The Supreme Court on Thursday granted the common-law wife of a deceased teacher at a private college the right to receive a bereaved family pension.

Tokuji Izumi, presiding justice at the top court’s No. 1 Petty Bench, said the 56-year-old woman “has the right to receive the pension as the marital relationship between the man and the legitimate wife was insubstantial, while the man and the common-law wife practically had a husband-and-wife relationship.”

The court decided that the woman has the status of “marital partner” designated under the mutual aid pension system for teachers and employees of private schools.

The man married his legitimate wife in 1956 and started living with his common-law wife around 1970. They stayed together until he died in 2001 at age 74.

His common-law wife had asked a mutual aid organization for pensions for teachers at private schools to grant her the bereaved family pension. But the organization decided to give it to the legitimate wife, prompting the common-law wife to file suit.

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