TN 17 (07-18)

RS 00203.020 When a Child Who Has Been Married May Be Considered “Unmarried”

A. Marriage definitions for initial entitlement

1. Definition of unmarried

A child who has been married is considered unmarried at the time of filing an application for initial entitlement to child’s benefits if:

  • at that time, the marriage has been terminated by annulment, divorce, or death (see GN 00305.120); or

  • the marriage was void; including putative marriages in all states except Louisiana (see GN 00305.125 and GN 00305.085).

NOTE: For information on how marriage affects re-entitlement, see RS 00203.015B.1.

2. Definition of void and putative marriages

a. Void marriage

A void marriage is a marriage that is legally nonexistent from the beginning under State law. The parties to a void marriage are considered never to have been validly married. For more information on void marriages, see GN 00305.125.

b. Putative marriage

The essential basis of a putative marriage is a good faith belief in the existence of a valid marriage at its inception and:

  • in a life case, continuous good faith belief; or

  • in a death case, good faith belief until the number holder dies.

If the child's marriage was a putative marriage in Louisiana, there can be no entitlement for months before the termination of the putative relationship by acquisition of knowledge of the defect in the marriage. For an explanation of Louisiana law, see GN 00305.085F.

A putative marriage in any other State that recognizes such marriages does not bar entitlement to child's insurance benefits.

For more information on putative marriage, see GN 00305.085.

B. Retroactive entitlement when child is considered “unmarried"

Where a child is considered “unmarried” because the marriage has been dissolved, the child cannot become entitled to benefits for months in the retroactive period before the marriage was terminated.

C. Proof of marriage termination

1. Termination by annulment, divorce, or death

We require proof of the termination of the child’s marriage by annulment, divorce, or death. For more information on evidence of annulment and divorce, see GN 00305.140B. For more information on evidence of death, see GN 00304.005.

2. Void Marriage

Generally, a void marriage requires no formality to terminate. However, in some states, under certain circumstances, a court may issue an order affirming that a marriage is void, e.g., an annulment decree. For procedure on determining whether a marriage is void, see GN 00305.125C.


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RS 00203.020 - When a Child Who Has Been Married May Be Considered “Unmarried” - 07/09/2018
Batch run: 07/09/2018
Rev:07/09/2018