A-37714, OCTOBER 17, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 138

A-37714: Oct 17, 1931

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TO A PERSON CLAIMING TO BE THE COMMON-LAW WIDOW OF A DECEASED SOLDIER IS UNAUTHORIZED WHERE THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED IS INSUFFICIENT TO SHOW WITH CONVINCING CERTAINTY ALL THE REQUISITES NECESSARY TO ESTABLISH THE FACT OF A COMMON-LAW RELATIONSHIP OF MAN AND WIFE. AFTER A DECISION HAS BEEN RENDERED AT THE REQUEST OF A DISBURSING OFFICER ON THE VALIDITY OF A VOUCHER BEFORE HIM FOR THE PAYMENT HIS INTEREST IN THE MATTER IS ENDED. IF THE CONCLUSION IS UNSATISFACTORY TO THE CLAIMANT. 1931: I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF AUGUST 22. BY WHICH IT WAS HELD PAYMENT WAS NOT AUTHORIZED OF $386.40 REPRESENTING AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIX MONTHS' PAY ON A VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU IN FAVOR OF LILLIAN FOLSOM. THE EVIDENCE NOW PRESENTED WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION IS IN THE FORM OF TWO AFFIDAVITS.

A-37714, OCTOBER 17, 1931, 11 COMP. GEN. 138

GRATUITIES, SIX MONTHS' DEATH - ARMY ENLISTED MAN - DISBURSING OFFICERS ADVANCE DECISIONS PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' PAY GRATUITY UNDER THE ACT OF DECEMBER 17, 1919, 41 STAT. 367, AS AMENDED, TO A PERSON CLAIMING TO BE THE COMMON-LAW WIDOW OF A DECEASED SOLDIER IS UNAUTHORIZED WHERE THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED IS INSUFFICIENT TO SHOW WITH CONVINCING CERTAINTY ALL THE REQUISITES NECESSARY TO ESTABLISH THE FACT OF A COMMON-LAW RELATIONSHIP OF MAN AND WIFE. AFTER A DECISION HAS BEEN RENDERED AT THE REQUEST OF A DISBURSING OFFICER ON THE VALIDITY OF A VOUCHER BEFORE HIM FOR THE PAYMENT HIS INTEREST IN THE MATTER IS ENDED, AND IF THE CONCLUSION IS UNSATISFACTORY TO THE CLAIMANT, THE MATTER MAY BE PRESENTED FOR DIRECT SETTLEMENT WITH WHATEVER ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE DEEMED NECESSARY TO SUBSTANTIATE THE CLAIM.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO MAJ. J. B. HARPER, UNITED STATES ARMY, OCTOBER 17, 1931:

I HAVE YOUR REQUEST OF AUGUST 22, 1931, FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF DECISION A-37714, DATED JULY 29, 1931, BY WHICH IT WAS HELD PAYMENT WAS NOT AUTHORIZED OF $386.40 REPRESENTING AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO SIX MONTHS' PAY ON A VOUCHER SUBMITTED BY YOU IN FAVOR OF LILLIAN FOLSOM, WHO CLAIMS TO BE THE COMMON-LAW WIDOW OF EDGAR S. FOLSOM, LATE SERGEANT OF COMPANY G, TWENTY-NINTH INFANTRY, WHO DIED FEBRUARY 28, 1931, AT COLUMBUS, GA.

THE EVIDENCE NOW PRESENTED WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION IS IN THE FORM OF TWO AFFIDAVITS, ONE PREPARED FOR THE SIGNATURE OF AND SIGNED BY MRS. JESSIE MATHEWS, WITH WHOM THE SOLDIER AND THE PAYEE OF THE VOUCHER RESIDED FROM SOME TIME IN NOVEMBER, 1929, TO JANUARY, 1930, AND THE OTHER PREPARED FOR THE SIGNATURE OF AND SIGNED BY H. L. SILVERS, WHO RESIDED IN THE SAME HOUSE OCCUPIED BY THE SOLDIER AND CLAIMANT FROM JANUARY, 1928, TO JULY 1928, AND WHICH EVIDENCE WAS PRESUMABLY OBTAINED BY YOU AND MADE THE BASIS FOR YOUR REQUEST FOR RECONSIDERATION ON THE SUGGESTION CONTAINED IN THE SECOND PARAGRAPH OF INDORSEMENT OF THE CHIEF OF FINANCE, DATED AUGUST 10, 1931.

UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 8, ACT OF JULY 31, 1894, 28 STAT. 208, YOU WERE ENTITLED TO PRESENT THE VOUCHER TO THIS OFFICE FOR AN ADVANCE DECISION AS TO THE LEGALITY OF THE PROPOSED PAYMENT, AND WHEN SUCH DECISION WAS RENDERED YOUR INTEREST IN THE MATTER TERMINATED. IF THE CLAIMANT WAS DISSATISFIED WITH THE CONCLUSION REACHED, SHE WAS PRIVILEGED TO SUBMIT A CLAIM TO THIS OFFICE WITH SUCH ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE AS WAS DEEMED NECESSARY TO SUBSTANTIATE HER CLAIM. A-33782, DATED JUNE 11, 1931.

TREATING YOUR PRESENT SUBMISSION AS A CLAIM BY THE ALLEGED WIDOW, THE CLAIM IS DISALLOWED.

THE RELATIONSHIP IS CLAIMED TO HAVE EXISTED FROM JANUARY 28, 1928, TO THE DATE OF THE SOLDIER'S DEATH, FEBRUARY 28, 1931. THE CLAIM THAT IT WAS INTENDED AS A BONE FIDE MARRIAGE IS SUPPORTED ONLY BY AFFIDAVITS OF CASUAL ACQUAINTANCES AFTER THE RELATIONSHIP COMMENCED THAT THE CLAIMANT WAS INTRODUCED BY THE DECEASED AS HIS WIFE. WHETHER EITHER OR BOTH PARTIES WERE LEGALLY CAPABLE OF CONTRACTING A VALID MARRIAGE HAS NOT EVEN BEEN SUGGESTED. THE REAL NAME OF THE CLAIMANT--- AS DISTINGUISHED FROM HER ASSUMED NAME AS THE WIDOW OF THE DECEASED--- HAS NOT BEEN STATED.

A CLAIM FOR SIX MONTHS' GRATUITY PAY BY A WOMAN AS THE COMMON-LAW WIFE OF THE DECEASED, TO RECEIVE ANY CONSIDERATION MUST BE ESTABLISHED BY THE CLEAREST EVIDENCE OF THE INTENT OF THE PARTIES AT THE INCEPTION OF THE RELATIONSHIP TO ENTER INTO A MARRIAGE CONTRACT; AND THAT BOTH PARTIES WERE LEGALLY COMPETENT TO CONTRACT MARRIAGE. A MERETRICIOUS RELATIONSHIP CAN NOT BE CONVERTED INTO A COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE UPON THE DEATH OF THE MAN--- A MEMBER OF THE MILITARY ESTABLISHMENT--- BY AFFIDAVITS AS TO THE PROBABLY SELF-SERVING STATEMENTS OF THE MAN DURING HIS LIFETIME THAT THE WOMAN WAS HIS WIFE TO SECURE TO THE WOMAN PAYMENT OF THE SIX MONTHS' GRATUITY PAY.