which required him to leave for Louisiana. This required a decision as to their future. Of course they could have adopted the customary and usual form of marriage. They met the situation by effecting the unconventional ceremony. It is not difficult to recognize the embarrassment thus created for the plaintiff, her natural desire to avoid decedent's family and her inhibitions in her statements concerning her marriage, originating as it did in informality.
The claim made by plaintiff for her lost luggage and the failure of decedent to indicate that he was married on his employer's records both were lapses at a very early stage of the relationship that are readily accounted for.
The defendant has called to my attention a decision by the Camden District Court on November 10, 1942, in a case of this plaintiff against the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. There the court concluded that there was no marriage and that the plaintiff was not decedent's widow.
However, of equal standing before me is the decision of the Commissioner, on January 2, 1942, in the proceeding between this plaintiff and the defendant, before the New Jersey Department of Labor, Workmen's Compensation Bureau, in which he concluded "that a common law marriage existed between Reba Franzen and decedent, George Franzen, on April 17, 1937, that the marriage was made in New Jersey on that date, * * *". In dealing with this proceeding, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed the Commissioner on other grounds and found it unnecessary to consider this conclusion.
We, therefore, have two decisions by other trial courts, each opposed to the other on this question, and the choice is left entirely open.
A common law marriage in New Jersey is defined in the case of Jackson v. Jackson, 94 N.J.Eq. 233, 113 A. 495, 496, 118 A. 926, in the following language: "Marriage is a civil contract, and no ceremonial is indispensably requisite to its creation. Voorhees v. Voorhees' Ex'rs, 46 N.J.Eq. 411, 414, 19 A. 172, 19 Am.St.Rep. 404, affirmed, [Collins v. Voorhees], 47 N.J.Eq. 315, 20 A. 676, 14 L.R.A. 364, 24 Am.St.Rep. 412. Where there is no ceremonial marriage, there must be an agreement entered into between the man and the woman, in words of the present tense, to live together as husband and wife. There are probably but few instances of mutual consent, by which each party in precise or unambiguous terms takes the other as spouse, but no particular words are necessary to declare an intention to enter into a contract of marriage. If from what was said by the parties, aided by the circumstances surrounding their entering upon their relationship, it can be gathered that they proposed to enter into a contract thenceforth to live as husband and wife, it will be sufficient ( Stevens v. Stevens, 56 N.J.Eq. 488, 38 A. 460; Bey v. Bey, 83 N.J.Eq. 239, 90 A. 684; Schaffer v. Krestovnikow (Schaffer), 88 N.J.Eq. 192, 102 A. 246, affirmed 89 N.J.Eq. 549, 105 A. 239); and where it appears that such relationship is matrimonial, rather than illicit, cohabitation and reputation will justify the presumption that the parties came together under a mutual promise to live as husband and wife. Voorhees v. Voorhees' Ex'rs, supra; Wallace's Case, 49 N.J.Eq. 530, 25 A. 260; Mullaney v. Mullaney, 65 N.J.Eq. 384, 54 A. 1086."
It is my conclusion that plaintiff in this case contracted such a common law marriage in the state of New Jersey and that she is therefore entitled to judgment in this cause.
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