(a) Proof of marriage. Marriage is established by one of the following types of evidence:
(1) Copy or abstract of the public record of marriage, or a copy of the church record of marriage, containing sufficient data to identify the parties, the date and place of marriage, and the number of prior marriages if shown on the official record.
(2) Official report from service department as to marriage which occurred while the veteran was in service.
(3) The affidavit of the clergyman or magistrate who officiated.
(4) The original certificate of marriage, if the Department of Veterans Affairs is satisfied that it is genuine and free from alteration.
(5) The affidavits or certified statements of two or more eyewitnesses to the ceremony.
(6) In jurisdictions where marriages other than by ceremony are recognized the affidavits or certified statements of one or both of the parties to the marriage, if living, setting forth all of the facts and circumstances concerning the alleged marriage, such as the agreement between the parties at the beginning of their cohabitation, the period of cohabitation, places and dates of residences, and whether children were born as the result of the relationship. This evidence should be supplemented by affidavits or certified statements from two or more persons who know as the result of personal observation the reputed relationship which existed between the parties to the alleged marriage including the periods of cohabitation, places of residences, whether the parties held themselves out as married, and whether they were generally accepted as such in the communities in which they lived.
(7) Any other secondary evidence which reasonably supports a belief by the Adjudicating activity that a valid marriage actually occurred.
(b) Valid marriage. In the absence of conflicting information, proof of marriage which meets the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section together with the claimant's certified statement concerning the date, place and circumstances of dissolution of any prior marriage may be accepted as establishing a valid marriage, provided that such facts, if they were to be corroborated by record evidence, would warrant acceptance of the marriage as valid. Where necessary to a determination because of conflicting information or protest by a party having an interest therein, proof of termination of a prior marriage will be shown by proof of death, or a certified copy or a certified abstract of final decree of divorce or annulment specifically reciting the effects of the decree.
(c) Marriages deemed valid. Where a surviving spouse has submitted proof of marriage in accordance with paragraph (a) of this section and also meets the requirements of § 3.52, the claimant's signed statement that he or she had no knowledge of an impediment to the marriage to the veteran will be accepted, in the absence of information to the contrary, as proof of that fact.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501)
Cross References:Marriages deemed valid. See § 3.52. Definitions; marriage. See § 3.1(j). Evidence of dependents and age. See § 3.204.