PR 06310.049 Utah

A. PR 09-171 Type of Annulment and the Effective Date of Annulled Marriage in the State of Oregon

DATE: May 22, 2009

1. SYLLABUS

The parties married in Utah but an Oregon court entered the judgment of annulment. Generally the law of the place in which the marriage occurred determines the validity of the marriage. Under Utah and Oregon law a marriage is void when one party is already married. Therefore, the marriage was void under the laws of either State and surviving mother's benefits should be reinstated.

2. OPINION

QUESTION

Whether a marriage is “void” or “voidable,” for purposes of determining an individual’s entitlement to reinstatement of surviving mother’s benefits, when one party to the marriage is already married. The parties were married in Utah and an Oregon court entered a judgment of annulment.

SHORT ANSWER

A marriage is void under Utah and Oregon law when one party is already married. Therefore, surviving mother’s benefits should be reinstated as of the month of the prior termination of benefits.

SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE

Ms. H received surviving mother’s benefits on the record of her deceased spouse, Mr. H, after his death in February 2002. She received benefits through January 2008, when the benefits terminated due to her marriage to Mr. C on February 15, 2008, in Utah. In September 2008, an Oregon court entered a judgment of annulment on the ground that the marriage was void because Mr. C was married to another woman. The court also awarded spousal support in the amount of $400.00 per month for a period of twelve months for Ms. H’s lost surviving mother’s benefits.

ANALYSIS

For purposes of reinstating benefits previously terminated because of remarriage, the agency distinguishes between marriages that are “voidable” and marriages that are “void” under applicable state law. Program Operations Manual System (POMS) GN 00305.130, 00305.125. A “void” marriage is “a marriage which is legally nonexistent from the beginning under State law, with or without a judicial decree.” POMS GN 00305.125. Benefits previously terminated because of remarriage that is determined to be void are reinstated as of the month of the prior termination. POMS GN 00305.125.

In this matter, the parties married in Utah, but an Oregon court entered the judgment of annulment. Ordinarily, the law of the place in which the marriage occurred determines the validity of the marriage. POMS GN 00305.005. In Utah, a marriage is void when there is a husband or wife living, from whom the person marrying has not been divorced. Utah Code Ann. § 30-1-2. Similarly such a marriage is also “void from the beginning” under Oregon law. Or. Rev. Stat. §§ 106.020(1), 107.005(1). Accordingly, the marriage was void under the laws of either state. Therefore, Ms. H’s surviving mother’s benefits should be reinstated as of February 2008, the month of termination.

CONCLUSION

It is our opinion that Ms. H’s marriage to Mr. C was void under Utah and Oregon law. Her surviving mother’s benefits should be reinstated effective February 2008.

B. PR 79-012 Annulment of a Marriage Contracted in Utah -- Debbie L. L~ SSN ~

DATE: May 8, 1979

1. SYLLABUS

A marriage contracted in the State of Utah by Social Security beneficiary, Debbie L~ to Nell J~ and subsequently annulled by a Michigan state court based on fraud in obtaining parental consent to marry is voidable. (L~ , Debbie L. -- SSN ~-- RA VIII (B~) to RC, SSA - 5/8/79)

2. OPINION

The Great Lakes Program Service Center has requested our opinion concerning Utah law as to whether the marriage contracted in the State of Utah by Social Security beneficiary, Debbie L~ to Neil J~ and subsequently annulled by a Michigan state court, was void or voidable.

We have reviewed the materials which were provided us. At the time of her marriage, April 25, 1977, Debbie, a resident of Michigan, was fourteen years old. Debbie obtained her annulment on April 14, 1978. The decree of annulment entered by a Michigan state court was based on fraud in obtaining parental consent to marry. At issue is the date of Debbie's re-entitlement to child's benefits under the Social Security Act, which hinges on whether her marriage is determined to be void or voidable. We have determined that her marriage was voidable for reasons stated hereafter.

The Great Lakes Program Service Center's request states that the courts of Michigan apply the principle that the law of the State where the contract was entered into, Utah in this case, governs the marriage contract including annulments. This appears to be correct. See Memorandum, "OASI - Michigan - Ordinary Coverage - Samuel H~ ," D-3825, RA V (C~) to GC, OASI, May 29, 1978 (OD 0400). We assume that this principle was followed by the court which granted the annulment, and in view of the limited nature of the question posed, we assume that the decree was valid in determining claimant's entitlement to reinstatement of benefits. See Memorandum, "Henry C. G~ , D-6891, RA IX (M~) to GC, OASI, November 16, 1961 (OD 0500).

Section 30-1-2 of the Utah Code Ann. (1953) lists those marriages prohibited and void in the State of Utah. Although the section was recently amended, l_/ at the time Debbie was married it included the following provision:

The following marriages are prohibited and declared void:

. . . .

(4) When at the time of marriage the male is under 16 or the female is under 14 years of age.

(Emphasis supplied.) Utah Code Ann. (1953 § 30-1-2. Although the 1977 amendment to section 30-1-2 of the Utah Code Ann., supra, be- came effective on July 15, 1977, it does not apply in Debbie's case because it follows the date of her marriage on April 25, 1977. Utah has enacted, in its statues, the long established rule that rights are determined on the basis of the law as it existed at the time of the occurrence of an act, in this case marriage; and a later statute or amendment cannot be applied in a retroactive manner to deprive a party of her rights or impose greater liability upon her. See e.g., Section 68-3-3, Utah Code Ann. (1953), Okland Construction Company v. Industrial Commission, 520 P.2d 208 (Utah, 1974), and Industrial Commission v. Agee, 56 Utah 63, 189 P. 414 (1920).

Therefore, because Debbie was 14 years of age at the time of her marriage, and the age limitation imposed by the 1977 amendment does not apply, her marriage is not void and prohibited within § 30-1-2 of the Utah Code Ann. (1953). However, in the State of Utah, a marriage procured through fraud, as determined by the Michigan court in the instant case, is voidable and subject to annulment. See Memorandum., "0ASI, Orlin L. C~," D-11502, RA VIII (D~) to GC, OASI,

Also relevant here is section 30-1-9 of the Utah Code Ann. (1953), which states that:

If at the time of applying for license the male is under 21 or the female under 18 years of age, and not before married, no license shall be issued without the consent of his or her father, mother or guardian, personally given or certified in writing to the clerk over his or her signature, acknowledged before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. 2_/

We assume that the consent to which the Michigan court referred is that required by the Utah licensing statute, above. 3_/

l_/ Section 30-1-2 was amended by the First Special Session of the 42d Legislature of Utah to read as follows:

The following marriages are prohibited and declared void:

(4) When the male or female is under sixteen years of age unless consent is obtained as provided in section 30-1-9.

(5) When the male or female is under 14 years of age.

The amendment was approved and took effect on July 15, 1977. See, Ch. l, section l, 1977 Utah Laws (1st. Special Session).

2_/ Section 30-1-9 of the Utah Code Ann. (1953) was amended in 1977, and states that:

If at the time of applying for license the male or the female is under eighteen years of age, and not before married, no license shall be issued without the consent of his other father, mother or guardian, personally given or certified in writing to the clerk over his other signature, acknowledged before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths.

Utah Code Ann., 1977 Pocket Supplement, effective May 10, 1977. See Ch. 122, section 3, 1977 Utah Laws (42d Regular Session).

3_/ In State v. Stewart, 47 Utah 224, 193 P. 855 (1920), the Supreme Court of Utah determined that when marriage licenses are issued to parties under age without the written consent of the parents or guardian, the marriage is not absolutely void unless the male is under 16 or the female is under 14 years of age. (Comp. Laws Utah 1917, § 2967). In that case, the marriage of a 16-year-old female minor, obtained without written parental consent was not void.


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PR 06310.049 - Utah - 09/22/2009
Batch run: 09/22/2009
Rev:09/22/2009