TN 9 (09-06)

PR 02706.031 Nevada

A. PR 06-300 Validity of British Columbia Marriage Under Nevada Law, Request for Name Change by Number Holder Amanda E~ SSN: ~

DATE: September 5, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

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

2. OPINION

You have asked whether the State of Nevada would recognize as valid a marriage that took place in British Columbia, Canada. You have further asked, assuming a valid marriage, if the marriage document issued by British Columbia is sufficient evidence of a legal name change for Agency purposes.

BACKGROUND

SSA's Numident records indicate that the number holder (NH) Amanda F.~ E~ was born on February 12, 1982 in Hudson, New York to Denise M. R~ and Benjamin M. E~, and is a United States citizen.

The NH completed and signed an Application for Replacement Social Security Number Card, requesting a name change from Amanda E~ to Amanda E~ H~. In support of her application, she submitted a Nevada driver's license, issued on January 20, 2004. She also provided a Marriage Certificate issued by the Vital Statistics Agency, British Columbia showing that Amanda F.~ E~ married Byron C.~ H~ in North Vancouver, British Columbia on June 12, 2006. The Marriage Certificate indicates that the groom, Byron C.~ H~ was born on July 14, 1975, and that the bride, Amanda E~ H~ was born on February 12, 1982. The marriage was registered with registration number ~, on June 21, 2006.

ANALYSIS

An individual may request a replacement Social Security card bearing the same number and a new legal name. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(e) (as amended in 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,056 (July 31, 2006)). The applicant must submit one or more documents identifying him or herself by both the old name (as shown on the latest Numident record) and the new name. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210. Additionally, the identity document(s) must show information that can be compared to the Numident data (e.g., age, date of birth, parents' names). Id. (citing POMS RM 00203.210F).

Where the applicant is a U.S. resident and is requesting a replacement Social Security card based on a foreign marriage, SSA must determine whether the state where the applicant resides recognizes the foreign marriage. POMS RM 00203.200(H)(3)(d); RM 00203.210(B)(1)(d); POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8); see also Memorandum from OGC's Office of Program Law to Office of Disability Income Security Programs, Name Change Involving Foreign Marriage (March 8, 2006). If the state of residence recognizes the marriage, SSA will assume that the state applies its own law for a legal name change in foreign marriages also. Id.; cf. Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel to Office of Program Law, Legal Name Changes - REPLY (January 30, 2006). Here, the NH resides in Nevada. Thus, we will discuss whether Nevada law would recognize as valid the British Columbia marriage between the NH and Byron C.~ H~.

Nevada Marriage Law

No Nevada statute or case law specifically addresses the validity of a foreign marriage. According to American jurisprudence, however, "[t]he general rule is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where it is contracted, or celebrated. Thus, a marriage which is valid under the law of the state or country in which it is contracted will generally be recognized as valid." See 52 Am. Jur. 2d Marriage § 63 (2005).

Moreover, the Supreme Court of Nevada has affirmed the strong public policy favoring marriage, noting with favor:

Public Policy as to Marriage -- In view of the importance of marriage as a social institution, and the benefits accruing therefrom, it is favored by public policy and the law. It follows that a marriage will, if possible, be upheld as valid and that its validity will be presumed unless disproved. A statute will not be construed to make a marriage void unless the legislative intent to such effect is clear and unequivocal.

Ponina v. Leland, 454 P.2d 6 (Nev. 1969). See also Western States Const., Inc. v. Michoff, 840 P.2d 1220 (Nev. 1992) (reaffirming Nevada's "strong public policy of encouraging legal marriages.")

Because the public policy in favor of marriage is so strong, Nevada will recognize the marriage between the NH and Mr. H~ as valid if it was valid in British Columba, the jurisdiction where it was solemnized.

British Columbia Marriage Law

To get married in Province of British Columbia, the bride and groom must be over 19 years of age and obtain a marriage licence. Anyone under 19 years of age must obtain parental consent; no one under 16 years of age can be married without the consent of the Supreme or County Court. Same sex marriage is allowed throughout Canada. If either party has divorced within the past 31 days, proof of finalized divorce must be provided.

In order to apply for a marriage licence, both parties must provide identification establishing full name, including given name; birth date and birth place; marital status; and, current address. The marriage commissioner or religious representative who performs the ceremony is responsible for completing the Marriage Registration Form and sending it to the Vital Statistics Agency. After the marriage is registered, a Marriage Certificate is issued by the Vital Statistics Agency.

In this case, it appears that the NH's marriage to Byron C.~ H~ is valid under the Marriage Act of Canada and, since it does not appear to involve a marriage between two individuals of the same sex, it would therefore be recognized by Nevada as a valid marriage. The Marriage Certificate bears a registration number, the signature of a registration official, and (apparently) the seal of the registry office. Both parties to the marriage were over 19 years of age and the marriage could only be registered upon submission of proof that the parties consented and were free to marry. Thus it appears that the marriage is valid under British Columbia law.

Name Change in Nevada

Since Nevada retains the common law right to change one's name, a wife may retain her surname or adopt her husband's surname; a husband may retain his surname or adopt his wife's surname; the husband and wife may choose a hyphenated combination of both names in either order; or the husband and wife may take an entirely new surname. Nev. Const. art. 4, § 20.

Accordingly, we believe that Nevada would recognize the NH's marriage to Byron C.~ H~ in North Vancouver, British Columbia as a basis for changing her legal name to add her husband's surname.

Name Change for Agency Purposes

The Marriage Certificate contains biographical information (date of birth) in addition to the NH's legal name, which can be compared with the date on her application for a name change. While the Marriage Certificate does not include the "new name," SSA will accept a marriage document as a legal name change document if the new name can be derived from the marriage document so long as the document contains the required biographical information. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)((1)(a)(Interim Guidance) and National Question & Answer, Tracking number 06-007 (electronically accessible via link from POMS RM 00203.210). Inasmuch as the requested name change to Amanda E~ H~ can be easily derived from the names of Amanda F. E~ and Byron C. H~ and the document contains biographical information in the form of the NH's date of birth, the Marriage Certificate is sufficient evidence for her name change.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, we believe that Nevada state law would recognize the British Columbia marriage as valid, and that the Marriage Certificate from British Columbia is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change Amanda F. E~ to Amanda E~ H~ on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.

B. PR 06-294 Validity of United Kingdom Marriage Under Nevada Law, Request for Name Change by Number Holder Melita M.~ C~ SSN: ~

DATE: August 18, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

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

2. OPINION

You have asked whether the State of Nevada would recognize as valid a marriage that took place in Rhondda C.~ T~, Wales, United Kingdom. You have further asked, assuming a valid marriage, if the marriage document issued in the United Kingdom is sufficient evidence of a legal name change for Agency purposes.

BACKGROUND

SSA's Numident records indicate that the number holder (NH) Melita M.~ C~ was born on June 10, 1969 in Akron, Ohio to Marva A. J~ and Theodore L~ and is a United States citizen.

The NH completed and signed an Application for Replacement Social Security Number Card, requesting a name change from Melita M.~ C~ to Melita M.~ H~. In support of her application, she submitted a Nevada driver's license, issued December 2005. She also provided a Marriage Certificate issued in Rhondda C.~ T~, Wales, United Kingdom showing that Melita M. C~, whose previous marriage had been dissolved, married Allan H~ on August 21, 2004. The Marriage Certificate indicates that the groom, Allan H~, was 53 years old, and that the bride, Melita M.~ C~, was 35 years old. The marriage was registered with registration number TWA 745566.

ANALYSIS

An individual may request a replacement Social Security card bearing the same number and a new legal name. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(e) (as amended in 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,056 (July 31, 2006)). The applicant must submit one or more documents identifying him or herself by both the old name (as shown on the latest Numident record) and the new name. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210. Additionally, the identity document(s) must show information that can be compared to the Numident data (e.g., age, date of birth, parents' names). Id. (citing POMS RM 00203.210F). The applicant may submit either:

1. One legal name change document showing both the old and new names (e.g., a court order for a name change or a marriage document). The document must also show either (1) a description or photograph of the person or (2) biological information (i.e., age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared with the Numident data. A legal name change document that meets these criteria is also an acceptable identity document for a name change if the name change event occurred within the last two years . . . If the name change event occurred over two years ago, the applicant must submit an identity document in the old name and another identity document in the new name from the lists in RM 00203.200E. in addition to the legal name change document.; or

2. When the name change document does not show either a photograph of the person or biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data, then, in addition to the name change document, the applicant must also submit two identity documents listed in RM 00203.200E. One of the submitted identity documents must show the old name (the name on the latest Numident record) AND the other submitted identity document must show the new name (the name to be shown on the corrected SSN card). The identity documents submitted must show either a photograph of the applicant or provide biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data.

POMS RM 00203.210.

Where the applicant is a U.S. resident and is requesting a replacement Social Security card based on a foreign marriage, SSA must determine whether the state where the applicant resides recognizes the foreign marriage. POMS RM 00203.200(H)(3)(d); RM 00203.210(B)(1)(d); POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8); see also Memorandum from OGC's Office of Program Law to Office of Disability Income Security Programs, Name Change Involving Foreign Marriage (March 8, 2006). If the state of residence recognizes the marriage, SSA will assume that the state applies its own law for a legal name change in foreign marriages also. Id.; cf. Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel to Office of Program Law, Legal Name Changes - REPLY (January 30, 2006). Here, the NH resides in Nevada. Thus, we will discuss whether Nevada law would recognize as valid the United Kingdom marriage between the NH and Mr. H~.

Nevada Marriage Law

No Nevada statute or case law specifically addresses the validity of a foreign marriage. According to American jurisprudence, however, "[t]he general rule is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where it is contracted, or celebrated. Thus, a marriage which is valid under the law of the state or country in which it is contracted will generally be recognized as valid." See 52 Am. Jur. 2d Marriage § 63 (2005).

Moreover, the Supreme Court of Nevada has affirmed the strong public policy favoring marriage, noting with favor:

Public Policy as to Marriage -- In view of the importance of marriage as a social institution, and the benefits accruing therefrom, it is favored by public policy and the law. It follows that a marriage will, if possible, be upheld as valid and that its validity will be presumed unless disproved. A statute will not be construed to make a marriage void unless the legislative intent to such effect is clear and unequivocal.

Ponina v. Leland, 454 P.2d 6 (Nev. 1969). See also Western States Const., Inc. v. Michoff,

840 P.2d 1220 (Nev. 1992) (reaffirming Nevada's "strong public policy of encouraging legal marriages.")

Because the public policy in favor of marriage is so strong, Nevada will recognize the marriage between the NH and Mr. H~ as valid if it was valid in the United Kingdom, the jurisdiction where it was solemnized.

United Kingdom Marriage Law

In general, for a civil marriage, both contracting parties must 1) observe the statutory residence requirements, 2) be at least 16 years old, 3) if previously married, produce evidence that they are currently free to marry, such as an original or certified copy of a spouse's death decree or divorce decree, and 4) arrange for two witnesses to be present and sign the Marriage Register.

Marriages in England and Wales are regulated by a Registrar's Office in each district. For civil marriages, the Registrar takes the Notice of Marriage (the license application), issues the certificate, and conducts the ceremony.

In this case, it appears that the NH's marriage to Mr. H~ is valid in the United Kingdom and would therefore be recognized by Nevada as a valid marriage. The Marriage Certificate shows that both parties were over the age of 18 and that the marriage was witnessed by two people who signed the Marriage Register. Moreover, the marriage could only be registered upon submission of proof that both parties met the residency requirements and were free to marry and consented to do so. Thus it appears that the marriage is valid under United Kingdom law.

Name Change in Nevada

Since Nevada retains the common law right to change one's name, a wife may retain her surname or adopt her husband's surname; a husband may retain his surname or adopt his wife's surname; the husband and wife may choose a hyphenated combination of both names in either order; or the husband and wife may take an entirely new surname. Nev. Const. art. 4, § 20.

Accordingly, we believe that Nevada would recognize the NH's marriage to Mr. H~ in the United Kingdom as a basis for changing her legal name to adopt her husband's surname.

Name Change for Agency Purposes

The Marriage Certificate contains biographical information (age and father' name) in addition to the NH's legal name, which can be compared with the data on her application for a name change. While the Marriage Certificate does not include the "new name," SSA will accept a marriage document as a legal name change document if the new name can be derived from the marriage document so long as the document contains the required biographical information. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)((1)(a)(Interim Guidance) and National Question & Answer, Tracking number 06-007 (electronically accessible via link from POMS RM 00203.210). Inasmuch as the requested name change to Melita M.~ H~ can be easily derived from the names of Alan H~ and Melita M.~ C~ and the document contains biographical information in the form of the NH's age and father's name, the Marriage Certificate is sufficient evidence for her name change.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, we believe that Nevada state law would recognize the United Kingdom marriage as valid, and that the Marriage Certificate from the United Kingdom is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change the NH's name to Melita M.~ H~ on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.

C. PR 06-293 Validity of Belize Marriage Under Nevada Law, Request for Name Change by Number Holder Laura J.~ C~ SSN: ~

DATE: August 18, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

This precedent duplicates the legal issue found in CPM 06-294 that indicates that SSA can process the name change and issue a replacement SSN card because the State of Nevada acknowledges a foreign marriage in Belize.

2. OPINION

You have asked whether the State of Nevada would recognize as valid a marriage that took place in Belize. You have further asked, assuming a valid marriage, if the marriage document issued by Belize is sufficient evidence of a legal name change for Agency purposes.

BACKGROUND

SSA's Numident records indicate that the number holder (NH) Laura J.~ C~ was born on September 10, 1958 in Napa, California to Sandra J. C~ and Leo C~, and is a United States citizen.

The NH completed and signed an Application for Replacement Social Security Number Card, requesting a name change from Laura J.~ C~ to Laura J.~ P~. In support of her application, she submitted a Nevada driver's license, issued in August 2003, in the name of Laura J. C~. She also provided a Certified Copy of Duplicate Original Marriage Register issued by Belize showing that Laura J. C~ married Kenneth E.~ P~ in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize on May 11, 2006. The Marriage Register indicates that the groom, Kenneth E.~ P~, was divorced and was 49 years of age, and that the bride, Laura J.~ C~, was divorced and was 47 years of age. The marriage was registered in Belize City on May 12, 2006.

ANALYSIS

An individual may request a replacement Social Security card bearing the same number and a new legal name. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(e) (as amended in 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,056 (July 31, 2006)). The applicant must submit one or more documents identifying him or herself by both the old name (as shown on the latest Numident record) and the new name. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210. Additionally, the identity document(s) must show information that can be compared to the Numident data (e.g., age, date of birth, parents' names). Id. (citing POMS RM 00203.210F). The applicant may submit either:

1. One legal name change document showing both the old and new names (e.g., a court order for a name change or a marriage document). The document must also show either (1) a description or photograph of the person or (2) biological information (i.e., age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared with the Numident data. A legal name change document that meets these criteria is also an acceptable identity document for a name change if the name change event occurred within the last two years . . . If the name change event occurred over two years ago, the applicant must submit an identity document in the old name and another identity document in the new name from the lists in RM 00203.200E. in addition to the legal name change document.; or

2. When the name change document does not show either a photograph of the person or biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data, then, in addition to the name change document, the applicant must also submit two identity documents listed in RM 00203.200E. One of the submitted identity documents must show the old name (the name on the latest Numident record) AND the other submitted identity document must show the new name (the name to be shown on the corrected SSN card). The identity documents submitted must show either a photograph of the applicant or provide biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data.

POMS RM 00203.210.

Where the applicant is a U.S. resident and is requesting a replacement Social Security card based on a foreign marriage, SSA must determine whether the state where the applicant resides recognizes the foreign marriage. POMS RM 00203.200(H)(3)(d); RM 00203.210(B)(1)(d); POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8); see also Memorandum from OGC's Office of Program Law to Office of Disability Income Security Programs, Name Change Involving Foreign Marriage (March 8, 2006). If the state of residence recognizes the marriage, SSA will assume that the state applies its own law for a legal name change in foreign marriages also. Id.; cf. Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel to Office of Program Law, Legal Name Changes - REPLY (January 30, 2006). Here, the NH resides in Nevada. Thus, we will discuss whether Nevada law would recognize as valid the Belize marriage between the NH and Kenneth E.~ P~.

Nevada Marriage Law

No Nevada statute or case law specifically addresses the validity of a foreign marriage. According to American jurisprudence, however, "[t]he general rule is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where it is contracted, or celebrated. Thus, a marriage which is valid under the law of the state or country in which it is contracted will generally be recognized as valid." See 52 Am. Jur. 2d Marriage § 63 (2005).

Moreover, the Supreme Court of Nevada has affirmed the strong public policy favoring marriage, noting with favor:

Public Policy as to Marriage -- In view of the importance of marriage as a social institution, and the benefits accruing therefrom, it is favored by public policy and the law. It follows that a marriage will, if possible, be upheld as valid and that its validity will be presumed unless disproved. A statute will not be construed to make a marriage void unless the legislative intent to such effect is clear and unequivocal.

Ponina v. Leland, 454 P.2d 6 (Nev. 1969). See also Western States Const., Inc. v. Michoff,

840 P.2d 1220 (Nev. 1992) (reaffirming Nevada's "strong public policy of encouraging legal marriages.")

Because the public policy in favor of marriage is so strong, Nevada will recognize the marriage between the NH and Mr. P~ as valid if it was valid in Belize, the jurisdiction where it was solemnized.

Belize Marriage Law

In the nation of Belize, marriage registration is regulated by the Marriage Act. Laws of Belize, Vol. IV, Title XV, Chapt. 174, rev. 2000. The minimum age for marriage is 18 years for both the husband and wife; parental consent is required for individuals under age 18. The parties must be in Belize for at least three days before applying for a marriage license. The parties must complete the application process before a Justice of the Peace, where they are required to state their full names, the place where the marriage will be solemnized, whether either or both have previously been married, and that they know of no impediment of kindred or alliance, to prevent the marriage. The parties are required to provide photocopies of their passports and evidence of dissolution or termination of any previous marriage (death certificates and/or divorce decrees). Belize does not permit proxy marriages or marriages between individuals within the prohibited degrees of relationship.

Marriages are immediately entered in an Original Marriage Register by the marriage officer and a certified copy of the entry is provided to one of the parties to the marriage. The Marriage Act provides that the entry must be signed by the marriage officer and by the parties married.

A Certified Copy of the Duplicate Original Marriage Register is provided to the parties.

In this case, it appears that the NH's marriage to Kenneth E.~ P~ is valid under the Marriage Act of Belize and would therefore be recognized by Nevada as a valid marriage. The Duplicate Original Marriage Register contains all the information required by the Marriage Act of Belize. Both parties to the marriage were over 18 years of age and the marriage could only be registered upon submission of proof that the parties were free to marry and consented to do so. Thus it appears that the marriage is valid under Belize law.

Name Change in Nevada

Since Nevada retains the common law right to change one's name, a wife may retain her surname or adopt her husband's surname; a husband may retain his surname or adopt his wife's surname; the husband and wife may choose a hyphenated combination of both names in either order; or the husband and wife may take an entirely new surname. Nev. Const. art. 4, § 20.

Accordingly, we believe that Nevada would recognize the NH's marriage to Kenneth E.~ P~ in Belize as a basis for changing her legal name to adopt her husband's surname.

Name Change for Agency Purposes

The Certified Copy of the Duplicate Original Marriage Register contains biographical information (age) in addition to the NH's legal name, which can be compared with the date on her application for a name change. While the marriage document does not include the "new name," SSA will accept a marriage document as a legal name change document if the new name can be derived from the marriage document so long as the document contains the required biographical information. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)((1)(a)(Interim Guidance) and National Question & Answer, Tracking number 06-007 (electronically accessible via link from POMS RM 00203.210). Inasmuch as the requested name change to Laura J.~ P~ can be easily derived from the names of Laura J. C~ and Kenneth E.~ P~ and the document contains biographical information in the form of the NH's age on the Certified Copy of the Duplicate Original Marriage Register is sufficient evidence for her name change.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, we believe that Nevada state law would recognize the Belize marriage as valid, and that the Certified Copy of Duplicate Original Marriage Register from Belize is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change Laura J.~ C~ to Laura J.~ P~ on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.

D. PR 06-282 Validity of St. Lucia Marriage under Nevada Law, Request for Name Change by Number Holder Cindy B~ SSN: ~

DATE: August 14, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

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

2. OPINION

You have asked whether the State of Nevada would recognize as valid a marriage that took place in St. Lucia. You have further asked, assuming a valid marriage, if the marriage document issued by St. Lucia is sufficient evidence of a legal name change for Agency purposes.

BACKGROUND

SSA's Numident records indicate that the number holder (NH) Cindy J.~ B~ was born on July 4, 1970 in Clarksburg, West Virginia, to Sharon O. A~ and Thomas A. S~, and is a United States citizen.The NH completed and signed an Application for Replacement Social Security Number Card, requesting a name change from Cindy J.~ B~ to Cindy J.~ B~. In support of her application, she submitted a U.S. Passport, issued in April 2001. She also provided a Marriage Certificate issued by St. Lucia showing that Cynthia J.~ B~, who was previously married to Robert B~, married Douglas R.~ B~ in the parish of Casties, St. Lucia, on March 4, 2006. The Marriage Certificate indicates that the groom, Douglas R.~ B~, was born to Paul B~ and Sandra B~ on November 11, 1966 and that the bride, Cynthia J.~ B~, was born to Thomas S~ and Sharon S~ on July 4, 1970. The marriage was witnessed by Paul B~ and Joseph C.~ F~.

ANALYSIS

An individual may request a replacement Social Security card bearing the same number and a new legal name. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(e) (as amended in 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,056 (July 31, 2006). The applicant must submit one or more documents identifying him or herself by both the old name (as shown on the latest Numident record) and the new name. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210. Additionally, the identity document(s) must show information that can be compared to the Numident data (e.g., age, date of birth, parents' names). Id. (citing POMS RM 00203.210F). The applicant may submit either:

1. One legal name change document showing both the old and new names (e.g., a court order for a name change or a marriage document). The document must also show either (1) a description or photograph of the person or (2) biological information (i.e., age, date of birth or parents' names) that can be compared with the Numident data. A legal name change document that meets these criteria is also an acceptable identity document for a name change if the name change event occurred within the last two years . . . If the name change event occurred over two years ago, the applicant must submit an identity document in the old name and another identity document in the new name from the lists in RM 00203.200E. in addition to the legal name change document.; or

2. When the name change document does not show either a photograph of the person or biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data, then, in addition to the name change document, the applicant must also submit two identity documents listed in RM 00203.200E. One of the submitted identity documents must show the old name (the name on the latest Numident record) AND the other submitted identity document must show the new name (the name to be shown on the corrected SSN card). The identity documents submitted must show either a photograph of the applicant or provide biographical information that can be compared with the Numident data.

POMS RM 00203.210.

Where the applicant is a U.S. resident and is requesting a replacement Social Security card based on a foreign marriage, SSA must determine whether the state where the applicant resides recognizes the foreign marriage. POMS RM 00203.200(H)(3)(d); RM 00203.210(B)(1)(d); POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8); see also Memorandum from OGC's Office of Program Law to Office of Disability Income Security Programs, Name Change Involving Foreign Marriage (March 8, 2006). If the state of residence recognizes the marriage, SSA will assume that the state applies its own law for a legal name change in foreign marriages also. Id.; cf. Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel to Office of Program Law, Legal Name Changes - REPLY (January 30, 2006). Here, the NH resides in Nevada. Thus, we will discuss whether Nevada law would recognize as valid the St. Lucia marriage between the NH and Douglas R.~ B~.

Nevada Marriage Law

No Nevada statute or case law specifically addresses the validity of a foreign marriage. According to American jurisprudence, however, "[t]he general rule is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where it is contracted, or celebrated. Thus, a marriage which is valid under the law of the state or country in which it is contracted will generally be recognized as valid." See 52 Am. Jur. 2d Marriage § 63 (2005).

Moreover, the Supreme Court of Nevada has affirmed the strong public policy favoring marriage, noting with favor:

Public Policy as to Marriage -- In view of the importance of marriage as a social institution, and the benefits accruing therefrom, it is favored by public policy and the law. It follows that a marriage will, if possible, be upheld as valid and that its validity will be presumed unless disproved. A statute will not be construed to make a marriage void unless the legislative intent to such effect is clear and unequivocal.

Ponina v. Leland, 454 P.2d 6 (Nev. 1969). See also Western States Const., Inc. v. Michoff, 840 P.2d 1220 (Nev. 1992) (reaffirming Nevada's "strong public policy of encouraging legal marriages.")

Because the public policy in favor of marriage is so strong, Nevada will recognize the marriage between the NH and Mr. B~ as valid if it was valid in St. Lucia, the jurisdiction where it was solemnized.

St. Lucia Marriage Law

Marriages may be performed by license of the Honorable Attorney General, after the publication of banns, if a religious marriage, or after publication of Notice, in the case of a civil marriage. The parties must apply for a license by petition, lodged by a local solicitor, at the Attorney General's chambers. The petition must state: the Christian or other names and surnames of the parties and their profession or occupation; the place where the marriage is to be performed and the name of the status officer who will solemnize the marriage; whether either of the parties has been previously married, and if so, whether there is a divorce; that the parties know of no impediment of kindred or alliance, or other lawful cause to prevent the proposed marriage; and whether either party, not being a widower or widow, is under the age of eighteen years and, if so, that the required consent to the marriage has been obtained. The petition is to be signed by both parties, and must be accompanied by an affidavit of one of the parties verifying the facts mentioned in the petition and by immigration cards and birth certificates and/or passports as well as by divorce documents (Decree Absolute), if applicable. If either party has changed his or her name, the relevant documents must be produced. St. Lucia requires that the documents be original documents or certified as true copies of the original by an authorized official.

In this case, it appears that the NH's marriage to Douglas R.~ B~ is valid under the laws of St. Lucia and would therefore be recognized by Nevada as a valid marriage. The Marriage Certificate is recorded in the Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials of the Parish of Casties, bears the signature of the parties to the marriage, two witnesses, and the Civil Status Officer who performed the marriage, and (apparently) the seal of the Registrar of Civil Status. Both parties to the marriage are over eighteen years of age. The marriage could only be registered upon submission of proof that the parties were free to marry and consented to do so. Thus, it appears that the marriage is valid under St. Lucian law.

Name Change in Nevada

Since Nevada retains the common law right to change one's name, a wife may retain her surname or adopt her husband's surname; a husband may retain his surname or adopt his wife's surname; the husband and wife may choose a hyphenated combination of both names in either order; or the husband and wife may take an entirely new surname. Nev. Const. art. 4, § 20.

Accordingly, we believe that Nevada would recognize the NH's marriage to Mr. B~ in St. Lucia as a basis for changing her legal name to adopt her husband's surname.

Name Change for Agency Purposes

The Marriage Certificate contains biographical information (date of birth and the names of the NH's parents), in addition to the NH's legal name, which can be compared with the information on her application for a name change. While the Marriage Certificate does not include the "new name," SSA will accept a marriage document as a legal name change document if the new name can be derived from the marriage document so long as the document contains the required biographical information. See POMS RM 00203.210(B)((1)(a)(Interim Guidance) and National Question & Answer, Tracking number 06-007 (electronically accessible via link from POMS RM 00203.210).

Inasmuch as the requested name change to Cindy J.~ B~ can be easily derived from the names of Cynthia J.~ B~ and Douglas R.~ B~ and the document contains biographical information in the form of the NH's date of birth and the names of her parents, the Marriage Certificate is sufficient evidence for her name change.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, we believe that Nevada state law would recognize the St. Lucia marriage as valid, and that the Marriage Certificate from St. Lucia is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change Cindy J.~ B~ to Cindy J.~ B~ on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.

E. PR 06-216 Validity of Jamaican Marriage Under Nevada Law, Request for Name Change by Number Holder Shannon L.~ B~ SSN: ~

DATE: July 31, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

Nevada state law would recognize the Jamaican marriage as valid, and that the Jamaican Marriage Register is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change the wife's name when she is taking her husband's last name on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.

2. OPINION

You have asked whether the State of Nevada would recognize as valid a marriage that took place in Jamaica. You have further asked, assuming a valid marriage, if the marriage document issued by Jamaica is sufficient evidence of a legal name change for Agency purposes.

BACKGROUND

SSA's Numident records indicate that the number holder (NH) Shannon L.~ B~ was born on April 30, 1968 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to Renne A. B~ (nee Pool) and Craig L. B~, and is a United States citizen.

The NH completed and signed an Application for Replacement Social Security Number Card, requesting a name change from Shannon L.~ B~ to Shannon L.~ M~. In support of her application, she submitted a Nevada driver's license issued on April 5, 2005, in the name of Shannon L.~ M~. She also provided a Marriage Register showing that she married William Joseph M~, Jr., in Ocho Rios, St. Ann's Parish, Jamaica, West Indies, on March 23, 2005. The Marriage Register also indicates that the groom, William M~, age 58, is divorced, and the bride, Shannon L. B~, age 35, is a spinster (single female). The marriage was witnessed by Craig and Renne B~, and performed at Sandals, Ocho Rios, by Garland B~, who held a minister's license.

ANALYSIS

An individual may request a replacement Social Security card bearing the same number and a new legal name. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.103(e) (as amended in 71 Fed. Reg. 43,054, 43,056 (July 31, 2006). The applicant must submit one or more documents identifying him or herself by both the old name (as shown on the latest Numident record) and the new name. See Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210. Additionally, the identity document(s) must show information that can be compared to the Numident data (e.g., age, date of birth, parents' names). Id. (citing POMS RM 00203.210F). The applicant may submit either:

1. One document showing both the old and new names which establishes both identities (e.g., a court order for a name change or a marriage certificate). The document must also show either a photograph of the person or information that can be compared with the Numident data; or

(2) Two documents, one showing the old name and one showing the new name (e.g., a driver's license in the new name and a passport, employee ID Card, or medical records in the old name). Additionally, both documents must show either a photograph of the person or provide information that can be compared with the Numident data.

Id.

Where the applicant is a U.S. resident and is requesting a replacement Social Security card based on a foreign marriage, SSA must determine whether the state where the applicant resides recognizes the foreign marriage. POMS RM 00203.200(H)(3)(d); RM 00203.210(B)(1)(d); POMS RM 00203.210(D)(8); see also Memorandum from OGC's Office of Program Law to Office of Disability Income Security Programs, Name Change Involving Foreign Marriage (March 8, 2006). If the state of residence recognizes the marriage, SSA will assume that the state applies its own law for a legal name change in foreign marriages also. Id.; cf. Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel to Office of Program Law, Legal Name Changes - REPLY (January 30, 2006). Here, the NH resides in Nevada. Thus, we will discuss whether Nevada law would recognize as valid the Jamaican marriage between the NH and Mr. M~.

Nevada Marriage Law

No Nevada statute or case law specifically addresses the validity of a foreign marriage. According to American jurisprudence, however, "[t]he general rule is that the validity of a marriage is determined by the law of the place where it is contracted, or celebrated. Thus, a marriage which is valid under the law of the state or country in which it is contracted will generally be recognized as valid." See 52 Am. Jur. 2d Marriage § 63 (2005).

Moreover, the Supreme Court of Nevada has affirmed the strong public policy favoring marriage, noting with favor:

Public Policy as to Marriage -- In view of the importance of marriage as a social institution, and the benefits accruing therefrom, it is favored by public policy and the law. It follows that a marriage will, if possible, be upheld as valid and that its validity will be presumed unless disproved. A statute will not be construed to make a marriage void unless the legislative intent to such effect is clear and unequivocal.

Ponina v. Leland, 454 P.2d 6 (Nev. 1969). See also Western States Const., Inc. v. Michoff, 840 P.2d 1220 (Nev. 1992) (reaffirming Nevada's "strong public policy of encouraging legal marriages.")

Because the public policy in favor of marriage is so strong, Nevada will recognize the marriage between the NH and Mr. M~ as valid if it was valid in Jamaica, the jurisdiction where it was solemnized.

Jamaica Marriage Law

The Jamaican Marriage Act states that a marriage may be solemnized under the authority of a (1) Civil Registrar's certificate or Civil Registrars' certificates; (2) Marriage Officer's certificate or Marriage Officers' certificates; (3) license from a Minister; (4) license from a Justice, the Clerk of a Resident Magistrate's Court, or any person appointed for the purpose by the Minister; or (5) without such authority as in the case involving a person who is in articulo mortis (at the point of death). See Marriage Act at 16; see also id. at 21 (explaining that a Minister may grant a license for marriage to persons intending to solemnize the marriage upon proof to the Minister's satisfaction that no impediment to marriage exists).

Within three months of the issuance of the required certificate or license, a marriage may be solemnized between the parties if: (1) the marriage is solemnized in the presence of a Marriage Officer and two witnesses between the hours of six in the morning and eight in the evening;

(2) the license is first delivered to the Marriage Officer by or before whom the marriage is to be solemnized; (3) each party to the marriage in the presence of the Marriage Officer and witnesses declares that he/she knows of no lawful impediment to the marriage of one another; (4) each party to the marriage declares to each other to take the other party to be his/her lawful wife/husband; (5) no lawful impediment to the marriage exists; and (6) the parties have reached age eighteen or have obtained the necessary consent. Id. at 24, 26-27. Immediately after the solemnization, the Marriage Officer, before whom the marriage was solemnized, is required to enter the marriage in a Marriage Register Book to be kept by him and in duplicate for filing with the Registrar-General in the General Register Office. Id. at 30-32, 39. The Marriage Register Book and the duplicate must be signed by the Marriage Officer, the parties married, and the two witnesses to the marriage. Id. at 31. The Marriage Officer is required to deliver the duplicate register to the RegistrarGeneral and to provide a certified copy of the register to one of the parties to the marriage. Id. 32. Finally, the Marriage Act provides that the General Register Office is responsible for keeping registers of all marriages solemnized in Jamaica and shall provide a seal or stamp with all certified copies of documents issued out of its office. Id. at 39-40. The General Register Office must provide to any person (after payment of the appointed fee) a copy of any Marriage Register in the General Register Office and must bear the seal and stamp of the Registrar General Office. Id. at 47.

In this case, it appears that the NH's marriage to Mr. M~ is valid under the Jamaican Marriage Act and would therefore be recognized by Nevada as a valid marriage. The NH submitted a photocopy of a Marriage Register issued by the Registrar General's Department. As detailed above, such a document could only be issued if a Marriage Officer in Jamaica entered the marriage between the NH and Mr. M~ in the Marriage Register Book and delivered the duplicate register to the Registrar-General. Furthermore, the Marriage Register indicates that the NH obtained a minister's license, delivered it to the Marriage Officer, solemnized the marriage in the presence of a Marriage Officer (Garland B~) and two witnesses (Craig B~ and Renee B~), both parties to the marriage were at least age eighteen years of age, and there is no evidence that a lawful impediment to the marriage existed. Thus, it appears that the marriage is valid under Jamaican law.

Additionally, there is a strong presumption in favor of marriage in that the Marriage Act states that no marriage shall be declared void on the ground that any of the conditions of the Marriage Act directed to be observed were not duly observed. Id. at 4. The only identified reasons for voiding a marriage under Jamaican law include situations where the person solemnizing the marriage was not a Marriage Officer, less than two witnesses were present, one of the parties to the marriage was less than age sixteen years old, the parties to the marriage were within the prohibited degree of consanguinity or affinity, or the marriage involved two persons one of whom is in articulo mortis (at the point of death) and not all formalities were followed. Id. at 3-4, 37. There are no facts to indicate that the marriage should be deemed void.

Name Change in Nevada

Since Nevada retains the common law right to change one's name, a wife may retain her surname or adopt her husband's surname; a husband may retain his surname or adopt his wife's surname; the husband and wife may choose a hyphenated combination of both names in either order; or the husband and wife may take an entirely new surname. Nev. Const. art. 4, § 20.

Accordingly, we believe that Nevada would recognize the NH's Jamaican marriage as a basis for a legal name change to her husband's surname of M~.

We also note, as further support that Nevada would recognize the Jamaican marriage as a basis for a legal name change, that the Nevada Department of Transportation specifically allows an individual to change his/her name on a driver's license based upon marriage. Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, Name Changes (visited July 26, 2006) <http://www.dmvnv.com/namechange.htm>. In fact, the NH submitted her Nevada driver's license, demonstrating that Nevada allowed her to change her last name to M~. For all the above reasons, we believe that Nevada would recognize, and did recognize, the NH's marriage to Mr. M~ in Jamaica as a basis for changing her legal name to adopt her husband's surname.

Name Change for Agency Purposes

In this case, we believe the Marriage Register alone is an acceptable identity document supporting the NH's requested name change. The Marriage Register contains biographical information (age) in addition to the NH's legal name, which can be compared with the data on her application for a name change. While the Marriage Register does not include the "new name," we note that SSA issued guidance on January 13, 2006, stating that SSA "can accept a marriage document as a legal name change document if the new name can be derived from the marriage document" so long as the document contains the required biographical information. See National Question & Answer, Tracking number 06-007 (electronically accessible via link from POMS RM 00203.210). Inasmuch as the requested name change to Shannon L.~ M~ can be easily derived from the names of Shannon L.~ B~ and William M~, Jr., and the document contains biographical information in the form of the NH's age, we believe the marriage certificate is sufficient evidence for her name change.

CONCLUSION

For the reasons outlined above, we believe that Nevada state law would recognize the Jamaican marriage as valid, and that the Jamaican Marriage Register is an acceptable document of sufficient probative value allowing SSA to change Shannon L.~ B~ to Shannon L.~ M~ on her Numident record, and to issue a replacement Social Security card in the new name.


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/1502706031
PR 02706.031 - Nevada - 09/26/2012
Batch run: 09/26/2012
Rev:09/26/2012