Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

1 Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law 259 (1982)


The case of Fidel Ochoa Urquijo (deceased), Rosa Elda Velasquez (alleged widow) et al. v. Reidhead Enterprises and State Compensation Fund, decided by the Industrial Commission of Arizona in 1981, considers whether a woman, recognized as a surviving concubine under the laws of the Republic of Mexico, is entitled to widow's benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act of the State of Arizona (the Arizona Act) upon the death of her Mexican national "husband, " when that death arose out of and in the course of his legal employment with an Arizona employer. Under Mexican law, a surviving concubine of an existing concubinage is entitled to receive the same survival benefits as a woman legally married to the deceased at the, time of death. Based solely upon the wording of the birth certificates of the deceased's two children (born of different mothers) which described the eldest as "legitimate "and the claimant's child as "natural", the administrative law judge ruled that the deceased was presumed to be married to the mother of the eldest child and found no documentary proof of the dissolution of this marriage. Since by Mexican law a state of concubinacy cannot arise if there is a prior existing marriage, the judge ruled that there was no subsequent, valid concubinage between the claimant and the deceased in the Republic of Mexico; the claimant was, therefore, entitled to no benefits. The judge considered two further arguments in the case. First, he concluded that a Mexican concubine could not be equated with a "widow, spouse or wife" of a deceased employee under the Arizona Act, even though a common-law marriage, valid in the jurisdiction where consummated, is recognized as valid in Arizona for the purposes of the Arizona Act. Secondly, it was determined that a valid concubinage offends the public policy of the State of Arizona, primarily because it lacks the stability of both a ceremonial marriage and a recognized common-law marriage since, under Mexican law, a concubinage is terminable at the will of either of the parties. Because this case was not appealed beyond the level of the administrative law judge, these issues are both unresolved and unreported in the State of Arizona.