The Claimant Is Not Validly Married to the NH under Netherlands Law.
Under the law of the District of Columbia, the validity of a marriage is determined
by the law of the jurisdiction where the marriage was entered into. See McConnell v. McConnell, 99 F. Supp. 493, 494 (D.D.C. 1951); Carr v. Varr, 82 F. Supp. 398 (D.D.C. 1949); Gerardi v. Gerardi, 69 F. Supp. 296 (D.D.C. 1946). Here, the claimant alleges she lived together with the NH in a “registered partnership”
in the Netherlands. We therefore consider whether the claimant and the NH were validly
married under Netherlands law.
Netherlands law recognizes three types of union between two persons of the same or
opposite sex: a “marriage,” a “registered partnership,” or a “cohabitation agreement.”
The rules defining marriage are contained in book 1 of the Civil Code. See Bk. 1, Tit. 1.5, Law of Persons & Family Law, DUTCH CIVIL CODE (in effect on Jan.
1, 1970, as updated to Feb. 4, 2014), http://www.dutchcivillaw.com/civilcodebook01.htm, archived at http://perma.cc/F6UM-8A8V, Boek 1 [Book 1] [BURGERLUK WETBOEK] [BW] [CIVIL CODE], as amended, http://wetten.overheid.nl/BWBR0002656/Boek1/geldigheidsdatum_19-11-2015, archived at http://perma.cc/YM3P-AYPR (last visited Mar. 8, 2016). The Civil Code prescribes numerous formalities and procedures
that must be observed before a certificate of marriage will be issued. See id.
Registered partnerships are governed by title 1.5A of book 1 of the Civil Code. See supra. Like a marriage, a registered partnership comes into being only if the parties observe
statutorily prescribed formalities and procedures, many of which are the same as those
required for entry into a marriage. See supra. A Certificate of Registered Partnership constitutes proof of the existence of the
registered partnership. Bk. 1, tit. 1.5A, art. 1.80a(8).
A cohabitation agreement, unlike a marriage or registered partnership, is governed
by general contract law. Marriage, Registered Partnerships and Cohabitation Agreements, GOVERNMENT.JL, https://www.government.nl/topics/family-law/contents/marriage-registered-partnership-and-cohabitation-agreements, archived at http://perma.cc/547B-FLZ4 (last visited Mar. 8, 2016). No legislative provisions specifically regulate cohabitation
contracts. See id.
In the claim at issue, there are no allegations or evidence that the claimant and
the NH followed the necessary procedures to become married under the Civil Code. Rather,
the Certificate of Registered Partnership is evidence that the parties entered into
a similar but legally distinct relationship—a registered partnership. Because the
claimant and the NH entered into a registered partnership, rather than a marriage,
the claimant would not be considered validly married to the NH under Netherlands law.
Accordingly, the claimant cannot qualify as the NH’s spouse on the basis of a valid
marriage. See Act § 216(h)(1)(A)(i); 20 C.F.R. § 404.345.