TN 3 (07-06)

PR 02706.041 Oregon

A. PR 06-276 Acceptance of Ukrainian Marriage by Oregon for Purposes of Name Change - REPLY

DATE: August 9, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

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

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the State of Oregon would recognize a marriage that took place in and was subsequently registered in Ukraine, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Oregon. If so, can SSA change the name of the number holder on SSA's records?

SHORT ANSWER

Yes, the State of Oregon would likely recognize the marriage of Mariya I. G~ and Mykola R. I~ as certified by the government of Ukraine, if it can be ascertained they were not related as siblings by adoption or as parent and child by adoption prior to the marriage. Because marriage is an accepted basis to change a name, SSA can change the name of a married number holder on SSA's records.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Mariya I. G~ requested we change her last name to I~ to reflect her recent marriage to Mykola R. I~. Ms. G~ presented a Marriage Certificate from Ukraine attesting to her marriage to Mr. I~ on February 10, 2006. Both Ms. G~ and Mr. I~ are residents of Oregon. Ms. G~ is a citizen of the United States. Mr. I~ is a citizen of Ukraine.

ANALYSIS

A number holder's name may be changed on SSA's records when there is proof a legal name change has occurred. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.110(a); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210 A.1. Marriage is an event that may lawfully cause a name change. POMS RM 00203.210A.2. The requested name change must be supported by an acceptable identity document. See POMS RM 00203.210 A.1. A document issued by a foreign government is acceptable as preferred proof of ceremonial marriage. See POMS GN 00305.020 A.4. Generally, SSA looks to state law to determine the existence of a marital relationship. See generally 20 C.F.R. § 404.345. Thus, here, if the State of Oregon would recognize the marriage in question and accept a related name change, SSA would accept that marriage as a basis for a name change in SSA's records.

1. The Ukrainian Marriage Appears Valid

Marriage requirements under the Family Code of Ukraine restrict marriage to the freely consented union between a man of at least eighteen years of age and a woman of at least seventeen years of age. See Family Code of Ukraine (FCU) § II, ch. 3, art. 21, 22, 24. A court may grant the right to marry to an individual of at least fourteen years of age depending upon the interests of that person. FCU § II, ch. 3, art. 23. Bigamy is forbidden and blood-related full and half siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews, and nieces may not marry one another. FCU § II, ch. 3, art. 25, 26. A court may permit adopted siblings to marry one another, but adopted children may not marry their adoptive parent unless the adoption has been terminated. FCU § II, ch. 3, art. 26.

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a certified true copy of the marriage certificate registered with the "Department of Civil Acts Registry of G~ District Justice Administration." See 20 C.F.R. 422.107 (general evidence requirements to establish identity). It is signed by the Registrar of Civil Acts Registry, S. M. N~, and appears to have a seal affixed, satisfying the requirements of POMS GN 00301.030 A.3. It does not appear that the document is questionable, doubtful, or of unknown value. Therefore, a field investigation to establish the validity of the document is not necessary. See POMS GN 00307.001 B.

That certificate states that Mykola I~ and Mariya G~ were married February 10, 2006. The marriage was registered with the Department of Civil Acts Registry of G~ District Justice Administration on that date, satisfying Ukraine's requirement that "[a] marriage is registered in the premises of the public civil status act registration authority." See FCU § 2, ch. 4, art. 33(1). The Certificate states that the marriage was recorded in the book of Marriage Registry on 02/10/2006, in book 08, and it bears the signature of the Registrar of Civil Acts as proof of a ceremonial marriage.

2. Oregon Law Relevant to the Ukrainian Marriage Certificate

Oregon does not have a specific statute regarding recognition of marriages executed in foreign countries. But in Oregon, a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (u). As a general rule, Oregon looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See Garrett v. Chapman, 449 P.2d 856, 858 (Or. 1969) (certifying a Montana marriage); see also In re Booker, 557 P.2d 248, 250 (Or. App. 1976) (recognizing common law marriages from other states). Oregon also follows the general rule that, except where the marriage is contrary to local law or public policy, a marriage valid where solemnized is valid everywhere. See generally Sturgis v. Sturgis, 93 P. 696, 698 (Or. 1908). Oregon courts have considered foreign laws in determining whether to recognize a marriage alleged to have occurred in another country. See Gorman v. Gorman, 316 P.2d 543, 544-545 (Or. 1957) (finding alleged Scottish marriage not proven); Werden v. Thorpe, 867 P.2d 557, 560 (Or. Ct. App. 1994) (finding valid but voidable Mexican marriage).

Oregon law also grants a number of presumptions favorable to accepting the marriage here. The courts of Oregon presume a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a valid contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (u). In Oregon, a document purporting to be executed in an official capacity by a person authorized by the laws of a foreign country to make the execution or attestation requires no further authentication. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902 (1) (c), 40.510(3); see also § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (k). Thus, the Ukrainian marriage certificate registered with the "Department of Civil Acts Registry of G~ District Justice Administration" would be self-authenticating in Oregon because it is signed by an appropriate official.

3. Conflicts between the Marriage Law of Ukraine and Oregon

Oregon does not recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or policies of Oregon. See Garrett, 449 P.2d at 858 (1969); Beth A. A~, Comment, Same-sex Marriage: A Conflict-of-Laws Analysis for Oregon, 32 Willamette Law Review 619, 638-639 (Summer 1996). Oregon specifically prohibits marriages that would be bigamous or violate certain consanguinity prohibitions. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.020. Oregon also prohibits same sex marriages. See Li v. Oregon, 110 P.3d 91, 96-102 (Or. 2005). The laws of Oregon and Ukraine regarding bigamy, consanguinity, and same-sex marriage are consistent, except with regard to adoption, as discussed below.

There is a conflict between Oregon and Ukrainian law involving marriage between relatives by adoption. Oregon law allows relatives as close as first cousins by adoption to marry, but any two individuals of nearer kinship by adoption may not marry. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.020(2). Ukrainian law explicitly allows individuals to marry their adopted siblings with court permission, and an adopter may marry his or her adoptee if the adoption has been terminated. FCU § II, ch. 3, art. 26. Because Oregon would not recognize such a marriage, the existence of such a relationship prior to the Ukrainian marriage needs to be ruled out before the marriage can be considered valid for SSA's purposes.

There is also a conflict between the differing age and consent requirements in Oregon and Ukraine. Ukraine grants a woman the right to marry at the age of 17; no parental or guardian permission is required. See FCU §II, ch. 3, art. 22, 24. Oregon requires parent or guardian permission for individuals who are 17 years of age. Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.060. Ukraine grants persons who have attained the age of 14 the right to marry under special circumstances with court permission (FCU §II, ch. 3, art. 23), but Oregon does not allow individuals under the age of 17 to marry. See Or. Rev. Stat. §106.010, § 106.060.

Absent any violation of Oregon law or frustration of public policy, Oregon would probably recognize the Ukrainian marriage certificate as proof of marriage. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902(1)(c), § 40.510(3); see also § 40.510 Rule 311(1)(k). A conflict could arise if a woman of 17 years of age married in Ukraine without the consent of her parent or guardian, or if an individual between the age of 14 and 17 was granted permission to marry by the Ukrainian courts. In addition, parties related by adoption must not be closer than first-cousins. Oregon would likely refuse to recognize such marriages.

In this current case, Mr. I~ and Ms. G~ were married after the age of 18 as evidenced by the marriage certificate. Thus, their marriage does not conflict with Oregon law in this respect. However, because Ukraine allows adoptive siblings and adoptive parents and children to marry while Oregon does not, further inquiry is necessary to ascertain that Mr. I~ and Ms. G~ were not related by adoption as siblings or as parent and child prior to the marriage. If this can be shown, then no conflict arises in this case and Oregon should recognize this Ukrainian marriage as valid under Oregon Law.

4. Name Change Could Follow Marriage

Considering the apparent validity of the marriage document, a name change would be recognized by Oregon as a result of the marriage. Ms. G~' new name can be derived from the marriage document, which lists the groom's last name. See POMS RM 00203.210B.1.a. All states allow a bride to take the groom's last name. See id. As you note in your request for an opinion, POMS instructs that name changes based on foreign marriages depend on the law of the state where the number holder, who is a U.S. resident, resides. See POMS RM 00203.210B.1.d; RM 00203.200H.3.d. Although there is no Oregon statute that directly states that a bride may take a groom's last name, Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220 allows either party to a marriage to retain their prior surname and either party may resume using their prior surname during the marriage. Furthermore, Or. Rev. Stat. § 807.420(1)(b) implicitly recognizes a change of name by marriage. Therefore, Oregon recognizes the parties' right to change their surnames to that of their spouse upon marriage.

CONCLUSION

As long as the parties were not related by adoption as siblings or as parent and child prior to marriage, it appears Oregon would recognize the marriage in Ukraine as valid and a name change based on that marriage would be permissible.

B. PR 06-275 Acceptance by Oregon of Marriage in the Cook Islands - REPLY

DATE: August 8, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

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

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the State of Oregon would recognize a marriage that took place and was registered in the Cook Islands, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Oregon. If so, can the Social Security Administration (SSA) change the name of the number holder on SSA's records?

ANSWER

Yes, if it can be ascertained that the individuals who married in the Cook Islands, Kenneth R. K~ and Elizabeth A. A~, are not first cousins or closer, the State of Oregon would recognize as valid their marriage that took place in the Cook Islands. Because marriage is an accepted basis to change a name, SSA could then effectuate the name change request.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Ms. A~ wishes to change her name on her Social Security Number record to Elizabeth A. K~, taking Mr. K~'s name. As proof that they are married, Ms. A~ and Mr. K~ have presented to SSA a Certified Copy of Marriage Entry from Rarotonga, Cook Islands, attesting to her marriage to Mr. K~ on March 11, 2005. Both Ms. A~ and Mr. K~ are residents of Oregon.

ANALYSIS

A number holder's name may be changed on SSA's records when there is proof that a legal name change has occurred. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.110(a); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210 A.1. Marriage is an event that may lawfully cause a name change. POMS RM 00203.210 A.2. The requested name change must be supported by an acceptable identity document. See POMS RM 00203.210 A.1. A document issued by a foreign government is acceptable as preferred proof of ceremonial marriage. See POMS GN 00305.020 A.4. Generally, SSA looks to state law to determine the existence of a marital relationship. See generally 20 C.F.R. § 404.345. Thus, here, if the State of Oregon would recognize the marriage in question and accept a related name change, SSA would accept that marriage as a basis for a name change in SSA's records.

1. The Cook Islands Marriage Appears Valid

Marriage requirements under the Cook Islands Marriage Act 1973 require that the parties be of lawful age, be outside prohibited degrees of consanguinity and affinity, and not be of the same sex; and that the marriage be solemnized by an officiating minister, marriage celebrant, or Justice of the Peace. See Cook Islands Marriage Act 1973 § 30, Cook Islands Marriage Amendment Act 1998 §2, and Cook Islands Marriage Amendment Act 2000 § 2, 3. The lawful age of marriage in the Cook Islands is 16 years; however, one must have consent from one's parents or legal guardian if one is under the age of 20 years. See Cook Islands Marriage Act 1973 §§ 17, 18. After the issuance of a marriage license at least three days prior to the ceremony, the marriage officiant may solemnize the marriage in the presence of two or more witnesses, at any time between the hours of six in the morning and eight in the evening. The officiant shall enter the marriage in a Marriage Register Book to be kept by him, and forward a copy to the Registrar-General. See Cook Islands Marriage Act 1973 §§ 24, 30, 31, 34.

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a certified true copy of the Marriage Entry. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.107 (general evidence requirements to establish identity). The Marriage Entry, Number 104/2005, certifies that the marriage was solemnized in the presence of two witnesses, after delivery of license, by Marriage Celebrant Mrs. Nga M~, and further certifies that the Marriage Entry is a true copy of the particulars included in the entry in the Marriage Register kept at Avarya Karatonga, Cook Islands, satisfying the evidentiary requirements of POMS GN 00301.030 A, B. It does not appear that the document is questionable, doubtful, or of unknown value, and a field investigation to establish the validity of the document is not necessary. See POMS GN 00307.001 B. Therefore, the requirements of a valid marriage were met in the Cook Islands.

2. Oregon Law Relevant to the Copy of the Marriage Entry

Oregon does not have a specific statute regarding recognition of marriages executed in foreign countries. But in Oregon, a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. 40.135 rule 311 (1) (u). As a general rule, Oregon looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See Garrett v. Chapman, 449 P.2d 856, 858 (Or. 1969) (certifying a Montana marriage); see also In re Booker, 557 P.2d 248, 250 (Or. App. 1976) (recognizing common law marriages from other states). Oregon also follows the general rule that, except where the marriage is contrary to local law or public policy, a marriage valid where solemnized is valid everywhere. See generally Sturgis v. Sturgis, 93 P. 696, 698 (Or. 1908). Oregon courts have considered foreign laws in determining whether to recognize a marriage alleged to have occurred in another country. See Gorman v. Gorman, 316 P.2d 543, 544-545 (Or. 1957) (finding alleged Scottish marriage not proven); Werden v. Thorpe, 867 P.2d 557, 560 (Or. Ct. App. 1994) (finding valid but voidable Mexican marriage).

Oregon law also grants a number of presumptions favorable to accepting the marriage here. The courts of Oregon presume a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a valid contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (u). In Oregon, a document purporting to be executed in an official capacity by a person authorized by the laws of a foreign country to make the execution or attestation requires no further authentication. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902 (1) (c), 40.510(3); see also § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (k). Thus, the Certified Copy of Marriage Entry would be self-authenticating in Oregon because it is signed by an appropriate official.

3. Conflicts between the Marriage law of the Cook Islands and Oregon

Oregon might choose not to recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or frustrates public policies of Oregon. See Garrett, 449 P.2d at 858 (1969); Beth A. A~, Comment, Same-sex Marriage: A Conflict-of-Laws Analysis for Oregon, 32 Willamette Law Review 619, 638-639 (Summer 1996). The Cook Islands accepts some marriages that are not acceptable in Oregon. Persons sixteen years of age can marry in the Cook Islands, but Oregon requires that persons to be married be at least seventeen years old. See Cook Islands Marriage Act 1973 § 17; Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.010. The Cook Islands does not prohibit marriages of first cousins. Cook Islands marriage Act 1973 Second Schedule. Oregon prohibits marriages to first cousins. Or. Rev. State § 106.020.

Absent any violation of Oregon law or frustration of public policy, Oregon would probably recognize the Cook Islands Marriage Entry document as proof of marriage. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902 (1) (c), 40.510 Rule 311 (1) (k). Thus, here, you would need to be satisfied that Ms. A~ and Mr. K~ are age 17 or older and are not first cousins. In the present situation, the age of the parties is not an issue because the Marriage Entry lists the parties' ages as over the minimum age for Oregon. Ms. A~ and Mr. K~ can provide information confirming they are not first cousins in a form acceptable to the field office.

In an earlier opinion concerning Oregon's recognition of a foreign marriage, we advised that the state probably would recognize a marriage in another commonwealth nation, the Bahamas. See Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel Seattle, to Ass't Reg. Comm. - MOS, Seattle, Acceptance of Bahaman Marriage by Oregon for Purposes of Name Change (April 6, 2006). The same logic should apply to a marriage in the Cook Islands.

4. Name Change Could Follow Marriage

Considering the apparent validity of the marriage document and assuming further inquiry bears out the validity of the marriage, a name change would probably be recognized by Oregon as a result of the marriage; Ms. A~'s new name can be derived from the marriage document, which lists the groom's last name as "K~". See POMS RM 00203.210 B.1.a. All states allow a bride to take the groom's last name. See id. POMS instructs that name changes based on foreign marriages depend on the law of the state where the number holder, who is a U.S. resident, resides. See Id. at B.1.d and RM 00203.200 H.3.d. Although there is no Oregon statute that directly states that a bride may take a groom's last name, Oregon allows either party to a marriage to retain their prior surname and either party may resume using their prior surname during the marriage. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220. Furthermore, Or. Rev. Stat. § 807.420(1)(b) implicitly recognizes a change of name by marriage. Therefore, Oregon recognizes the parties' rights to change their surnames to that of their spouse upon marriage.

CONCLUSION

It appears that, if SSA can ascertain that the number holder, Ms. A~, and Mr. K~ are not first cousins, then the requested name change is supported by the documents provided by Ms. A~.

C. PR 06-190 Acceptance of New Zealand Marriage by Oregon for Purposes of Name Change - REPLY

DATE: July 6, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

The State of Oregon recognizes a marriage solemnized outside of Oregon, as long as it is not contrary to Oregon law or frustrates public policy. Thus, a marriage performed in New Zealand would be recognized in Oregon, provided that the parties are of opposite sex, are age 17 or older, and are not first cousins.

If an original or certified copy of a New Zealand "Particulars of Marriage" document attesting to a marriage is presented by parties meeting the above criteria, it is acceptable evidence of a name change in the State of Oregon.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the State of Oregon would recognize a marriage that took place and was registered in the Commonwealth of New Zealand, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Oregon. If so, can SSA change the name of the number holder on SSA's records?

SHORT ANSWER

Yes, if it can be ascertained that the individuals who married in New Zealand, Polly A. B~ and Stephen A. N~, submitted an original or certified Copy of Particulars of Marriage and they are not first cousins, not the same sex, and age seventeen or older (all permissible in New Zealand marriages, but not permissible in Oregon). Because marriage is an accepted basis to change a name, SSA can change the name of a married number holder on SSA's records..

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Ms. B~ wishes to change her name on her Social Security Number record to Polly A. N~, taking Mr. N~'s surname. As proof that they are married, Ms. B~ and Mr. N~ have presented to SSA a Copy of Particulars of Marriage, attesting to her marriage to Mr. N~ on February 11, 2006. Both Ms. B~ and Mr. N~ are residents of Oregon.

ANALYSIS

A number holder's name may be changed on SSA's records when there is proof that a legal name change has occurred. See 20 C.F.R. § 422.110(a); Program Operations Manual System (POMS) RM 00203.210 A.1. The requested name change must be supported by an acceptable identity document. See id. A document issued by a foreign government is acceptable as preferred proof of ceremonial marriage. See POMS GN 00305.020 A.4. Generally, SSA looks to state law to determine the existence of a marital relationship. See generally 20 C.F.R. § 404.345. Thus, here, if the State of Oregon would recognize the marriage in question and accept a related name change, SSA would accept that marriage as a basis for a name change in SSA's records.

1.The New Zealand Marriage Appears Valid

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a "Copy of Particulars of Marriage" document for Ms. B~ and Mr. N~. The Marriage Act of 1955 governs marriage law in New Zealand and is referred to as "the principal Act." See Marriage Amendment Act 2005 (N.Z.); Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.). Specifically, the principal Act applies to marriages solemnized in New Zealand, whether or not either of the parties is domiciled in New Zealand at the time of the marriage. Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.) § 3(2). Solemnization means to enter marriage publicly, in front of witnesses, in contrast to common law marriage. Black's Law Dictionary 1392 (6th ed. 1990).

New Zealand law requires that the particulars of a marriage be registered using a prescribed form. Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.) §§ 35, 36. The form must document the presence of two witnesses and the presence of an officiating minister or registrar. Id. §§ 33, 36(3). A certified copy of an entry in a register book purporting to be signed by the registrar constitutes prima facie evidence of the solemnization of the marriage to which it relates. Id. § 51. A marriage cannot be solemnized unless a marriage license (or notice of intended marriage) has been issued and delivered to the registrar within 3 months of the date the license (or notice) was issued. Id. § 30. Thus, by inference, a certified copy of an entry in a register book constitutes not only prima facie evidence of solemnization, but also prima facie evidence of a valid, current marriage license (or notice of intent to marry).

The Copy of Particulars of Marriage Ms. B~ and Mr. N~ have submitted appears to establish that they were married validly under New Zealand's law. The document lists Ms. B~ and Mr. N~ as bride and bridegroom; contains their signatures and the signatures of two witnesses, Sheila N~ and Lauriston N~; and contains the signature of either a registrar of marriage or marriage celebrant (a form of lay registrar), David B~. The document lists the location of the marriage, Tahunanui Beach, and the date, February 11, 2006.

The document is signed by a Registrar, who certifies that the wedding was solemnized in his presence, and signed by two witnesses. See Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.), §§ 33, 36(3), 51. Under New Zealand law, the document thus would establish prima facie evidence of the solemnization of the marriage to which it relates. Id. § 51.

2.SSA Cannot Accept the Document because it is Only a Photocopy

Unfortunately, the Copy of Particulars of Marriage we have is a photocopy. The information on the document appears good and establishes a valid, public marriage under New Zealand law. But POMS GN 00301.030 A.3 requires an additional signature or stamp on the physical document itself. The document does not appear questionable, doubtful, or of unknown value, but it is a photocopy with no additional certification on the document itself. Therefore, the document fails the requirements of POMS GN 00301.030 A.3. Perhaps the SSA field office has a record of receiving the original document. If not, Ms. B.~ and Mr. N.~ should submit an original to the field office. See POMS GN 00301.030. If they cannot, perhaps the New Zealand consulate in Oregon would certify the copy with a raised stamp.

3. Oregon Law Relevant to the Copy of Particulars of Marriage Oregon does not have a specific statute regarding recognition of marriages executed in foreign countries. But in Oregon, a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. 40.135 rule 311 (1) (u). As a general rule, Oregon looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See Garrett v. Chapman, 449 P.2d 856, 858 (Or. 1969) (certifying a Montana marriage); see also In re Booker, 557 P.2d 248, 250 (Or. App. 1976) (recognizing common law marriages from other states). Oregon also follows the general rule that, except where the marriage is contrary to local law or public policy, a marriage valid where solemnized is valid everywhere. See generally Sturgis v. Sturgis, 93 P. 696, 698 (Or. 1908). Oregon courts have considered foreign laws in determining whether to recognize a marriage alleged to have occurred in another country. See Gorman v. Gorman, 316 P.2d 543, 544-545 (Or. 1957) (finding alleged Scottish marriage not proven); Werden v. Thorpe, 867 P.2d 557, 560 (Or. Ct. App. 1994) (finding valid but voidable Mexican marriage).

Oregon law also grants a number of presumptions favorable to accepting the marriage here. The courts of Oregon presume a man and woman deporting themselves as husband and wife have entered into a valid contract of marriage. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (u). In Oregon, a document purporting to be executed in an official capacity by a person authorized by the laws of a foreign country to make the execution or attestation requires no further authentication. Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902 (1) (c), 40.510(3); see also § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (k). Thus, an original Copy of Particulars of Marriage would be self-authenticating in Oregon, because it is signed by appropriate officials. The authenticity could be strengthened with a certification by the New Zealand consulate, but that is not necessary, if the number holder has presented an original, official government document of New Zealand.

4. Conflicts between the Marriage Law of New Zealand and Oregon

Oregon does not recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or frustrates public policies of Oregon. See Garrett, 449 P.2d at 858 (1969); Beth A. A~, Comment, Same-sex Marriage: A Conflict-of-Laws Analysis for Oregon, 32 Willamette Law Review 619, 638-639 (Summer 1996). New Zealand accepts some marriages that are not acceptable in Oregon. Persons sixteen years of age can marry in New Zealand, but Oregon requires that persons to be married be at least seventeen years old. See Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.) § 17; Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.010. New Zealand does not prohibit marriages of first cousins. Marriage Act 1955 (N.Z.) Second Schedule. Oregon prohibits marriages of first cousins. Or. Rev. Stat. 106.020. New Zealand does not specifically prohibit or permit same sex marriage, as such, but does recognize same sex civil unions. Civil Union Act 2004 § 4. Persons in a civil union may change their form of relationship to a marriage if they are "otherwise eligible." Id. § 18(1). Nowhere in New Zealand's statutes is same sex marriage expressly forbidden. So, same sex marriage remains an ambiguous possibility in New Zealand. By contrast, in Oregon, same sex marriage is forbidden. See Li v. Oregon, 110 P.3d 91 (Or. 2005).

Absent any violation of Oregon law or frustration of public policy, such as would arise in the context of a same sex marriage, Oregon would probably recognize the New Zealand Particulars of Marriage document as proof of marriage. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 40.510 Rule 902 (1) (c), 40.510(3); see also § 40.135 Rule 311 (1) (k). Thus, here, you would need to be satisfied that Ms. B~ and Mr. N~ are of opposite sex; are age 17 or older; and are not first cousins. They can provide this information in a form acceptable to the field office.

In an earlier opinion concerning Oregon's recognition of a foreign marriage, we advised that the state probably would recognize a marriage in another commonwealth nation, the Bahamas. See Memorandum from Regional Chief Counsel Seattle, to Ass't Reg. Comm. - MOS, Seattle, Acceptance of Bahaman Marriage by Oregon for Purposes of Name Change (April 6, 2006). The same logic should apply to a marriage in the Commonwealth of New Zealand.

5.Name Change Could Follow Marriage

Considering the apparent validity of the marriage documents and assuming further inquiry bears out the validity of the marriage, a name change would probably be recognized by Oregon as a result of the marriage. Ms. B~'s new name can be derived from the marriage documents, which list the groom's last name as "N~." See POMS RM 00203.210 B.1.a. All states allow a bride to take the groom's last name. See id. As you note, POMS instructs that name changes based on foreign marriages depend on the law of the State where the number holder, who is a U.S. resident, resides. See id. at B.1.d and RM 00203.200 H.3.d. Oregon allows either party to a marriage to retain their prior surname or resume using their prior surname during the marriage. See Or. Rev. Stat. § 106.220.

CONCLUSION

It appears that, if SSA has received an original of the Copy of Particulars of Marriage and we can ascertain that the number holder, Ms. B~, and Mr. N~ are not first cousins, are at least 17 years old, and not the same sex, then the requested name change is supported by the documents provided by Ms. B~.


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PR 02706.041 - Oregon - 09/27/2012
Batch run: 09/27/2012
Rev:09/27/2012