TN 29 (05-01)

GN 00305.030 Presumption of Ceremonial Marriage

A. Policy — presumption of ceremonial marriage

When a ceremonial marriage is alleged, accompanied by cohabitation and repute, a presumption arises that there was, in fact, such a marriage. Apply the presumption of ceremonial marriage only when neither preferred nor secondary proof of marriage can be obtained. The presumption cannot be applied when a deemed marriage is involved.

The presumption of ceremonial marriage is strong, especially where supporting evidence shows that the parties have lived together as husband and wife for many years, and it can be rebutted only by convincing evidence to the contrary. The absence of a record in the place where the marriage is alleged to have occurred will not in itself defeat the presumption.

B. Procedure — presumption of ceremonial marriage

1. Development

  1. Explain the failure to get the marriage record;

  2. Develop supporting evidence;

  3. Evaluate all the information;

  4. If the evidence does not show the relationship of husband-wife, get other evidence, which considered together, will reasonably support a finding of marital relationship. (See GN 00305.030B.2.b.); and

  5. Make a determination.

2. Documentation

a. Evidence of a marriage

In addition to getting the information discussed in GN 00305.025B.1., the following evidence may support a presumption of a marriage:

  • Excerpts from naturalization certificates, deeds, immigration records, insurance policies, or passports which indicate the parties as husband and wife;

  • Records which show a marital relationship such as business, employment, bank, fraternal, school, labor, church, or other records;

  • Purchase agreements, contracts, or leases executed by both parties, letters to both parties, or letters from one party to the other indicating a marital relationship.

b. Evidence of a husband-wife relationship

  • Automobile titles made out jointly in the names of the claimant and the worker;

  • Wills naming the other party as a spouse;

  • Any other evidence indicating a spousal relationship.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200305030
GN 00305.030 - Presumption of Ceremonial Marriage - 03/24/2014
Batch run: 03/24/2014
Rev:03/24/2014