Workers Compensation Death Benefits for Common Law Marriages
In the recent appellate division case of Kehoe v. Ultralum the court outlined New Jersey worker compensation death benefits for common law marriages. The Judge of Compensation denied petitioner’s application for benefits as decedent’s surviving spouse under N.J.S.A. 34:15-13(f), because she was not lawfully married to decedent at the time of his death through a legally recognized and licensed ceremony of marriage, and the Legislature in New Jersey has proscribed common law marriages. Crowe v. De Gioia, 90 N.J. 126, 132; N.J.S.A. 37:1-10.
The Judge of Compensation also rejected petitioner’s argument that New Jersey was bound to recognize and give full faith and credit to her common law marriage in Texas.
In support of this argument, petitioner claimed that during a two-week visit to Texas in 2004, she and decedent established the elements necessary to create a common law marriage under Texas law by:
- Agreeing that they were then married;
- Cohabitation as husband and wife; and
- Representing to others that they were husband and wife.