Each state has specific requirements people must follow to get married. For example, a person must be at least 18 years old, not already married, and obtain a marriage license. A person who is already married is forbidden in Texas to marry anyone else.
What Is Bigamy?
Bigamy occurs when a person intentionally gets married while they are already married. The prior marriage is generally kept secret from the new spouse.
What Is the Law Outlawing Bigamy in Texas?
In Texas, a person commits bigamy if they are legally married and:
- Plan to marry or actually marry someone other than their spouse in Texas, another state, or foreign country
- Live with another individual other than their spouse in Texas while under the appearance of being married to the individual; OR
- The other individual is married and the person knowingly marries them
- The other individual is married and the person lives with them while under the appearance of being married
What Does the Term “Under the Appearance of Being Married” Mean in Texas?
To live “under the appearance of being married” means pretending to be married while living together or showing an intent to marry the individual.
Is Bigamy a Misdemeanor or a Felony in Texas?
Bigamy is a felony in Texas. The type of felony depends on the circumstances. The crime is a felony of the third degree if the person intentionally marries another while married or is under the appearance of being married.
What Is the Sentence for a Felony in the Third Degree?
The punishment is:
- Two to 10 years in state prison
- $10,000 fine
- State prison time and a fine
Can I Receive More Prison Time for Bigamy?
Yes. If a married person intentionally marries a person 17 years old, the potential prison sentence is two to 20 years in prison. If the person is 16 years old, it is five to 99 years in prison.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you are accused of bigamy, you will likely need the assistance of a lawyer to avoid facing a lengthy prison sentence. Contact a Texas lawyer to learn more about resolving your case.