What is Bigamy?

Bigamy is the act of marrying someone while still legally married to another person. It is considered a crime in many jurisdictions and can result in legal penalties.

A person’s first marriage remains valid even after being married while still legally wedded to someone else. It makes for a complicated legal position wherein compensation may be due to both the first spouse and the potential second spouse.

Bigamy comes in two flavors: unintentional , which occurs when someone marries again by accident, and intentional, which occurs when someone intentionally breaks the law. In any scenario, bigamy is illegal in the United States. Read on to know more about bigamy.

The Background

Bigamy was outlawed even in classical Rome. It laws began to spread throughout Europe and then the rest of the world after Rome fell. Plural weddings were common in many communities for a long time, despite the fact that bigamy is now illegal in many countries. Abraham and Solomon are two examples of individuals mentioned in the Christian Old Testament who are said to have had several wives at the same time.

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Moreover, polygyny—the practice of men having numerous wives—has long been prevalent in many communities. The practice of women having numerous husbands, or polyandry, is less prevalent. Polyandry was once common among some noteworthy cultures, such as the Arctic Inuit people. Even though bigamy is now prohibited in many nations, plural marriage is still practiced by certain religious and cultural groups.

The Penalty

What is the American penalty for bigamy? The consequences for multiple weddings vary greatly since state sentencing criteria are set by state legislatures. Moreover, different charges apply depending on whether bigamy is regarded as a criminal or civil matter.

In a bigamy case, a civil case is normally one in which there are children from one or more partnerships; these children are usually entitled to inheritance and child support.

When a spouse finds out they have been involved in a bigamous marriage, they typically press charges in a criminal case. A fine of money, which can be anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, may occasionally be imposed as a penalty. Those found guilty of bigamy in other circumstances face sentences of up to ten years in prison.

In summary, being married to two or more persons at the same time is known as bigamy. In the US and many other nations across the world, it is illegal. It is required that a person’s first marriage not result in a divorce, death, or other lawful termination in order to prosecute them for bigamy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bigamy

1. What is bigamy?

It is the act of marrying someone while already legally married to another person.

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2. Is bigamy illegal?

Yes, it is illegal in most countries and is considered a criminal offense.

3. What are the consequences of bigamy?

Consequences can vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they often include fines and imprisonment. Additionally, any subsequent marriages entered into while still legally married are typically considered void.

4. Can someone be charged with bigamy if they were unaware their previous marriage was still legally binding?

Ignorance of the law is not usually considered a defense in cases of bigamy. However, individual circumstances may be taken into account during legal proceedings.

5. How can someone protect themselves from unknowingly committing bigamy?

It’s essential to ensure that any previous marriages have been legally dissolved before entering into a new marriage. This typically involves obtaining a divorce or annulment.

6. Are there any exceptions to bigamy laws?

In some cultures or religions, practices such as polygamy are allowed under certain circumstances. However, these exceptions are usually subject to specific legal and cultural regulations.

7. Can a person be charged with bigamy if their first marriage was never legally registered?

In some cases, if a marriage was not legally registered, it may not be recognized by the law, and therefore, the subsequent marriage may not be considered bigamy. However, this can vary depending on the specific laws of the jurisdiction.

8. Can someone be charged with bigamy if their spouse is missing or presumed dead?

Again, this can depend on the laws of the jurisdiction. In some cases, if a spouse is missing or presumed dead and certain legal procedures are followed, a person may be able to remarry without being charged with bigamy. However, this varies by location and specific circumstances.

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9. How common is bigamy?

Exact statistics on the prevalence of bigamy are challenging to determine due to its clandestine nature. However, it remains a relatively uncommon occurrence compared to monogamous marriages.

10. What should someone do if they suspect their spouse is committing bigamy?

If someone suspects their spouse is committing bigamy, they should seek legal advice and assistance to understand their options and protect their rights. This may involve gathering evidence and consulting with a lawyer experienced in family law.

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