Bigamy Lawyers

Authored by , LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

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Most Common Family Law Issues:

What is Bigamy?

Bigamy is "formally entering into a marriage while the previous one is un-dissolved".  So that if one spouse remains married, and tries to enter into a second marriage, this is considered bigamous and the second marriage is declared void and grounds for an annulment. Therefore, one who knowingly enters into a bigamous marriage is guilty of the crime of bigamy. In practice however, bigamy is seldom prosecuted unless it is part of a fraudulent scheme to get another’s property or to commit some other felony.

Cases That are Not Bigamous

In most cases, people commit bigamy accidentally with the belief that a prior marriage is dissolved.  The following are examples of accidental bigamy when bigamy has not been committed:

What is the Status of Bigamy Today? 

In 1878, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled that polygamy (the practice of having more than one spouse at a time) was illegal, despite the protests of the Mormons who claimed polygamy was part of their religious practice.  Mormons officially renounced polygamy in 1890, but a few still practice polygamy today.

Currently, all 50 states have statutes against bigamy, and in many states, bigamy is considered a felony. The few states that qualify bigamy as a misdemeanor include: 

 

Alaska
Arkansas
Hawaii (petty misdemeanor -- 30 days in jail)
Iowa
Maine
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
New Jersey
Ohio
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island (misdemeanor, $1,000)
Tennessee
Texas 

Do I Need a Family Lawyer?

If you have reason to believe that your divorce is not final or suspect that your fiancee is still married, you may want to secure that information before thinking about marriage.  A family attorney may assist you with your divorce and advise you of your rights and the opportunity when you can remarry. 

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Last Modified: 05-02-2014 07:57 AM PDT

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