TN 29 (05-01)

GN 00305.160 How to Use the Summary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage

A. Introduction -- how to use the summary of state laws on divorce and remarriage

Before referring to the Summary in GN 00305.165, determine the following facts:

  • the State in which the divorce was granted;

  • the date the divorce became final;

  • the date the remarriage took place;

  • the State in which the remarriage took place; and,

  • the State of the worker's domicile at the time of his/her death, or if living, when an application for auxiliary benefits on the E/R is filed.

B. Policy -- where to look for information in the summary

1. General Policy

In most cases the facts in GN 00305.160A. will enable you to determine the validity of a particular remarriage by referring only to the section in the Summary covering the State where the divorce took place. The entry for each State describes any provision in the State's divorce laws which delay the dissolution of a marriage after a judgment of divorce and any restrictions against remarriage imposed upon the parties after the judgment of divorce.

The validity of a marriage entered into before the marriage ties are dissolved, or entered into in violation of a restriction against remarriage, is given from the point of view of:

  • the State of divorce when the remarriage was entered into within the same State;

  • the State of divorce when the marriage was entered into in another State; and,

  • the State outside the State of divorce when the remarriage was entered into outside the State of divorce.

2. Uniform Marriage Evasion Act

It may be necessary to look elsewhere in addition to the entry for the State of divorce if the remarriage was contracted in one of the five States which have adopted the Uniform Marriage Evasion Act. See GN 00305.155 for the list of States that have adopted this Act. Whenever the validity of the marriage would be affected by the fact that it was contracted in a State which has adopted the Uniform Marriage Evasion Act, there is a notation in the entry for the State of divorce which indicates that a remarriage, although valid if contracted in other States outside the State of divorce, would be held to be void if entered into in one of these five States.

C. Glossary -- how to use the summary of state laws on divorce and remarriage

1. Entry

The inclusion of the judgment of the court in the public records. The statutes of some States require that the decree of divorce be entered within a specified length of time after the hearing or trial, while in other States there are provisions that no decree shall be entered until a specified length of time after the suit for divorce is filed. The usual procedure in a divorce action is for the court to announce its judgment (or the jury in its verdict), then for the counsel to draft a decree and file it with the clerk who has authority to "enter" the judgment. The decree is ordinarily dated as of the time of actual filing with the clerk. In some jurisdictions, however, it is the practice to enter all judgments and decrees on the last day of the term of court.

2. Interlocutory Decree

An intermediate decree which becomes final only after a specified period; in some States additional action is required of the parties or the court to make these decrees final. An interlocutory decree does not finally dissolve the marriage.

3. Decree Nisi

An interlocutory decree.

4. Divorce a Vinculo Matrimonii

A divorce from the bond of marriage. A total divorce of husband and wife, dissolving the marriage tie, and releasing the parties wholly from their matrimonial obligations.

5. Divorce a Mensa Et Thoro

A divorce from table and bed, or from bed and board. A partial or qualified divorce, by which the parties are separated and forbidden to live or cohabit together, without affecting the marriage itself.

6. Nunc Pro Tunc

Now for then. A phrase applied to recordation of an act allowed to be made after the time when the act was actually done, with a retroactive effect, i.e., with the same effect as if noted when the act was done.

7. Final Decree

A decree which completely dissolves a marriage and restores the parties to the status of single persons. A final decree is issued immediately upon judgment in some instances and in others it follows an interlocutory decree or decree nisi. A final (or absolute) decree is effective at the time it is entered unless the law of the State provides for it to be effective upon the rendering of the judgment, with the entry merely a routine clerical procedure following judgment.

8. Absolute

Final. (Used with reference to a decree or the type of divorce).

9. Plaintiff

The person who files the suit requesting the divorce.

10. Complainant

Same as plaintiff.

11. Libelant

Same as plaintiff.

12. Petitioner

Same as plaintiff.

13. Defendant

The spouse against whom a suit for divorce is brought.

14. Libelee

Same as defendant.

15. Respondent

Same as defendant.

16. Guilty Party

The party to a divorce who has been found guilty of the charges made by the other spouse in the divorce proceeding; usually a party found guilty of adultery.

17. Void Marriage

Legally nonexistent from the beginning. The parties to a void marriage are considered never to have been husband and wife.

18. Voidable Marriage

A marriage which is capable of being adjudged void, but which is considered to be valid unless and until declared void as a result of a court action on its validity.

D. Procedure -- how to use the summary of state laws on divorce and remarriage

1. Removal of Impediment

If you determine that a remarriage is void under applicable State law, do not overlook that in certain States the remarriage may have arisen after the removal of an impediment, especially where one party to the remarriage acted in good faith.

2. Legal Opinion Needed

If the marital status of a claimant under the applicable State law cannot be determined from the Summary in GN 00305.165, follow the procedures in GN 01010.800 ff. for possible submittal to the RCC.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0200305160
GN 00305.160 - How to Use the Summary of State Laws on Divorce and Remarriage - 04/17/2015
Batch run: 04/17/2015
Rev:04/17/2015