DIED MAY 11, 1925.

THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, 41 STAT. 367, PROVIDES:

THAT HEREAFTER, IMMEDIATELY UPON OFFICIAL NOTIFICATION OF THE DEATH FROM WOUNDS OR DISEASE, NOT THE RESULT OF HIS OWN MISCONDUCT, OR ANY OFFICER OR ENLISTED MAN ON THE ACTIVE LIST OF THE REGULAR ARMY OR ON THE RETIRED LIST WHEN ON ACTIVE DUTY, THE QUARTERMASTER GENERAL OF THE ARMY SHALL CAUSE TO BE PAID TO THE WIDOW, AND IF THERE BE NO WIDOW TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN, AND IF THERE BE NO WIDOW OR CHILD TO ANY OTHER DEPENDENT RELATIVE OF SUCH OFFICER OR ENLISTED MAN PREVIOUSLY DESIGNATED BY HIM, AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIX MONTHS' PAY AT THE RATE RECEIVED BY SUCH OFFICER OR ENLISTED MAN AT THE DATE OF HIS DEATH. THE SECRETARY OF WAR SHALL ESTABLISH REGULATIONS REQUIRING EACH OFFICER AND ENLISTED MAN HAVING NO WIFE OR CHILD TO DESIGNATE THE PROPER DEPENDENT RELATIVE TO WHOM THIS AMOUNT SHALL BE PAID IN CASE OF HIS DEATH * * *.

FROM A REPORT OF THE WAR DEPARTMENT IT IS SHOWN THAT LIEUTENANT WATSON DIED FROM WOUNDS "NOT THE RESULT OF HIS OWN MISCONDUCT, IN LINE OF DUTY," AND THAT HE DESIGNATED AS HIS BENEFICIARIES TO RECEIVE THE SIX MONTHS' PAY GRATUITY LOIS C. WATSON (WIFE NOT DEPENDENT, DIVORCE PENDING), MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON (CHILD), JOSEPH A. WATSON (FATHER), AND IDA HAZEL WATSON (MOTHER). THE ADDRESS OF THE WIFE IS NOT GIVEN. THE ADDRESS OF THE CHILD AND PARENTS IS STATED AS 7 WEST NINETY SECOND STREET, NEW YORK, N.Y.

FROM COPIES OF COURT RECORDS, DOCUMENTS, LETTERS, AND OTHER EVIDENCE FURNISHED BY YOU, IT APPEARS THAT BY A COURT DECREE DATED MARCH 31, 1922, LIEUTENANT WATSON WAS GRANTED AN ABSOLUTE DIVORCE FROM HIS WIFE, LOIS CURTIS WATSON, AND WAS GIVEN THE CARE AND CUSTODY OF HIS MINOR CHILD; THAT BY A WRITTEN AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BY LIEUTENANT WATSON AND HIS PARENTS, HE INTRUSTED HIS INFANT DAUGHTER TO THEIR CARE UNTIL SHE SHOULD BECOME 18 YEARS OF AGE, AND AGREED TO PAY THEM $40 PER MONTH FOR HER MAINTENANCE AND TO FURNISH SUCH OTHER THINGS AS SHOULD BE NECESSARY FOR HER COMFORT; THAT ON MAY 2, 1922, THE PARENTS OF LIEUTENANT WATSON LEGALLY ADOPTED HIS INFANT DAUGHTER, MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON, AS THEIR LEGAL CHILD, THE COURT ORDER STATING THAT THE PETITIONERS:

* * * ARE IN COMFORTABLE CIRCUMSTANCES AND ABLE AND DESIROUS OF GIVING THIS CHILD OF TENDER YEARS THE CARE WHICH SHE NEEDS AND WHICH HER PARENTS ARE NOT IN A POSITION TO GIVE HER.

ORDERED, THAT THE ADOPTION BY JOSEPH A. WATSON AND IDA H. WATSON JOINTLY OF MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON, AN INFANT OF THE AGE OF ABOUT 16 MONTHS, OF WHICH THE PARENTS ARE ARTHUR G. WATSON AND LOIS C. WATSON, BE AND THE SAME IS HEREBY ALLOWED AND CONFIRMED; AND IT IS HEREBY DIRECTED THAT THE SAID MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON SHALL HENCEFORTH BE REGARDED AND TREATED IN ALL RESPECTS AS THE CHILD OF JOSEPH A. WATSON AND IDA H. WATSON.

THE QUESTION AS TO YOUR RIGHT TO PAY THE VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU ARISES BECAUSE OF YOUR DOUBT AS TO WHETHER MARGERY VIRGINIA WATSON MAY PROPERLY BE CONSIDERED THE CHILD OF LIEUTENANT WATSON WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, IN VIEW OF HAVING BEEN LEGALLY ADOPTED PRIOR TO THE OFFICER'S DEATH.

THE USUAL RULE IS THAT ADOPTION MAKES ONE A CHILD OF THE FOSTER PARENTS. THE ADOPTION OF THE INFANT DAUGHTER OF LIEUTENANT WATSON SHIFTED THE LEGAL OBLIGATION FOR HER SUPPORT FROM HER FATHER, THE OFFICER, TO HER ADOPTING PARENTS, AND IT IS SHOWN THAT THERE WAS EVIDENCE BEFORE THE COURT THAT THE ADOPTING PARENTS WERE IN CIRCUMSTANCES ENABLING THEM TO DISCHARGE THE OBLIGATION THUS IMPOSED UPON THEM.

IT MUST BE HELD THE ADOPTED CHILD OF ANOTHER PERSON NOT IN THE ARMY IS NOT THE CHILD OF AN OFFICER OF THE ARMY WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, AND YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO PAY THE VOUCHER.