Man, woman marry again to set the record straight

November 19, 1992|By Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Al and Lila Davis have bee married for 46 years -- or so they thought.

They could clearly remember the wedding, a small ceremony at the New York City home of Lila Davis' parents. And they clearly remember receiving a certificate from the family rabbi certifying a Jewish wedding.

But it wasn't until six years ago, when they sought a duplicate copy of their marriage certificate, that they learned that the rabbi had never submitted their marriage license and that there was no official record of the wedding.

Yesterday, the Davises, of Boca Raton, set the record straight and tied the knot again six days before celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary.

"We decided that the best thing to do really was get married again to avoid problems with Social Security," Lila Davis said.

The nuptials, Al Davis said, were spurred by a television show he saw Tuesday, in which couples who had not married were explaining financial problems that resulted.

"It was an awakening," Al Davis said. "So I thought, God forbid I should go before my wife. She wouldn't get any of my benefits or Social Security.

"My wife came in, and I said, 'Tomorrow, we're going to get married.' "

The wedding should put an end to some good-natured kidding they have endured from their friends.

"When they heard about it, they said, 'You better get married; you're living in sin,' " Lila Davis said.

Well, not exactly, according to New York state officials.

"We're not saying they weren't married," said Peter Carucci, the director of vital records for the state of New York. "What we're saying is that there was no official record."

Lila Davis said they discovered the mistake when she retired from American Express six years ago and tried to transfer medical benefits.

Al Davis said it would have been difficult to verify their marriage license because the rabbi had died, and other witnesses would have been difficult to track down.

But they resolved the benefits problem when they showed American Express officials their wedding album. They figured they would never need a license.

"We didn't even give it a thought," Lila Davis said. "We were married for 40 years; we have two sons, one grandchild and one on the way."

But Al Davis said that when he learned that New York, like Florida, does not recognize common-law marriages, he realized the importance of getting a license.

"The first thing retirees need to do is make sure they have their marriage license," Al Davis said. "This happened to a lot of people in my age group because the old rabbis back then thought that, hey, they're married in God's eyes, so why send in the marriage license?"

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