B-119259, MAY 11, 1954

B-119259: May 11, 1954

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YOU REQUEST DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE AIRMAN MARRIED MERCEDES THOMAS ON FEBRUARY 4. THAT SHE WAS PREVIOUSLY MARRIED TO ONE PAUL HOPKINS. THAT NO EVIDENCE OF DIVORCE AS TO THE LATTER MARRIAGE IS AVAILABLE. THERE WAS SUBMITTED WITH THE VOUCHER A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE TO SUBSTANTIATE THE MARRIAGE OF DARTHARD TO MERCEDES THOMAS. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT OF THE MARRIAGE OF MERCEDES THOMAS AND PAUL HOPKINS PRIOR TO THE MARRIAGE OF DARTHARD TO MERCEDES THOMAS. THE CLAIMANT WITHDREW HER CLAIM FOR BENEFITS BECAUSE SHE BELIEVED THAT HER MARRIAGE TO HOPKINS WAS NOT LEGALLY DISSOLVED. ON THIS RECORD THE MATTER IS TOO DOUBTFUL TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF THE DEATH GRATUITY PAY TO MERCEDES DARTHARD AS DARTHARD'S LEGAL WIDOW.

B-119259, MAY 11, 1954

PRECIS-UNAVAILABLE

COLONEL CLYDE W. O'HERN, USAF, U.S. AIR FORCE:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED BY REFERENCE FROM THE OFFICE, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE, YOUR LETTER OF FEBRUARY 3, 1954, TRANSMITTING A VOUCHER IN FAVOR OF MRS. MERCEDES DARTHARD FOR $525 REPRESENTING SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PAY IN THE CASE OF BASIC AIRMAN COMMODROY E. DARTHARD, SR., AF 14389046 WHO DIED SEPTEMBER 1, 1951. YOU REQUEST DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE AIRMAN MARRIED MERCEDES THOMAS ON FEBRUARY 4, 1948; THAT SHE WAS PREVIOUSLY MARRIED TO ONE PAUL HOPKINS; AND THAT NO EVIDENCE OF DIVORCE AS TO THE LATTER MARRIAGE IS AVAILABLE.

THERE WAS SUBMITTED WITH THE VOUCHER A CERTIFIED COPY OF THE MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE TO SUBSTANTIATE THE MARRIAGE OF DARTHARD TO MERCEDES THOMAS. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF A DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT OF THE MARRIAGE OF MERCEDES THOMAS AND PAUL HOPKINS PRIOR TO THE MARRIAGE OF DARTHARD TO MERCEDES THOMAS. ON THE CONTRARY, IT HAS BEEN REPORTED THAT THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION RECORD IN THIS CASE, FILE XC-15-435 524 DISCLOSES THAT ON MARCH 3, 1953, THE CLAIMANT WITHDREW HER CLAIM FOR BENEFITS BECAUSE SHE BELIEVED THAT HER MARRIAGE TO HOPKINS WAS NOT LEGALLY DISSOLVED. ON THIS RECORD THE MATTER IS TOO DOUBTFUL TO AUTHORIZE PAYMENT OF THE DEATH GRATUITY PAY TO MERCEDES DARTHARD AS DARTHARD'S LEGAL WIDOW.

WHILE THE DECEDENT IS SURVIVED BY AN ILLEGITIMATE SON AND PAYMENT OF THE DEATH GRATUITY PAY MAY BE MADE TO AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES (30 COMP. GEN. 277), NEVERTHELESS SINCE UNDER THE LAW SUCH PAYMENT MAY BE MADE ONLY IF THERE BE NO WIDOW, AND SINCE IT IS NOT ENTIRELY CLEAR THAT THE CLAIMANT MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ESTABLISH THAT SHE IS THE LAWFUL WIDOW, FAVORABLE CONSIDERATION MAY NOT BE GIVEN TO PAYMENT OF GRATUITY TO ANY PERSON STANDING IN LOCO PARENTIS OR IN THE CAPACITY OF LEGAL GUARDIAN OF THE ILLEGITIMATE SON.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO MAKE PAYMENT ON THE VOUCHER, WHICH IS RETAINED IN THIS OFFICE.