B-125534, DEC. 22, 1955

B-125534: Dec 22, 1955

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1230626) IN WHICH YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED ON THE ACCOMPANYING VOUCHER WHICH COVERS THE CLAIM FOR SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PAY UNDER 34 U.S.C. 943. COOK WAS MARRIED TO JOHN P. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THE EARLIER MARRIAGE WAS DISSOLVED BY DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT. NEITHER CAN IT BE SHOWN WITH ANY DEGREE OF CERTAINTY THAT THE MARRIAGE WAS NOT DISSOLVED. WHETHER THE PUTATIVE WIDOW EVER ENTERED INTO A VALID MARRIAGE WITH THE DECEDENT IS. THE CLAIMANT MAY BE PAID AS GUARDIAN OF THE DECEDENT'S MINOR CHILD ONLY IF SHE IS NOT THE DECEDENT'S WIDOW. THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL DOUBT. YOU ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO MAKE PAYMENT ON THE SUBMITTED VOUCHER. IS RETAINED IN THIS OFFICE.

B-125534, DEC. 22, 1955

TO MAJOR J. M. WEIDNER, USMC, DISBURSING OFFICER, THROUGH COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS:

THE COMMANDANT OF THE MARINE CORPS BY FIRST INDORSEMENT DATED SEPTEMBER 13, 1955, HAS REFERRED TO OUR OFFICE YOUR LETTER OF SEPTEMBER 9, 1955 (YOUR REFERENCE CDG-2189-1B, 1230626) IN WHICH YOU REQUEST A DECISION AS TO WHETHER PAYMENT IS AUTHORIZED ON THE ACCOMPANYING VOUCHER WHICH COVERS THE CLAIM FOR SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PAY UNDER 34 U.S.C. 943, MADE BY MRS. GARNET L. COOK AS LEGAL GUARDIAN OF JAMES L. COOK, JR., MINOR SON OF JAMES L. COOK, DECEASED, LATE PRIVATE FIRST CLASS, 1230626, U.S. MARINE CORPS, WHO DIED JULY 26, 1954.

YOU STATE THAT PRIOR TO HER MARRIAGE TO THE DECEDENT, MRS. COOK WAS MARRIED TO JOHN P. COX. THERE IS NO EVIDENCE TO SHOW THAT THE EARLIER MARRIAGE WAS DISSOLVED BY DIVORCE OR ANNULMENT; NEITHER CAN IT BE SHOWN WITH ANY DEGREE OF CERTAINTY THAT THE MARRIAGE WAS NOT DISSOLVED. WHETHER THE PUTATIVE WIDOW EVER ENTERED INTO A VALID MARRIAGE WITH THE DECEDENT IS, THEREFORE, SUBJECT TO QUESTION. THE ATTACHMENTS TO YOUR LETTER SHOW POSITIVELY, HOWEVER, THAT MRS. COOK HAS BEEN APPOINTED GUARDIAN OF THE DECEDENT'S MINOR CHILD BY ORDER OF JOHNSON COUNTY COURT, KENTUCKY.

THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY MUST BE PAID PURSUANT TO 34 U.S.C. 943, TO THE WIDOW OF THE DECEASED MARINE CORPS MEMBER OR, IF THERE BE NO WIDOW, TO THE CHILD OR CHILDREN OF THE DECEDENT. THUS, THE CLAIMANT MAY BE PAID AS GUARDIAN OF THE DECEDENT'S MINOR CHILD ONLY IF SHE IS NOT THE DECEDENT'S WIDOW. IN VIEW OF THE QUESTIONABLE STATUS OF THE CLAIMANT AS WIDOW OF THE DECEDENT, THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL DOUBT, AS TO THE PROPER RECIPIENT OF THE GRATUITY. IN SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES, THE ESTABLISHED RULE REQUIRES THAT PAYMENT BE MADE ONLY UPON A FINAL DETERMINATION BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION OF THE LEGAL STATUS OF GARNET L. COOK AS WIDOW OF THE DECEDENT. 16 COMP. GEN. 798; B 117964, MARCH 2, 1954; B-118554, MARCH 22, 1955; B-119259, MAY 11, 1954.

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