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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 32927
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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I retired from an Ohio steel mill in 2011. My common

Customer Question

Hello; I retired from an Ohio steel mill in 2011. My common law wife left me one year later. The company lawyers tell me she cannot be removed as death beneficiary from my pension plan unless there is some "certified legal court document" stating such. Since we did not go through the court to be married, they tell me I have no way to remedy the situation. Is there a way?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 11 months ago.
Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms. How did they know she was your common law wife?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 11 months ago.
Also, in Ohio common law marriages are only valid if they were entered into prior to October 10, 1991. Did you and she agree to be married before that date?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thank you Dwayne;I am traveling by train today so please excuse the delay, the Wi-Fi coverage is very spotty.They knew she was my common-law wife because I supplied them with a private Christian Covenant of marriage document that we drew up And was signed by the pastor and two witnesses. We got married In February of 2008 so it was long after the cut off date.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
They had absolutely no problem with the document At the time it was supplied to them in 2008.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 11 months ago.
It wasn't a valid common law marriage then, regardless of what you supplied them because Ohio doesn't recognize common law marriages entered into after 10.10.91. The best thing to do is hire a local attorney to contact them and demand they release the pension and explain the law to them. Usually they would release it since the law doesn't support them. Best wishes to you and please don't forget to leave a Positive Rating (of course I’d suggest Excellent!) so I receive credit for my work
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I talked to company HR rep, they say all I can do is hire attorney to draft a "certified domestic relations order", but I will have to split death benefit with spouse in some way, rep was purposefully not specific, said she could not be removed as beneficiary, she would retain "some percentage" of any benefit upon my death.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ex spouse, that is...
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 11 months ago.
That would be true if she were a spouse and assuming that she didn't agree. However, the problem is that she can't, legally, be a spouse in Ohio if you were supposed to have gotten common law married in 2008 because it wasn't legal then.You definitely want to hire an attorney and just turn it over to them. They should be able to get it handled pretty quickly. When they contact your company the company will turn this over to their litigation department and the lawyers will know the law.