20 CFR 404.1104
Claimant, W, filed an application for widow's insurance benefits as the widow of R, the worker. The evidence established that on February 10, 1967, a Texas trial (divorce) court orally granted W a divorce from R, and so entered it on the court docket. The worker died in June 1967. The judgment of divorce had never been reduced to writing and signed by the court. In August 1969 a Texas Court of Civil Appeals, pursuant to a motion of the claimant dismissed the divorce action and set aside the docket entry of February 10, 1967, on the basis that no written judgement had been entered in the action.
The question of whether W is entitled to widow's insurance benefits depends on whether her marriage to R was terminated by a divorce before his death. (Under certain circumstances, not pertinent here, a surviving divorced wife may qualify for widow's insurance benefits. See SSR's 67-18, C.B. 1967, p.33 and 67-55, C.B. 1967, p.39.)
The pertinent part of Vernon's Annotated Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, rule 306a, provides:
Furthermore, rule 164 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, supra, provides:
A situation, similar to the facts in the instant claim, was considered by the Supreme Court of Texas in Dunn v. Dunn, 439 S.W.2d 830, 833, 834 (Tex. 1969. There the wife sought a divorce, the matter was heard, an oral pronouncement made by the court, and the defendant husband died prior to the signing of the judgment. The court stated:
Turning to the question of whether the matter before the trial (divorce) court had become moot due to the death of a party, thereby justifying dismissal, the court said:
Since it thus appears that the order of dismissal of the Court of Civil Appeals was not supported by Texas law and was contrary to the holding of the Texas Supreme Court in a similar case, it was ineffective to restore W's marital status. Accordingly, W was granted an effective divorce from the date noted on the docket sheet of the trial court; therefore, it is held that W's relationship as R's wife was terminated on such date and she is not entitled to widow's insurance benefits.
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