TN 1 (06-06)

PR 02706.053 Washington

A. PR 06-154 Acceptance of British Columbian Marriage by Washington for Purposes of Name Change - REPLY

DATE: June 1, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

The state of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place in British Columbia, Canada, as long as it is not contrary to the law or policies of Washington. Specifically, providing that the marriage is not between members of the same sex, does not constitute bigamy, does not violate consanguinity prohibitions (e.g., if the parties are first cousins), and meets legal age requirements (the party must not be under the age of minority or must have court approval), it is not contrary to state law and would be recognized.

Marriage is accepted as a legal name change event. A British Columbia Certificate of Marriage is proof that the event took place and would be acceptable evidence for SSA to process the name change, provided that the marriage met the previously mentioned criteria. The British Columbia Certificate of Marriage lists the date of birth for the parties and would fulfill the evidentiary standards stipulated in RM 00203.210. If the document meets the standards prescribed in GN 00301.030, the Certificate of Marriage would be acceptable evidence for a legal name change.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the State of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place in British Columbia, Canada, and then was registered in British Columbia, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Washington. If so, can SSA change the name of the number holder on SSA's records? You have also asked whether Washington's recognition of a Canadian marriage is dependent upon the Canadian province in which the individuals were married.

ANSWER

Yes, if it can be ascertained that the individuals who married in British Columbia, Kimberly M.~ H~ and Richard I.~ H~, are not first cousins and are not of the same sex, the State of Washington would likely recognize their marriage, as certified by the government of British Columbia. Because marriage is an accepted basis to change a name, SSA can change the name of a married number holder on SSA's records. Second, Washington's recognition of a Canadian marriage depends on the Canadian province in which the individual's were married because, although consanguinity and same sex marriage laws are the same across Canada, the legal age of majority varies among the provinces.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

Ms. H~ requested that we change her last name to H~, to reflect her recent marriage to Mr. H~. Ms. H~ presented a certified copy of a Certificate of Marriage from British Columbia attesting to her marriage to Mr. H~ on April 8, 2006. Both Ms. H~ and Mr. H~ are residents of the State of Washington.

ANALYSIS

I. The State of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place in British Columbia, Canada, and then was registered in British Columbia, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Washington.

A. Federal Law Regarding Spouse's Benefits

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 00203.210A.1. The requested name change must be supported by an acceptable identity document. Id. A document issued by a foreign government is acceptable as preferred proof of ceremonial marriage. See POMS GN 00305.020 A.4.

B. The British Columbia Marriage Appears Valid

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a certified true copy of the Certificate of Marriage entered "in the Ministry of Health Services Vital Statistics Agency." See 20 C.F.R. § 422.107 (general evidence requirements to establish identity). It is signed by the Chief Executive Officer of the Vital Statistics Agency and has a stamp affixed, satisfying the requirements of POMS GN 00301.030A.3. That POMS provision states "A certified photocopy is a photocopy of the original document in the custodian's possession to which the custodian affixes a signature, stamp, or seal attesting to the accuracy of the photocopy." 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 00307.001B.

The Certificate of Marriage states that Richard I.~ H~ and Kimberly M.~ H~ were married on April 8, 2006, in New Westminster, British Columbia. It lists the dates of birth and places of birth for both individuals. It also lists the Certificate's registration number and the date the marriage certificate was registered. It appears that the document presented by the number holder is sufficient preferred proof of a ceremonial marriage. Because we accept British Columbia's certification of the marriage, we accept that they have made certain that the couple complied with British Columbia's marriage laws prior to issuing the certificate. See POMS RM 00203.200H.3.d.

C. Washington Would Likely Recognize the Marriage, But Further Inquiry is Necessary

There are three apparent conflicts between the laws of Washington and British Columbia regarding marriage: age, sex, and consanguinity (relation by blood). In the present case, age does not appear to be a concern, as both Ms. H~ and Mr. H~ were over the age of 19 (the age of majority in British Columbia) on April 8, 2006. See British Columbia Marriage Act, § 28(1), available at http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/M/96282_01.htm. However, we need to establish that the parties are not related as first cousins or closer and are not of the same sex.

Washington looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See RCW 26.04.020(3); State v. Rivera, 95 Wn. App. 961, 966 (1999). Washington might choose not to recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or policies of Washington, specifically, if the marriage is between people of the same sex, constitutes bigamy, or violates consanguinity laws. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(3). Bigamy is prohibited in both Washington and Canada. See RCW 26.04.020(1)(a); Criminal Code of Canada, Offenses against Conjugal Rights, § 290, available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/c-46/267462.html. Canada's marriage laws differ from Washington's laws regarding age, consanguinity, and the requirement that a married couple consist of persons being of opposite sexes.

1. Age of Majority Differs Between Washington and British Columbia

The marriage laws of Washington and Canada conflict regarding the minimum age at which marriage is allowed, although that conflict is not relevant here. Washington allows persons aged eighteen years and older to marry. See RCW 26.04.010. With court approval and after a showing of necessity, Washington does allow marriage of minors. Id. British Columbia allows a person to marry at age sixteen with permission of a guardian, otherwise, at age 19, the age of majority. See Age of Majority Act, R.S.B.C. 1996 Ch. 7, § 1(1)(a) and (b); British Columbia Marriage Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, Ch. 282 § 28(1). Age is not a concern here, as the Certificate of Marriage lists Mr. H~' and Ms. H~' ages as over the minimum age for Washington and British Columbia.

2. Consanguinity Laws are More Restrictive in Washington

There is a conflict between Washington's and Canada's laws regarding the degree of consanguinity allowed between married individuals. Further inquiry is needed to determine if that conflict is relevant in this case. Washington's consanguinity law is more restrictive. It prohibits marriage between parties who are first cousins, whether of the whole or half blood. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(2). Canada's Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act of 1990, states that "[n]o person shall marry another person if they are related lineally, or as brother or sister or half-brother or half-sister, including by adoption." See Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act of 1990 § 2(2) available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/m-2.1/250729.html. Thus, Canada does not prohibit marriage between first cousins. A first cousin is defined as a child of one's aunt or uncle. See Black's Law Dictionary (8th Ed. 2004). To determine whether Washington would recognize the H~-H~ marriage, we need evidence, such as a declaration from Ms. H~ and Mr. H~, that the individuals are not first cousins.

3. Same Sex Marriage is Permitted in Canada.

The third condition that could cause Washington to refuse to recognize the H~-H~ marriage is that Canada permits marriages between same sex individuals, but Washington does not. See RCW 26.04.020(c); Civil Marriage Act, available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/note.html. Contrary to Washington law, Canada permits marriage between same sex individuals. See RCW 26.04.010 to .020; Civil Marriage Act of Canada, available at http://www.qp.gov.bc.ca/statreg/stat/M/96282_01.htm (enacted July 20, 2005). The parties would need to establish that they are of the opposite sex. Once it is established that the number holder is not the first cousin and not of the same sex as of Mr. H~, we can be confident that Washington would recognize their marriage.

D. 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 Washington as a result of the marriage. Ms. H~' new name can be derived from the marriage documents, which lists the groom's last name. See POMS RM 00203.210 B.1.a. All states allow a bride to take the groom's last name. 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 POMS RM 00203.200H.3.d and RM 00203.210B.1.a.

II. Washington's Recognition of a Canadian Marriage Depends upon the Age of Majority in the Canadian Province in which the Individuals were Married.

The laws regarding consanguinity and the legality of same sex marriage are the same across Canada because the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act of 199 and the Civil Marriage Act of 2005 are national laws. The age of majority differs among the provinces, as the table below illustrates:

Province                Age of Majority                         Provincial Law

Alberta                  18                 Age of Majority Act, Cl.A-6, § 1

Saskatchewan        18                 Age of Majority Act, Ch. A-6 § 2 (1)

Manitoba               18                 Age of Majority Act, Ch. A-7, § 1

Ontario                  18                 Age of Majority and Accountability Act, Ch. A7, § 1

Quebec                 18                 Civil Code of Quebec, Title 4, Ch. 1, Div. 1

Prince Edward Island    18             Age of Majority Act, Ch. A-8, § 1

New Brunswick           19             Age of Majority Act, Ch. A-4, § 1

Nova Scotia                 19             Age of Majority Act, C. 4, § 1

Newfoundland              19             Age of Majority Act, Ch. A-4, § 2

Nunavut                       19             Age of Majority Act, § 2

Northwest Territories     19             Age of Majority Act, c. A-2

Yukon Territory             19             Age of Majority Act, § 1(1)

British Columbia            19             British Columbia Marriage Act, § 28(1)

CONCLUSION

Further inquiry is warranted to determine whether Mr. H~ and Ms. H~: (1) are first cousins or closer relations; and (2) are of the same sex. If they are not, then Washington would recognize their marriage in British Columbia as valid and a name change based on that marriage would be permissible.

B. PR 06-147 Acceptance of Australian Marriage by Washington for Purposes of Name Change - REPLY

DATE: May 9, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

The state of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place in Australia as long as it is not contrary to Washington state law or policy. Specifically, providing that the marriage is not between members of the same sex, does not constitute bigamy, does not violate consanguinity prohibitions, and meets legal age requirements, it is not contrary to state law and would be recognized. Washington accepts marriage as a legal name change event. Thus, if a marriage performed in Australia meets the above mentioned requirements, SSA can process a name change of a married number holder. An Australian Certificate of Marriage attesting to the marriage would be an acceptable document for the name change, providing that it meets standards prescribed in GN 00301.030. The number holder may also need to submit identity documents as stipulated in RM 00203.210.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

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

SHORT ANSWER

Yes, the State of Washington would likely recognize the marriage of Stephen E~ and Susan T~, if it can be ascertained that: (1) Mr. E~ and Ms. T~ are not first cousins or closer relations; (2) Mr. E~ is not Ms. T~'s father's brother, mother's brother, son, brother, son's son, daughter's son, brother's son, or sister's son; and (3) Ms. T~ is not Mr. E~' father's sister, mother's sister, daughter, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, brother's daughter or sister's daughter. Because marriage is an accepted basis to change a name, the SSA can change the name of a married number holder on the SSA's records.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Susan T~ requested that SSA change her last name to E~ to reflect her marriage to Stephen E~. Ms. T~ presented a Certificate of Marriage from Australia attesting to her marriage to Mr. E~ on February 2, 2002, in that country. Both Ms. T~ and Mr. E~ are residents of Washington.

ANALYSIS

A number holder's name may be changed on the 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 00203.210A.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 00305.020A.4.

1. The Australian Marriage Appears Valid

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a certified true copy of a Certificate of Marriage attesting to the marriage of Ms. T~ and Mr. E~ in Australia See 20 C.F.R. § 422.107 (general evidence requirements to establish identity). The copy of the Certificate has affixed to it a signature and stamp attesting that the original document of which it is a photocopy of appears to be genuine and unaltered and to have been made at the time purported, 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 00307.001B.

The Certificate states that Stephen E~ and Susan T~ were married February 2, 2002, at Airlie Beach, Queensland, Australia. The certificate bears the Australian Coat of Arms and the signatures of the bride, groom, two witnesses, and a celebrant.

Australia allows lawful marriages to be solemnized, and thus recognized by the government, by authorized celebrants. See Australia Marriage Act of 1961, Part IV, Division 2, § 41. It would appear that the document the number holder presented is sufficient preferred proof of a ceremonial marriage.

2. Washington Would Likely Recognize the Marriage, But Further Inquiry is Necessary

Washington looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See RCW 26.04.020(3); State v. Rivera, 95 Wn. App. 961, 966 (1999). However, Washington might choose not to recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or policies of Washington, specifically if the marriage is not between a male and female, constitutes bigamy, or violates the consanguinity (relation by blood) prohibitions. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(3).

There is a conflict between Washington's and Australia's laws regarding the degree of consanguinity allowed between married couples. Washington's consanguinity law is more restrictive. It prohibits marriage between: parties who are closer in relation than second cousins, whether of the whole or half blood computing by the rules of the civil law; a man and his father's sister, mother's sister, daughter, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, brother's daughter or sister's daughter; and a woman and her father's brother, mother's brother, son, brother, son's son, daughter's son, brother's son or sister's son. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(2). In contrast, Australia does not prohibit marriage between first cousins. A first cousin is defined as a child of one's aunt or uncle. See Black's Law Dictionary (8th Ed. 2004). In Australia, prohibited marital relationships include marriages between: a person and an ancestor or descendant of the person; a brother and a sister (whether of the whole blood or the half-blood); and adoptive parent and adoptive child. See Australia Marriage Act of 1961, Part III, Division 2, § 23B(1)(b), (2), (3). Adopted, in relation to a child, means adopted under the law of any place (whether in or out of Australia) relating to the adoption of children. Id., at § 23B(6). Ancestor, in relation to a person, means any person from whom the firstmentioned person is descended including a parent of the firstmentioned person. Id.

Thus, to determine that Washington would recognize the E~-T~ marriage, we need to determine that: (1) Mr. E~ and Ms. T~ are not first cousins or closer relations; (2) Mr. E~ is not Ms. T~'s father's brother, mother's brother, son, brother, son's son, daughter's son, brother's son, or sister's son; and (3) Ms. T~ is not Mr. E~' father's sister, mother's sister, daughter, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, brother's daughter or sister's daughter. Once it is established that Mr. E~ and Ms. T~ are not persons who can be considered to fall within these three prohibited categories, then we can be confident that Washington would recognize the marriage.

There do not appear to be other conditions present that might cause Washington to refuse to recognize the marriage. Consistent with Washington, Australia does not permit marriage between persons of the same sex. RCW 26.04.010(1) ("marriage is a civil contract between a male and a female who have each attained the age of eighteen years, and who are otherwise capable."); RCW 26.04.020(1)(c) (marriage prohibited when the parties are persons other than a male and a female); Australia Marriage Act of 1961, Part I, § 5(1) ("marriage means the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life."). Similarly, in both Washington and Australia, a person is of marriageable age if the person has attained the age of 18 years. See RCW 26.04.010(1); See Australia Marriage Act of 1961, Part II § 11. However, certain exceptions to the marriageable age requirement do exist in both Washington and Australia. See RCW 26.04.010(2); See Australia Marriage Act of 1961, Part II § 12. Legal age and the same sex do not appear to be issues in this case.

3. 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 Washington as a result of the marriage. Ms. T~'s new name can be derived from the marriage documents, which list 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 id. at B.1.d and RM 00203.200H.3.d. Although there is no Washington statute that directly states that a bride may take a groom's last name, RCW 26.09.150 allows either party, upon dissolution of the marriage, to have a former name restored. Therefore, Washington recognizes the parties' rights to change their surnames to that of their spouse upon marriage.

CONCLUSION

Further inquiry is warranted to determine whether: (1) Mr. E~ and Ms. T~ are not first cousins or closer relations; (2) Mr. E~ is not Ms. T~'s father's brother, mother's brother, son, brother, son's son, daughter's son, brother's son, or sister's son; and (3) Ms. T~ is not Mr. E~' father's sister, mother's sister, daughter, sister, son's daughter, daughter's daughter, brother's daughter or sister's daughter. If they are not, then Washington would recognize the marriage in Australia as valid and a name change based on that marriage would be permissible.

C. PR 06-146 Acceptance of Bermudian Marriage by Washington for Purposes of Name Change - REPLY

DATE: May 4, 2006

1. SYLLABUS

The state of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place in Bermuda, or aboard a Bermuda flagged sea-going vessel, as long as it is not contrary to Washington state law or policy. Specifically, providing that the marriage is not between members of the same sex, does not constitute bigamy, does not violate consanguinity prohibitions and meets legal age requirements; such a marriage is not contrary to state law and would be recognized.

Washington accepts marriage as a legal name change event. A Bermuda Certificate of Marriage attests that the name change event has taken place and that the marriage meets the above mentioned requirements. Thus, SSA can process a name change of a married number holder, who is a resident of the state of Washington, who presents a Bermuda Certificate of Marriage as evidence, providing that it meets standards prescribed in GN 00301.030. The number holder may also need to submit identity documents in addition to the name change document as stipulated in RM 00203.210.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

You have asked whether the State of Washington would recognize a marriage that took place on board a Bermuda flagged ship at sea, a marriage that was subsequently registered in Bermuda, to support a legal name change for a number holder domiciled in Washington. If so, can SSA change the name of the number holder on SSA's records?

SHORT ANSWER

Yes, if it can be ascertained that Stephen W~ and Karen G~ are not first cousins, the State of Washington would likely recognize their marriage, as certified by the government of Bermuda, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. 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

Karen A. G~ requested we change her last name to W~ to reflect her recent marriage to Stephen G. W~. Ms. G~ presented a Certificate of Marriage from Bermuda attesting to her marriage to Mr. W~ on July 24, 2005, aboard the MV Diamond Princess, a Bermuda flagged sea-going vessel. Both Ms. G~ and Mr. W~ are residents of Washington.

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 00203.210A.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 00305.020A.4.

1. The Bermuda Marriage Appears Valid

You have provided us with an apparently genuine and unaltered copy of a certified true copy of the Certificate of Marriage entered "in the Registry of Maritime Marriages maintained in the Registry General of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the Bermuda or Somers Islands." See 20 C.F.R. § 422.107 (general evidence requirements to establish identity). It is signed by the Registrar General and has a seal affixed, satisfying the requirements of POMS GN 00301.030A.3. That POMS provision states "A certified photocopy is a photocopy of the original document in the custodian's possession to which the custodian affixes a signature, stamp, or seal attesting to the accuracy of the photocopy." 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 00307.001B.

That Certificate states that Stephen W~ and Karen G~ were married July 24, 2005, aboard the MV Diamond Princess. The certificate indicates the ship was at sea when the marriage occurred, the Marriage Officer was Captain Attilio G~, and it bears the Bermudian Coat of Arms. It lists the names of two witnesses. It also lists residential addresses for the bride and groom as Camas, Washington.

Bermuda allows lawful marriages to be conducted on board Bermuda flagged ships by designated officials. See Bermuda Maritime Marriage Act of 1999 generally and at § 15(3), available at http://www.bermudalaws.bm/. It would appear that the document the number holder presented is sufficient preferred proof of a ceremonial marriage. Because we are accepting Bermuda's certification of the marriage, we are accepting that they have ensured the couple complied with Bermuda's marriage laws prior to issuing the certificate. See POMS RM 00203.200H.3.d.

2. Washington Would Likely Recognize the Marriage, but Further Inquiry is Necessary

There are two apparent conflicts between the laws of Washington and Bermuda regarding marriage: age and relation. In the present case, age does not appear to be a concern. However, we need to establish that the parties are not related by consanguinity.

Washington looks to the law of the jurisdiction certifying the marriage to determine the marriage's validity. See RCW 26.04.020(3); State v. Rivera, 95 Wn. App. 961, 966 (1999). However, Washington might choose not to recognize a foreign marriage if it is contrary to the law or policies of Washington, specifically if the marriage is not between a male and female, constitutes bigamy, or violates the consanguinity (relation by blood) prohibitions. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(3). Other than age and consanguinity, Bermuda's laws regarding marriage do not appear to conflict with Washington's. Consistent with Washington, it does not appear that Bermuda permits marriage between persons of the same sex. See RCW 26.04.010(1); RCW 26.04.020(1)(c); Bermuda Marriage Act of 1944 at §§ 23(4) & 24(1)(b); Bermuda Maritime Marriage Act of 1999 at § 15(1)(b). Bigamy is prohibited in both Washington and Bermuda. See RCW 26.04.020(1)(a); Bermuda Criminal Code Act 1907 at § 201. According to the Certificate of Marriage, Ms. G~ is a widow and Mr. W~ is divorced.

The marriage laws of Washington and Bermuda conflict regarding the minimum age at which marriage is allowed. However, that conflict is not relevant in the present case. Washington allows persons aged eighteen years and older to marry. See RCW 26.04.010. With court approval and after a showing of necessity, Washington does allow marriage of minors. See id. Bermuda allows a person to marry at age sixteen. See Bermuda Marriage Act of 1944 at § 28(1)(d). In the present case age is not a concern as the Certificate of Marriage lists the parties' ages as over the minimum age for Washington.

There is a conflict between Washington's and Bermuda's laws regarding the degree of consanguinity allowed between married couples. Further inquiry is needed to determine if that conflict is relevant in the present case. Washington's consanguinity law is more restrictive. It prohibits marriage between parties who are first cousins, whether of the whole or half blood. See RCW 26.04.020(1)-(2). In contrast, Bermuda has adopted the law in force in England regarding such limitations. See Bermuda Marriage Act of 1944 § 28(1)(b). Currently, England does not prohibit marriage between first cousins. See UK Marriage Act 1949 § 1 and schedule 1 available at http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/cedir/cedir/Lex-doc/Uk_Mar-Act49.pdf; Bart R~, Comment, Putting Cyber Weddings and Aquatic Nuptials in their Wider Context, 32 Hong Kong Law Journal 1, 8 (2002); and Interdepartment Committee on Reform of Marriage Law, Discussion Paper No. 5, § 5 and Appendix 1 (September 2004) available at http://www.groireland.ie/docs/marriagelaw_discussion_paper_no5.pdf. Thus, to determine that Washington would recognize the G~-W~ marriage, we need to determine that the individuals are not first cousins. A first cousin is defined as a child of one's aunt or uncle. See Black's Law Dictionary (8th Ed. 2004).

England, and therefore Bermuda, has more restrictive laws regarding affinity than Washington. For instance, England prohibits a person from marrying the parent or child of a former spouse. See UK Marriage Act 1949 § 1 and schedule 1. Because Bermuda is more restrictive than Washington regarding the degree of affinity allowed, and because we are relying on Bermuda's certification of the marriage, whatever affinity might exist between Ms. G~ and Mr. W~ would not affect the validity of their marriage in Washington.

There do not appear to be other conditions present that might cause Washington to refuse to recognize the marriage. Once it is established that the number holder is not the first cousin of Mr. W~, we can be confident that Washington would recognize the marriage.

3. 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 Washington as a result of the marriage. Ms. G~'s new name can be derived from the marriage documents, which list 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.; see also RCW 26.09.150 (allowing a divorcee to restore their former name). 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 00203.200 H.3.d and RM 00203.210B.1.a.

CONCLUSION

It appears that, if it can be ascertained that the number holder and Mr. W~ are not first cousins, then Washington would recognize the marriage on board a Bermuda flagged vessel at sea and a name change based on that marriage would be permissible.


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PR 02706.053 - Washington - 03/18/2010
Batch run: 02/02/2011
Rev:03/18/2010