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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 102601
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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We got married 9/26/1981 in a Presbyterian church but the license

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We got married 9/26/1981 in a Presbyterian church but the license was not filed in city hall in phila. My husband is retiring and the pension will not be paid on his death to the wife. The church has copy of the application but city hall has no record after a search. As far as the pension fund we are not married and I am not entitled to benefits after 31 years of marriage. (We thought we were married)
Hello, my name is Ely. I am here to help you. There may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies as I type out a reply. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not to tell you what you necessarily wish to hear.

I am sorry for your situation. When you state "benefits," do you mean from the SSA? Or, are you trying to divorce? What is this in relation to?

This not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. I look forward to helping you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
We are married and not divorced the problem will arise if my husband dies - I do not have a marriage license to produce to receive one half of his pension (paid on his death). The pension department stated as far as they are concerned we are not married and I will not receive any benefit funds. My husband just received his first retirement check today.
My apologies for the wait - I am researching your question to get some nuanced information.
Again, my apologies for the wait.

At this point, you have one option - you have to file in the family court to have your marriage recognized, and get a Court order validating your marriage. While you do not have an official marriage per se, you have something called a "common law marriage."

In Pennsylvania, a common law marriage is recognized and receives the same benefits as a full marriage if both of you show up before the court after filing the petition and state that you have (1) believed yourselves to be married, (2) acted as such, and (3) made yourselves out to be a such to others. This is called "verba in praesenti." The marriage had to have occurred before 2005. 23 PA § 1103.

Once the court hears the testimony and considers the petition, it should render a judgment officiating the marriage and then that judgment should be as good as a marriage license.

The whole matter can actually be quite fast - executed within a two weeks or so. However, an attorney is highly recommended due to the nuances associated with filing such a petition. May I recommend the PA Bar Referral program...

...the attorneys are vetted and qualified and the service is free. Then you can cross-reference the name(s) on for client reviews, Bar history, and metrics.

Doing this, you should be able to find an attorney you are confident with and whom you can trust, and who is available ASAP.

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Ely and 2 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you so much for your advise and direction that we need to follow to solve this situation. This was quick and so easy - I got an answer in less than 30 mins. I was longer on the phone with city hall with no solution. Again that you - Mary
My pleasure, Mary. Good luck, and do use an attorney here for it will be much easier with one.