Entitlement to Survivor Benefits of Deceased Military Member

B-194457: May 9, 1979

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A divorced wife claimed entitlement to an annuity as a surviving spouse since she and her divorced husband lived together under common-law remarriage prior to his death. The Navy contended that the claimant was not a surviving spouse and requested an advance decision on the matter. The parties were divorced on November 6, 1975, and from that date until his death on November 21, 1975, the wife alleged that she and her ex-husband lived as husband and wife under the common law of Colorado. Examination of the record presenting the existence of a common-law remarriage did not show that payment was warranted. The wife referred to herself as an ex-wife on Navy forms, and the deceased husband kept a separate residence. The divorce was granted only 2 weeks before the death of the husband, making it difficult to establish the status of the marriage in the community. Because of various other inconsistencies in the record presented by the claimant, it was held that the existence of the alleged common-law marriage appeared to be too doubtful for authorization of payment.