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VA Claims: Disabled Veterans Community|Hadit.com

Single Judge Application; common law marriage; 38 C.F.R. § 3.52; VA regulation recognizes that a common law marriage can be valid even in a jurisdiction that does not recognize such an arrangement;

VA Law

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UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR VETERANS CLAIMS
No. 19-3530
CIRIE LAFRENIERE, APPELLANT,
V.
ROBERT L. WILKIE,
SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS, APPELLEE.
Before GREENBERG, Judge.
MEMORANDUM DECISION
Note: Pursuant to U.S. Vet. App. R. 30(a),
this action may not be cited as precedent.
GREENBERG, Judge: The appellant pro se appeals an April 1, 2019, Board of Veterans’
Appeals decision that denied her recognition as the surviving spouse of Thomas E. LaFreniere for
the purpose of dependency and indemnity compensation. The appellant argues that although the
decision on appeal was made in accordance with law, the Board failed to properly consider the
evidence. Appellant’s Informal Brief at 3. Specifically, she contends that she and the veteran were
in a common law marriage and had a “deemed valid marriage.” Appellant’s Informal Brief at 3.
For the following reason, the Court will set aside the April 2019 Board decision and remand the
matter for readjudication.
Justice Alito noted in Henderson v. Shinseki that our Court’s scope of review in this appeal
is “similar to that of an Article III court reviewing agency action under the Administrative
Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. § 706.” 562 U.S. 428, 432 n.2 (2011); see 38 U.S.C. § 7261. The creation
of a special court solely for veterans, and other specified relations such as their widows, is
consistent with congressional intent as old as the Republic. See Hayburn’s Case, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.)
409, 410 n., 1 L. Ed. 436 (1792) (“[T]he objects of this act are exceedingly benevolent, and do real
honor to the humanity and justice of Congress.”). “The Court may hear cases by judges sitting
alone or


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