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Frances PerkinsFrances Perkins
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It's very hard to tell whether a particular common law marriage is a legal marriage or not. Those cases are always coming up in property cases. I read all that John W. Wigmore had to say on evidence and all that two or three other great writers on marriage law had to say. I plunged ahead into these common law cases. Some of them were very appealing.

I remember the particular case that I made the decision on and that made new law on the subject. It was a case of a man who had lived with this woman for years. For some reason or other - differences of religious views and background, differences of responsibility and I think a kind of laziness on his part - they had never been ceremonially married. But they had been living together for years. In the community the neighbors supposed they were married. Nobody ever asked them if they were married. Everybody assumed they were married. She used his name. She was known as Mrs. Jones, or whatever her name was. She was, to all intents and purposes, his wife. She took good care of him. She was a nice woman. She had two children, brought them up well, sent them to school. Everything was all right, everything was fine until he was killed in a boiler explosion in the place where he was employed.

Then, of course, the company treated her as his widow,

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