TN 4 (07-06)

PR 02706.027 Mississippi

A. PR 06-280 Foreign Marriage and Name Change Number Holder: Natalee H~

DATE: 07/21/2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Mississppi acknowledges a foreign marriage in Jamaica, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a Jamaican marriage register constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Natalee D~, a legal alien permitted to work in the U.S. and Mississippi resident, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Natalee H~.

ANSWER

Yes, since there is no evidence of fraud or illegal purpose, since the certificate contains biographical information that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, "Changing Numident Name Data," so that there is no need for separate documentation of the old and new names, and since Mrs. H~ has provided her employment authorization card evidencing her new name.

BACKGROUND

The applicant, a legal alien allowed to work in the United States and Mississippi resident, has a SSN card. However, Mrs. H~ did not provide the name that is listed on her SSN card. On May 8, 2006, she applied for a replacement SSN card with the name of Natalie H~. In support of her application, Mrs. H~ supplied her employment authorization card with the last name "H~" on it, her Jamaican passport with that same last name, and her state identification card with her maiden name on it. She also submitted a document entitled "Marriage Register" for a marriage solemnized or performed on March 1, 2005, in Trelawny, Jamaica. A civil registrar, the marriage officer, and two witnesses signed the marriage register; however, we note that the signatures are not wet signatures but are electronic ones. This document indicates that Natalie D~ married Barnill C~ Ronnie H~, when she was twenty six and he was twenty five. The marriage register also reveals that Mrs. H~' father's name is Donald D~ and Mr. H~' father's name is Tennassee V~.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to reflect a legal name change, the applicant generally must document the name change and his or her identity. The name-change document may be either a court order or a marriage document, and should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name-change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8). As evidence of her name change and identification, Mrs. H~ has submitted the above-mentioned evidence.

The first issue is whether Mississippi would recognize the foreign marriage as valid in Mississippi. The United States Supreme Court in Patterson v. Gaines, 47 U.S. 550, 588 (1848) stated that "[i]f the marriage were in a foreign country, proof that it was solemnized in the manner usual in that country would be good presumptive proof that it was a valid marriage." Likewise, Mississippi case law presumes the validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of the marriage. See Walker v. Matthews, 3 So.2d 820 (Miss. 1941)("In general, the law favors marriage and will indulge every reasonable presumption in favor of the validity thereof. . . . If a marriage in fact is established by evidence or admission, it is presumed to be regular and valid, and the burden of adducing evidence to the contrary rests on the party who attacks it, even though it involves the proving of a negative.")(citing several cases). In fact, "the presumption in favor of the validity of a marriage, properly entered into, remains one of the strongest in law." C~, 842 S.W.2d at 834. Moreover, as noted by the Texas Court of Appeals, courts have applied this presumption to foreign marriages. See Chandler v. Chandler, 842 S.W.2d 829, 834 (Tex. Ct. App. 1992); Davis v. Davis, 521 S.W.2d 603, 604-05 (Tex. 1975)(presumption, though subsequently rebutted, applied to a marriage performed in Singapore)(cited in C~, 842 S.W.2d at 834).

However, while Mississippi presumes a marriage is valid, Mississippi law does expressly declare that incestuous and same-sex marriages are invalid even if those type marriages were performed outside of Mississippi. See MISS. CONST. ART. 14, § 263A (prohibiting same-sex marriages); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-1 (T~/W~2006)(providing that incestuous and same-sex marriages are void in the State even if those marriages are deemed valid in other jurisdictions); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-3 (T~/W~ 2006)(stating that any attempts to evade the prohibition-on-incestuous-marriage statute by marrying outside the State and returning to the State shall still be considered as within the general prohibition against incestuous marriages). Mrs. H~' marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Mississippi since we assume that her husband is a male. We also assume that because Mr. and Mrs. H~' fathers have different names and thus presumably are two different people, Mr. and Mrs. H~ were not related by blood or marriage though we do not have any information on Mr. and Mrs. H~' mothers. Based on the cases above which presume marriages are valid, the lack of an express prohibition on foreign marriages, and the fact that Mrs. H~' marriage does not appear to be an incestuous or same-sex marriage, we have no reason to believe that her marriage would not be recognized by Mississippi, provided the documentation of her marriage is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage in this case appears to be adequate under Mississippi law to validate a name change. Mississippi case law provides that "at common law, any person of mature years may voluntarily change his name, without necessity of statute, provided the change was not for fraudulent purpose and does not interfere with the rights of others." Marshall v. Marshall, 93 So.2d 822, 826 (Miss. 1957). In fact, the Marshall court indicated that when the male child in that case reached the age of majority, "there [was] no reason why he can not change his name to anything he desires." Id. at 826. While section 93-17-1 of the Mississippi Code gives the chancery court or the chancellor in vacation, of the county of the residence of the petitioners, the jurisdiction to alter the petitioner's name, that statute is silent on what evidence, if any, is required for a person to be able to change his or her name. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 93-17-1 (T~/W~ 2006). However, the driver's license statute, section 63-1-19, states that before licensees or permittees can change their names on their licenses, they must appear in person at an office of the Department of Public Safety, Driver Services Division and provide a certified copy of their marriage license, court order, birth certificate, or divorce decree changing their names. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 63-1-19(3) (T~/W~ 2006). We presume that based on section 63-1-19, that a certified copy of a marriage register changing the licensee's name to H~ would thus be permissible evidence of a name change at least for driver's license purposes.

In the instant matter, there is no evidence in this case of a fraudulent purpose or evidence that the name change would interfere with the rights of others, or any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage. Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe the state's standard for initial proof of a marriage, when offered solely for the purpose of a name change, would similarly be liberal. We can find no reason that the State of Mississippi would not recognize the Jamaican marriage register as adequate to support a name change since the proffered marriage register is witnessed by two witnesses, the civil registrar and marriage officer and bears Mrs. H~' former name and her husband's full name. Therefore, we believe the marriage register satisfies the requirement for documentation of the change of name. Moreover, there are no prescribed steps to determine the validity of the Jamaican marriage register itself; instead Mississippi simply deems this issue a factual issue which is left within the factfinder's discretion. See generally 2002 Miss. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 2002-0167, 2002 WL 1057916 (Apr. 12, 2002).

The next issue is whether SSA will accept the Jamaican marriage register as evidence of a name change since Mrs. H~ is an alien. According to POMS RM 00203.210(H)(3)(d), if the SSN applicant is an alien and is requesting a legal name change based on a foreign marriage that took place before he/she was last admitted to the U.S. and the name on the current immigration document does not support the name requested on the SSN card, SSA cannot accept the marriage document as evidence of a legal name change. Id. That section prohibits SSA from accepting the foreign marriage as the basis for a legal name change when neither the applicant's foreign passport nor the U.S. immigration document show the new name requested. Instead, SSA must refer the applicant to DHS to get a new immigration document in the requested new legal name. Id. Here, Mrs. H~' marriage took place on March 1, 2005. Her employment authorization card contains her new name and indicates that the card is valid from January 30, 2006, and expires on December 8, 2007. Mrs. H~' foreign passport also contains her old and new names. Because one of these documents has her new name on it, the Jamaican marriage register can be accepted as evidence of a legal name change.

POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires documentation of identity separate from documentation of the name change. In this case, the marriage register does contain biographical data that can be compared to SSA's numident data. Particularly, this document reveals Mrs. H~' age at the time of the marriage, her residence and her father's name. Therefore, Mrs. H~' name change can be processed on the basis of the Jamaican marriage register alone without additional documentation of her identity under POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process Mrs. H~' name change based on the Jamaican marriage register.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: _______________
Arthurice B~
Assistant Regional Counsel

B. PR 06-254 Foreign Marriage Documents as Evidence of Name Change for Purposes of Securing Replacement Social Security Card for a Mississippi Resident

DATE: August 7, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

SSA can process the name change because the State of Mississppi acknowledges a foreign marriage regardless of the country of origin, and the wife is taking the husband's last name.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether documents purporting to be marriage documents from a foreign country can constitute sufficient evidence of a name change for a resident of Mississippi to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) to issue a replacement Social Security card that reflects the name change.

ANSWER

Yes, SSA can process a name change for Mississippi residents based on foreign marriage documents provided the document(s) appear to be properly formalized and SSA has no information that would rebut the presumption that the purported marriage is valid and provided the applicant provides sufficient documentation of identity.

BACKGROUND

The Intelligence Reform Terrorist Provision Act (IRTPA) of 2004 (Pub. L. 108-458), which became effective in December 2005, required changes to the way SSA issues replacement Social Security cards. Some of the changes relate to the documentation required to permit SSA to issue a new card with different name. Recent regulations published to address IRTPA issues clarify that reference to a change of the name on the Social Security card is a "verified legal change(s) to the first name and/or surname." 20 C.F.R. §§ 422.103 and 422.110. The preamble to the regulations explained that SSA added the terms "legal" and "verified" to the parenthetical statement that describes name changes to provide a more precise description of the kind of name change we intended as a basis for a replacement card. See "Social Security Number (SSN) Cards; Limiting Replacement Cards," 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,055 (Jul. 31, 2006). Pursuant to POMS provisions published over the last several months, you have been forwarding numerous requests for opinions about whether Mississippi would accept purported marriage documents from various countries as a basis for permitting a name change. Since, as explained in greater detail below, we have determined that Mississippi would accept foreign marriage documents as a basis for a name change, we are providing this guidance to help you and field office staff process these cases without the need to refer each one for a legal opinion. It is our understanding that once this opinion is published as a precedent, you will only need to refer unusual questions not covered below. Of course, we will be delighted to assist you with those unusual cases as they arise.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN card to show a name change, an applicant generally must document both the name change and his or her identity. The name change document may be either a court order or a marriage document and should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name- change document itself, or on two other identity documents (one showing the prior name and one showing the current name). See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name (or wants to take a new last name that hyphenates both partners' surnames), SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)(1)(a), (c), (D)(8).

The United States Supreme Court in Patterson v. Gaines, 47 U.S. 550, 588 (1848) stated that "[i]f the marriage were in a foreign country, proof that it was solemnized in the manner usual in that country would be good presumptive proof that it was a valid marriage." Likewise, Mississippi case law presumes the validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of the marriage. See Walker v. Matthews, 3 So.2d 820 (Miss. 1941) ("In general, the law favors marriage and will indulge every reasonable presumption in favor of the validity thereof. . . . If a marriage in fact is established by evidence or admission, it is presumed to be regular and valid, and the burden of adducing evidence to the contrary rests on the party who attacks it, even though it involves the proving of a negative") (citations omitted). In fact, "the presumption in favor of the validity of a marriage, properly entered into, remains one of the strongest in law." Chandler v. Chandler, 842 S.W.2d 829, 834 (Tex. Ct. App. 1992). Moreover, Texas courts have applied this presumption to foreign marriages. See id.; Davis v. Davis, 521 S.W.2d 603, 604-05 (Tex. 1975) (presumption, though subsequently rebutted, applied to a marriage performed in Singapore), cited in C~, 842 S.W.2d at 834. We found no statute or case law that would indicate Mississippi would treat foreign marriage documents differently based on the country of origin.

However, while Mississippi presumes a marriage is valid, Mississippi law does expressly declare that incestuous and same-sex marriages are invalid even if those type marriages were performed outside of Mississippi. See MISS. CONST. ART. 14, § 263A (prohibiting same-sex marriages); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-1 (West 2006) (providing that incestuous and same-sex marriages are void in the State even if those marriages are deemed valid in other jurisdictions); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-3 (West 2006) (stating that any attempts to evade the prohibition-on-incestuous-marriage statute by marrying outside the State and returning to the State shall still be considered as within the general prohibition against incestuous marriages).

Marriage documents from a foreign country appear to be adequate under Mississippi law to validate a name change. Mississippi case law provides that "at common law, any person of mature years may voluntarily change his name, without necessity of statute, provided the change was not for fraudulent purpose and does not interfere with the rights of others." Marshall v. Marshall, 93 So.2d 822, 826 (Miss. 1957). In fact, the M~ court indicated that when the male child in that case reached the age of majority, "there [was] no reason why he can not change his name to anything he desires." Id. at 826. While section 93-17-1 of the Mississippi Code gives the chancery court or the chancellor in vacation, of the county of the residence of the petitioners, the jurisdiction to alter the petitioner's name, that statute is silent on what evidence, if any, is required for a person to be able to change his or her name. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 93-17-1 (West 2006). However, the driver's license statute, section 63-1-19, states that before licensees or permittees can change their names on their licenses, they must appear in person at an office of the Department of Public Safety, Driver Services Division and provide a certified copy of their marriage license, court order, birth certificate, or divorce decree changing their names. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 63-1-19(3) (West 2006). Although section 63-1-19 addresses only name changes on a driver's license, we believe marriage documents that appear to be properly formalized would be adequate evidence for name changes in other contexts.

Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe the state's standard for initial proof of a marriage, when offered solely for the purpose of a name change, would similarly be liberal. Where there is no evidence of a fraudulent purpose or evidence that the name change would interfere with the rights of others, or any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage, we can find no reason that the State of Mississippi would not recognize marriage documents as adequate to support a name change. Therefore, we believe foreign marriage documents satisfy the requirement for documentation of a name change.

There are a number of scenarios to consider when considering POMS application to a name change request based on foreign marriage documentation. In addition to the marriage document, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) also requires biographical information that can be compared to the applicant's numident data. If the marriage event occurred within the last two years, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the marriage document contain either a photograph of the person or biographical information (information on age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared to the NH's numident data. If the marriage document indicates that the marriage occurred within the last two years and contains sufficient biographical data to compare to the numident data, SSA can process the name change. However, if the marriage event occurred over two years ago or the marriage document does not contain sufficient biographical information, POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1) requires that the applicant provide two identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name in accordance with the list of appropriate identifying documentation found in POMS RM 00203.200(e). Therefore, in this scenario, the name change cannot be processed on the basis of the marriage document(s) alone, but can be processed if the NH produces the other identifying documents that comply with POMS. Please note, if an applicant for name change is not an United States citizen, please follow the procedures listed in POMS RM 00203.210(C) and POMS RM 00203.200(H)(2)(d).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change based on a foreign marriage document(s) provided the applicant's name change request complies with the law of South Carolina and the request is processed consistent with POMS.

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: _______________
Arthurice B~
Assistant Regional Counsel

C. PR 06-194 Thai (City of Chiang Mai) marriage certificate as evidence of name change for purposes of securing replacement Social Security card for a North Carolina resident - Lisa R. T~

DATE: July 13, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

With proof that a marriage is solemnized in the manner usual to that country (e.g., a marriage certificate), the State of Mississippi would recognize a marriage in Jamaica, a foreign country, provided that it is not an incestuous or same-sex marriage. Incestuous or same-sex marriages are expressly prohibited in Mississippi.

The documentation of the marriage, or the Jamaica “Certified Copy of Marriage Register,” appears adequate under Mississippi law to validate a name change; however, the document does not contain a photograph or biographical data that can be compared to SSA's Numident record. Per RM 10205.185, an applicant must therefore submit two additional identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name. The document must also meet the standards prescribed in GN 00301.030.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a Thai (City of Chiang Mai) marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Lisa R~, resident of North Carolina, could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Lisa R. T~.

ANSWER

Yes, provided Ms. T~ (Applicant) also furnishes other valid evidence of identity that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, “Changing Numident Name Data.”

BACKGROUND

Applicant, a U.S. citizen, holds an SSN card in the name of Lisa H. R~, her birth name and the name reflected in SSA's numident. Applicant supplied documents that appear to be a certified copy of the marriage certificate with an English translation for a marriage registered on November 6, 2004 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The certificate is signed by the registrar of Chiang Mai. The document indicates that Ms. R~ married Anthony T~.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to show a name change, an applicant generally must document both the name change and his or her identity. The name change document may be either a court order or a marriage document and should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name- change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00202.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00202.210(D)(8).

A marriage valid under the law of a foreign nation will be recognized as such in North Carolina. See Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 144 (1895); Loyd v. Loyd, 18 S.E. 2d 200, 201 (N.C. 1893). Ms. T~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in North Carolina, such as a same-sex marriage. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 51-1-2 (2006). Therefore, we have no reason to believe that this marriage would not be recognized by North Carolina, provided the documentation is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage appears to be adequate under North Carolina law to validate a name change. North Carolina strongly supports an individual's right to control her or his own name, and applies this principle to evidentiary matters that are uncontested. North Carolina is a common law state and common law provides that a person can adopt another name at will, absent a fraudulent or illegal purpose. In re M~, 216 S.E. 2d 147, 150 (N.C. 1975). North Carolina does provide a judicial means by which to change one's name. N.C. Gen. Stat §101-2; however, this procedure does not abrogate the common law. In re M~, 216 S.E. 2d at 150. In keeping with the common law tradition, in North Carolina a person may adopt a name other than his or her own as long as no fraudulent or illegal purpose is involved. Id. Furthermore, North Carolina evidentiary rules presume validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of marriage. L~, 18 S.E. 2d at 201; Parker v. Parker, 265 S.E. 2d 237, 239 (N.C. 1980) (marriage in foreign state presumed valid and party attacking validity of marriage has the burden of proof); State v. Schlachter, 61 N.C. 520 (N.C. Sup. Ct. 1868).

There is no evidence in this case of fraud or improper purpose, or any evidence to overcome the presumption of the validity of the marriage. Given the liberal state standard for justifying a name change, we believe the state's standard for initial proof of a marriage, when offered solely for the purpose of a name change, would similarly be liberal. In other contexts, a name change in North Carolina is easily effectuated. To change one's name on his or her voter registration card or an identification card, one merely needs to notify the county board of elections the state of the new name. N.C. Gen. Stat. § §163-82.16; 20-37.9. To change one's name on a driver's license, the Division of Motor Vehicles states that one must provide a Social Security Card with the new name and a marriage certificate, or other name-change document. North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles, Driver Handbook, Ch. 1 (2006). The State Attorney General's Office has opined, however, that the Division of Motor Vehicles cannot specifically limit the types of documentation that can be used for a name change. Attorney General Opinion to William S. H~, Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, 58 N.C.A.G. 4 (1988). This opinion reflects North Carolina's liberal view concerning name changes. We can find no reason that the state of North Carolina would not recognize the Thai marriage certificate as adequate to support a name change. Therefore, we believe the marriage certificate satisfies the requirement for documentation of the change of name.

POMS RM 00202.210(A)(1) also requires documentation of identity separate from documentation of the name change. In this case, the marriage certificate does not contain a picture, description, or biographical data that can be compared to SSA's numident data. In such a case, the applicant must provide two identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name. See POMS RM 00202.210(A)(1). The old name would be Lisa H. R~, her pre-marriage name according to SSA's numident data and the marriage certificate. Therefore, the name change cannot be processed on the basis of the Thai marriage certificate alone, but can be processed if Ms. T~ produces the other identifying documents.

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, we believe SSA can process the name change, provided Ms. T~ also furnishes other valid evidence of identity that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, "Changing Numident Name Data."

Mary A. S~
Regional Chief Counsel
By: _______________
Laurie G. R~
Assistant Regional Counsel

D. PR 06-193 Foreign Marriage and Name Change Number Holder: Nikki L. C~

DATE: July 14, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

With proof that a marriage is solemnized in the manner usual to that country (e.g., a marriage certificate), the State of Mississippi would recognize a marriage in Jamaica, a foreign country, provided that it is not an incestuous or same-sex marriage. Incestuous or same-sex marriages are expressly prohibited in Mississippi.

The documentation of the marriage, or the Jamaica "Certified Copy of Marriage Register," appears adequate under Mississippi law to validate a name change; however, the document does not contain a photograph or biographical data that can be compared to SSA's Numident record. Per RM 10205.185, an applicant must therefore submit two additional identifying documents, one with the old name and one with the new name. The document must also meet the standards prescribed in GN 00301.030.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You asked whether a document appearing to be a Jamaican marriage certificate constituted valid evidence of a name change, such that the former Nikki L. G~ could be issued a new Social Security card with the name Nikki L. C~.

ANSWER

Yes, provided Mrs. C~ also furnishes other valid evidence of identity that satisfies POMS RM 10205.185, "Changing Numident Name Data."

FACTS

The applicant, a U.S. citizen and resident of Mississippi, holds an SSN card in the name of Nikki L. G~, her birth name. On June 19, 2006, she applied for a replacement SSN card with the name of Nikki L. C~. In support of her application, Mrs. C~ supplied her Mississippi driver's license, which still has her last name as "G~" and includes two photographs of her, her address, birth date, gender, weight, and height. She also submitted a document entitled "Certified Copy of Marriage Register" for a marriage solemnized or performed on June 6, 2006, in Sandals Ocho Rios, Jamaica. The marriage license, which includes signatures by a civil registrar and two witnesses, indicates that Nikki L. G~ married Brian W. C~, who was divorced, when she was thirty five and he was thirty three. The marriage license also reveals that Mrs. C~'s father's name is either Barry or Garry G~ (the name is unintelligible) and Mr. C~'s father's name is Jewel C~.

DISCUSSION

When applying for a replacement SSN to reflect a legal name change, the applicant generally must document the name change and his or her identity. The name-change document may be either a court order or a marriage document, and should identify the applicant by both the old and new names. In addition, the applicant must submit documentation showing a description or photograph, or biographical information that can be compared to SSA's number holder identification data. The description, photograph, or biographical data may be either on the name-change document itself, or on two other identity documents. See POMS RM 00203.210(A)(1). If the state where the applicant resides would acknowledge the foreign marriage, and the wife is taking the husband's last name, SSA can process the name change request. See POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8). As evidence of her name change, Mrs. C~ has submitted the above-mentioned marriage license from Jamaica and her driver's license apparently for identification purposes.

The first issue is whether Mississippi would recognize the foreign marriage as valid in Mississippi. The United States Supreme Court in Patterson v. Gaines, 47 U.S. 550, 588 (1848) stated that "[i]f the marriage were in a foreign country, proof that it was solemnized in the manner usual in that country would be good presumptive proof that it was a valid marriage." Likewise, Mississippi case law presumes the validity of marriage and will shift the burden of proof to those contesting the validity of the marriage. See Walker v. Matthews, 3 So.2d 820 (Miss. 1941)("In general, the law favors marriage and will indulge every reasonable presumption in favor of the validity thereof. . . . If a marriage in fact is established by evidence or admission, it is presumed to be regular and valid, and the burden of adducing evidence to the contrary rests on the party who attacks it, even though it involves the proving of a negative.")(citing several cases). In fact, "the presumption in favor of the validity of a marriage, properly entered into, remains one of the strongest in law." C~, 842 S.W.2d at 834. Moreover, as noted by the Texas Court of Appeals, courts have applied this presumption to foreign marriages. See Chandler v. Chandler, 842 S.W.2d 829, 834 (Tex. Ct. App. 1992); Davis v. Davis, 521 S.W.2d 603, 604-05 (Tex. 1975)(presumption, though subsequently rebutted, applied to a marriage performed in Singapore)(cited in C~, 842 S.W.2d at 834).

However, while Mississippi presumes a marriage is valid, Mississippi law does expressly declare that incestuous and same-sex marriages are invalid even if those type marriages were performed outside of Mississippi. See MISS. CONST. ART. 14, § 263A (prohibiting same-sex marriages); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-1 (T~/W~ 2006)(providing that incestuous and same-sex marriages are void in the State even if those marriages are deemed valid in other jurisdictions); MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-3 (T~/W~ 2006)(stating that any attempts to evade the prohibition-on-incestuous-marriage statute by marrying outside the State and returning to the State shall still be considered as within the general prohibition against incestuous marriages). Mrs. C~'s marriage does not appear to be a type expressly prohibited in Mississippi since we assume that her husband is a male. We also assume that because Mr. and Mrs. C~'s fathers have different names and thus presumably are two different people, Mr. and Mrs. C~ were not related by blood or marriage though we do not have any information on Mr. and Mrs. C~'s mothers. Based on the cases above which presume marriages are valid, the lack of an express prohibition on foreign marriages, and the fact that Mrs. C~'s marriage does not appear to be an incestuous or same-sex marriage, we have no reason to believe that her marriage would not be recognized by Mississippi, provided the documentation of her marriage is adequate.

The documentation of the marriage in this case appears to be adequate under Mississippi law to validate a name change. Mississippi case law provides that "at common law, any person of mature years may voluntarily change his name, without necessity of statute, provided the change was not for fraudulent purpose and does not interfere with the rights of others." Marshall v. Marshall, 93 So.2d 822, 826 (Miss. 1957). In fact, the M~ court indicated that when the male child in that case reached the age of majority, "there [was] no reason why he can not change his name to anything he desires." Id. at 826. While section 93-17-1 of the Mississippi Code gives the chancery court or the chancellor in vacation, of the county of the residence of the petitioners, the jurisdiction to alter the petitioner's name, that statute is silent on what evidence, if any, is required for a person to be able to change his or her name. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 93-17-1 (T~/W~ 2006). However, the driver's license statute, section 63-1-19, states that before licensees or permittees can change their names on their licenses, they must appear in person at an office of the Department of Public Safety, Driver Services Division and provide a certified copy of their marriage license, court order, birth certificate, or divorce decree changing their names. See MISS. CODE. ANN. § 63-1-19(3) (T~/W~ 2006). We presume that based on section 63-1-19, that a certified copy of a marriage certificate changing the licensee's name to C~ would thus be permissible evidence of a name change at least for driver's license purposes.

The final issues are how SSA determines whether the contents of the marriage license here are valid and whether the certified marriage license here is itself a valid document. In a similar vein, the Mississippi Attorney General stated proffered documents issued by a foreign government should not have any affect on an applicant's ability to secure a marriage license under the Mississippi marriage license statute, see MISS. CODE ANN. § 93-1-5 (T~/W~ 2006. See 2002 Miss. Op. Att'y Gen., No. 2002-0167, 2002 WL 1057916 (Apr. 12, 2002). Additionally, the State Attorney General indicated that whether a particular document substantiates an applicant's age and date of birth under section 93-1-5 is a question of fact, and the circuit clerk must examine documentation of the applicant's age and date of birth and must then make a factual determination that the document does substantiate the applicant's age and date of birth before a license may be lawfully issued. I