Neither Shank nor Molly possessed a Will. Shank petitions to be treated as Molly’s husband and named to be Administrator of her estate. On the other side, Moll’s family counters that they should receive all of Molly’s property because she and Shank were not married. Shank claims common law marriage due to the length of time they lived together in Michigan. It can be assumed that Michigan does recognize common law marriages, while New York does not. It can also be assumed that Shank and Molly’s common law marriage was valid under Michigan Law.
Issue The issue in our case is must the New York Surrogate’s court recognize Shank ND Molly’s common law marriage in Michigan, even though New York does not recognize common law marriage? Case Law Case 1: In the case of Merritt v. Chevrolet Downward Dive. , General Motors Corp.. , 377 N. Y. S. Id 663 (N. Y. App. Dive. Id Dept 1975) the Plaintiff filed suit when her spouse died as a result of a work related incident. The Plaintiff and the deceased were not legally married in the state of New York.
The Plaintiff was living with the deceased at the time of his death and she filed for surviving spousal benefits. The couple had applied for a marriage license in 1965 but it remained unused. The couple continued to live together from June 18, 2965 up until the time of the decedent’s death. However the couple never filed joint taxes not changed beneficiaries on insurance policies. The Claimant also remained using her maiden name and filed as a single woman.
Claimant also claimed that the couple lived in Ohio under common law marriage from 1968 to 1969. ORCA Ann. 3105. 12 states, “To establish a common-law marriage in Ohio there must be a showing of an agreement to marry in verbal De present by clear and convincing proof. Such proof may be by direct evidence of an express agreement, or by circumstances room which an agreement in present may be inferred. Such circumstantial proof may, by statute, be accepted to prove such a marriage in the discretion of the court. Initially the Board found the Plaintiff to be the lawful surviving spouse. However, on appeal the court had reversed the decision based on the lack of sufficient evidence. Merritt v. Chevrolet Downward Dive. , General Motors Corp.. , stated “The court found that the claimant’s proof did not rise to the level of substantial evidence sufficient to support a determination of the existence of a valid common-law marriage between the claimant and the deceased. Case 2: In the case of Skinner v. Skinner, 4 Miss. Id 1013 (N.
Y. Sup. Ct. 1956) the wife filed an action against her husband to determine the status of her marriage. While the husband was married to another woman, she was not a party to the suit at the time of the ceremony. After the divorce was final the couple continued to live and represent themselves as ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ therefore solidifying the entrance into common law marriage. The state of New York does not validate common law marriage, however the couple frequently traveled to Pennsylvania and Washington D.
C where common law marriages were valid and recognized. Based on this information New York was deemed to recognize the common law marriage of the couple and therefore the husband was not free to remarry. Case 3: In the case of In re Estate of Burke, 143 Miss. 268 (N. Y. Sure. Ct. 1932) the alleged widow applied for a decree revoking the letters of administration of respondent decedent’s brother. The decedent was a member of the fire department in Missouri, once retired the decedent moved in to reside with his brother in the state of New York.
The brother claimed that the decedent did not leave a widow. However, the widow claimed common law marriage in the state of Missouri. She aimed to revoke the brother’s letters based on false representation. The court considered the following facts: “(1) The decedent cohabited with the alleged widow in the same apartment with her mothers and brother; (2) she used the decedent’s name with his knowledge; and (3) the decedent introduced the alleged widow as his wife.
Thus, the court revoked the brother’s letters of administration. ” Based on those facts it was determined that the common-law marriage was legal in the state of New York and therefore the court granted the widows petition. Application to Our Case Shank and Molly had lived together within the state of Michigan for twelve years and represented themselves as husband and wife throughout that time period. The couple also had a joint bank account as well as both names on the apartment and car leases. In the case of Merritt v.
Chevrolet Downward Dive. , General Motors Corp.. , common law marriage was not recognized due to the lack of sufficient proof of common law marriage. The claimant was still filing as single as well as kept things separate. In the cases of In re Estate of Burke and Skinner v. Skinner the court recognized the common law marriages of the couples based n the provision of sufficient evidence. In both cases the couples cohabited as well as claimed to be husband and wife within sister states of New York.
Although New York does not validate common law marriages, in both In re Estate of Burke and Skinner v. Skinner, the court recognized the common law marriage based on the laws of those particular states. Conclusion After examination of the cases it can be concluded that New Work’s Surrogate’s court must recognize Shank and Molly’s common law marriage in Michigan even though New York does not recognize common law marriage.