G. D. found a job in Texarkana, Texas, but after about six months he became one of the unemployed. At that point P.A. called H.R. and asked to add G.D. to her health insurance. That's where we came in. Someone in H.R., who will remain not only nameless but initialless (at least until he is forced to testify in a public hearing) made the change. Neither one really remembers if the H.R. person actually asked whether G.D. and P.A. were married. The paperwork is missing. The computer shows that they're married. The H.R. person was in our Snurdly, North Dakota office. It was all done by phone.
It is alleged that G.D. and P.A. agreed to be married, and held themselves out as being married. There is an allegation that she signed a friend's guestbook as P and A. D. There are allegations they told various friends in Texarkana that they were married.
So what? Well, Texas has this think called common law marriage. If a couple agree to be married, cohabit in Texas, and tell people they're married, that's enough for a common law marriage.
Well, G.D. and P.A. split up. P.A. was unquestionably the more financially stable of the two. G.D. ends up on the Arkansas side. He finds a job, but decides that he would like a little more cash. So he brings a divorce action in Miller County, Arkansas.
P.A., amazed to learn that she might have been married, is fighting the deal. Under Arkansas marital property law, G.D. would take a Good Deal of P.A.'s property acquired during the "marriage." P.A. is denying that a common law marriage ever occurred, and in the process raising all kinds of factual defenses.
One of the big questions is whether they ever held themselves out as man and wife to the public. Interestingly, the only evidence of holding out occurred in Arkansas. Arkansas doesn't recognize common law marriage. The call asking to put G.D. on the insurance plan was placed from the Bananaberry Phlogiston office in Arkansas, to someone in North Dakota. The guestbook signature was at a wedding that took place in Arkansas. This bar exam of a conflicts of law question has led to a subpoena to us for the "documentation" involving the addition of G.D. to P.A.'s insurance. Of course, our people can't find it. It's also led to a subpoena for testimony of our employee in North Dakota, who understandably would rather not testify. That's my role.
Jerome wanted me to update the blog. Here it is.
The moral: Never move to Texas.