Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.


(bĭ`gəmē), crime of marrying during the continuance of a lawful marriage. Bigamy is not committed if a prior marriage has been terminated by a divorcedivorce,
partial or total dissolution of a marriage by the judgment of a court. Partial dissolution is a divorce "from bed and board," a decree of judicial separation, leaving the parties officially married while forbidding cohabitation.
..... Click the link for more information.
 or a decree of nullity of marriagenullity of marriage,
in law, an unlawful marriage that is either void or voidable because of conditions existing at the time of the marriage. A bigamous or incestuous marriage, for example, is void, and there is no need to bring a suit to obtain a decree declaring it void.
..... Click the link for more information.
. In the United States if a husband or wife is absent and unheard of for seven (or in some states five) years and not known to be alive, he or she is presumed dead, and remarriage by the other spouse is not bigamous. It is not necessarily a defense to a charge of bigamy that the offending party believed in good faith that he was divorced or that his previous marriage was not lawful.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1878 that plurality of wives (polygamy), as originally permitted by the Mormon religion, violated criminal law and was not defensible as an exercise of religious liberty. The Latter-day Saints renounced polygamy in 1890, but the practice has persisted among some, although it has been rarely prosecuted.



and polygamy, in Soviet criminal law, cohabitation of a man with two or several women, provided that the man establishes a household separately with each of the women or simultaneously with all of them. In either case it is insignificant whether the marriages with these women have been registered. It is sufficient to establish the facts of cohabitation and keeping house together.

The social danger of bigamy is that it hinders the actual emancipation of women and violates the principle of monogamy. The law provides for punitive measures of deprivation of freedom for up to one year or correctional tasks for the same term (see, for example, the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, arts. 235–36). Criminal responsibility for bigamy and polygamy is provided for by the legislation of the Azerbaijan, Armenian, Georgian, Kirghiz, Tadzhik, Turkmen, and Uzbek Soviet socialist republics and in the RSFSR in several autonomous Soviet socialist republics and national okrugs (the Bashkir, Buriat, Dagestan, Kabarda-Balkar, and Tatar autonomous Soviet socialist republics, Adygei and Gorno-Altai autonomous oblasts, and Aga-Buriat, Komi-Permiak, and Koriak national okrugs)—that is, where the vestiges of a tribal way of life have not been completely eradicated.

Bigamy and polygamy should be distinguished from illegal registration of marriage with two or several women. The legislation of all the union republics prohibits the registration of a marriage without the dissolution of a previous marriage. Failure to comply with this legislation constitutes a special form of crime (for example, the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, art. 201).



the crime of marrying a person while one is still legally married to someone else
References in periodicals archive ?
cases in West Yorkshire revealed Bigamy is illegal under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, carrying a maximum prison sentence of seven years.
He then used the decree absolute from his first marriage in order to wed for a third time, knowing full well he was committing bigamy.
It led me to build up a picture of what was happening in practice and some of the most surprising findings relate to the average duration of the marriages in mid-Victorian England - well over 30 years - the speed with which bigamy was detected and the propensity of divorcees as well as bigamists to lie about their marital status when remarrying
Maurice Gibney, 48, | |who is facing charges of bigamy, pictured leaving Wirral magistrates court
Faiza, who had a legal marriage, said that Ahmed's marriage to Booth is also an Islamic one but the 45-year-old hasn't registered it with the authorities and if she does he can be prosecuted for bigamy.
Act is being introduced to prevent bigamy, polygamy, strengthen widows' rights to property & check instances of child marriage'
Another tale from the Old Bailey concerns the growing independence of Victorian-era women, as witnessed by records from bigamy trials.
A bill to strengthen the state's bigamy laws, inspired by the 2008 raid on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas, was sent to the Senate floor today.
That a man should commit bigamy against such a vulnerable person is horrifying and the injustice is huge.
Defending Mills, solicitor David Matthew said bigamy is so rare there are no sentencing guidelines.