B-165751(1), APR 9, 1971

B-165751(1): Apr 9, 1971

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RODMAN AFTER HIS DIVORCE FROM SUSIE RODMAN WITHIN THE SIX-MONTHS WAITING PERIOD ORDERED BY THE COURT GRANTING THE DIVORCE WAS VALID. WAS NOT DECIDED IN A SUIT AGAINST THE SECOND WIFE AND WAS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE BY THE COURT. ANY AGREEMENT OF CLAIMANT AND SECOND WIFE TO DIVIDE THE GRATUITY IS A PERSONAL MATTER AND WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED BY THE COMP. OUR RECORDS SHOW THAT THE SERVICEMAN'S HOME OF RECORD WAS IN KANSAS. THAT YOU WERE GRANTED A DIVORCE FROM HIM IN OKLAHOMA BY A DECREE DATED JUNE 27. THE PURPOSE OF WHICH WAS TO TEST THE VALIDITY OF THE MARRIAGE ENTERED INTO BY MRS. ADVISED US THAT THE SUIT WAS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE IN VIEW OF AN AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BY YOU AND MRS. THERE WAS NO JUDICIAL DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER MRS.

B-165751(1), APR 9, 1971

MILITARY PERSONNEL - DEATH GRATUITY - SURVIVING SPOUSE - DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE DENYING CLAIM OF MRS. SUSIE J. RODMAN, AS CUSTODIAN OF THREE MINOR CHILDREN FOR A ONE-HALF SHARE OF THE SIX-MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY DUE INCIDENT TO THE DEATH OF HER FORMER HUSBAND MASTER SGT. GEORGE E. RODMAN WHO DIED IN THAILAND. THE ISSUE OF WHETHER THE REMARRIAGE OF SGT. RODMAN AFTER HIS DIVORCE FROM SUSIE RODMAN WITHIN THE SIX-MONTHS WAITING PERIOD ORDERED BY THE COURT GRANTING THE DIVORCE WAS VALID, WAS NOT DECIDED IN A SUIT AGAINST THE SECOND WIFE AND WAS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE BY THE COURT; THEREFORE, ANY AGREEMENT OF CLAIMANT AND SECOND WIFE TO DIVIDE THE GRATUITY IS A PERSONAL MATTER AND WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED BY THE COMP. GEN. AS A BASIS FOR SETTLEMENT.

TO MRS. SUSIE J. RODMAN:

WE AGAIN REFER TO YOUR LETTER OF JANUARY 15, 1971, RELATIVE TO YOUR CLAIM AS CUSTODIAN OF THE THREE MINOR CHILDREN, AND THE CLAIM OF MRS. FUJIE RODMAN, AS SURVIVING SPOUSE, FOR THE SIX-MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY IN THE CASE OF THE LATE MASTER SERGEANT GEORGE E. RODMAN WHO DIED IN THAILAND ON MAY 23, 1968, WHILE SERVING IN THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE.

OUR RECORDS SHOW THAT THE SERVICEMAN'S HOME OF RECORD WAS IN KANSAS; THAT YOU WERE GRANTED A DIVORCE FROM HIM IN OKLAHOMA BY A DECREE DATED JUNE 27, 1967, WHICH PROHIBITED REMARRIAGE OF EITHER PARTY FOR A PERIOD OF SIX MONTHS, AND THAT IN OKINAWA ON AUGUST 31, 1967, LESS THAN THREE MONTHS AFTER THE DIVORCE HE MARRIED FUJIE MIYAZATO, A NATIVE OF OKINAWA, WITHOUT ADVISING OKINAWA AUTHORITIES OF HIS DIVORCE OR OF THE PROHIBITION AGAINST REMARRIAGE WITHIN THE SIX-MONTH PERIOD.

UPON CONSIDERATION OF THOSE CLAIMS, BY OFFICE LETTERS OF APRIL 29 AND APRIL 25, 1969, WE ADVISED YOU AND MRS. FUJIE RODMAN THAT IT HAD COME TO OUR ATTENTION THAT YOU HAD INSTITUTED A SUIT IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, ON BEHALF OF YOUR MINOR CHILDREN AGAINST THE PRUDENTIAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF AMERICA, THE AUTHORIZED INSURANCE CARRIER FOR THE SERVICEMEN'S GROUP LIFE INSURANCE PROGRAM FOR THE MEMBER'S INSURANCE, THE PURPOSE OF WHICH WAS TO TEST THE VALIDITY OF THE MARRIAGE ENTERED INTO BY MRS. FUJIE RODMAN AND THE MEMBER ON AUGUST 31, 1967. SAID THAT PAYMENT OF THE SIX-MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY WOULD BE MADE ON THE BASIS OF THE FINAL JUDMENT IN THAT CASE UPON RECEIPT OF A PROPERLY AUTHENTICATED COPY OF THE COURT'S DECISION.

BY LETTER OF FEBRUARY 26, 1970, THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, HEADQUARTERS 824TH COMBAT SUPPORT GROUP, APO SAN FRANCISCO 96239, ADVISED US THAT THE SUIT WAS DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE IN VIEW OF AN AGREEMENT ENTERED INTO BY YOU AND MRS. RODMAN AS TO THE DISPOSITION TO BE MADE OF THE DECEDENT'S INSURANCE. THUS, THERE WAS NO JUDICIAL DETERMINATION AS TO WHETHER MRS. FUJIE RODMAN IS THE LAWFUL WIDOW OF THE SERVICEMAN. ALSO, WE WERE INFORMALLY ADVISED THAT AFTER DISMISSAL OF THE SUIT THE INSURANCE COMPANY MADE SETTLEMENT BY PAYING VARIOUS AMOUNTS TO MRS. FUJIE RODMAN, TO YOU ON BEHALF OF THE SERVICEMAN'S MINOR CHILDREN, AND TO HIS PARENTS FOR PAYMENT OF HIS DEBTS.

BY OFFICE LETTER OF APRIL 23, 1970, WE INFORMED THE AIR FORCE THAT WE HAD NOT BEEN ADVISED OF THE VALIDITY OF THE SERVICEMAN'S MARRIAGE TO MRS. FUJIE RODMAN OR OF YOUR STATUS IN THE MATTER AS DETERMINED BY A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION, AND THAT PAYMENT COULD NOT BE MADE IN THE ABSENCE OF A DETERMINATION BY SUCH A COURT.

IN YOUR PRESENT LETTER YOU REFER TO OUR LETTER TO THE AIR FORCE. YOU SAY THAT YOU AND MRS. FUJIE RODMAN HAVE AGREED TO DIVIDE THE SIX MONTHS' DEATH GRATUITY PAYMENT EQUALLY - ONE-HALF TO MRS. FUJIE RODMAN AND ONE-HALF TO YOU AS GUARDIAN OF THE DECEDENT'S CHILDREN. YOU ASK WHETHER YOU AND SHE CAN BY STIPULATION AND SIGNED AGREEMENT OBTAIN PAYMENT ON THAT BASIS WITHOUT THE EXPENSE OF A COURT DECREE. YOUR LETTER IS ACCOMPANIED BY A COPY OF A LETTER FROM MRS. FUJIE RODMAN TO YOU IN WHICH SHE ALSO REFERS TO OUR LETTER TO THE AIR FORCE AND EXPRESSES A WILLINGNESS TO ENTER INTO AN AGREEMENT TO SHARE THE GRATUITY WITH YOUR CHILDREN IF YOU OBTAIN A COURT- APPROVED WAIVER TO ANY CLAIM TO THE GRATUITY BY YOU AND THE CHILDREN.

THE LAW AUTHORIZING THE PAYMENT OF A DEATH GRATUITY IN THE CASE OF A MEMBER OF THE ARMED FORCES WHO DIES WHILE ON ACTIVE DUTY PROVIDES THAT SUCH GRATUITY SHALL BE PAID TO THE LIVING SURVIVOR HIGHEST ON THE LIST SET FORTH CHILDREN ARE SECOND ON THE LIST. THUS, WHERE THERE IS A SURVIVING SPOUSE IN 10 U.S.C. 1477. THE HIGHEST ON THAT LIST IS THE "SURVIVING SPOUSE." PAYMENT OF THE GRATUITY MAY NOT BE MADE TO THE CHILDREN.

APPARENTLY, NO COURT ACTION WAS INSTITUTED DURING THE LIFETIME OF SERGEANT RODMAN TO QUESTION THE VALIDITY OF HIS MARRIAGE TO FUJIE OR HAVE THAT MARRIAGE DECLARED VOID. SINCE YOU ARE NOT THE SURVIVING SPOUSE OF THE LATE SERGEANT RODMAN, HAVING OBTAINED A DIVORCE FROM HIM IN 1967, AND SINCE YOUR SUIT ON BEHALF OF HIS CHILDREN TO HAVE HIS MARRIAGE TO MRS. FUJIE RODMAN DECLARED INVALID WAS DISMISSED BY THE COURT WITH PREJUDICE, IT IS CONCLUDED THAT THERE IS NO LONGER A SUFFICIENT BASIS FOR US TO QUESTION HER RIGHT TO THE DEATH GRATUITY AS THE SURVIVING SPOUSE. THEREFORE, ANY AGREEMENT FOR PAYMENT OF ONE-HALF OF THE AMOUNT TO YOU FOR YOUR CHILDREN IS A PERSONAL MATTER BETWEEN YOU AND HER AND MAY NOT BE ACCEPTED BY THIS OFFICE AS A BASIS FOR SETTLEMENT. ACCORDINGLY, YOUR CLAIM IS DISALLOWED AND SETTLEMENT WILL ISSUE IN FAVOR OF MRS. FUJIE RODMAN UPON RECEIPT OF INFORMATION AS TO HER PRESENT NAME AND ADDRESS.

A COPY OF THIS LETTER IS BEING SENT TO MRS. FUJIE RODMAN, WHO WE UNDERSTAND HAS REMARRIED AND INTENDS TO IMMIGRATE TO THE UNITED STATES.