(redirected from bigamously)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal.


bigamy (bĭˈgəmē), crime of marrying during the continuance of a lawful marriage. Bigamy is not committed if a prior marriage has been terminated by a divorce or a decree of nullity of marriage. 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.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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 Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


the crime of marrying a person while one is still legally married to someone else
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
A 63-year-old woman who died in an accidental fire at her home at Conwy was due to face a crown court trial for bigamously marrying her late husband.
DENA THOMPSON married Julian Webb bigamously in 1991 while still married to first husband Lee Wyatt.
By her own admission, Julian Webb was one of a string of men she preyed upon, first marrying him bigamously before making him believe she had secured him work with a newspaper in Florida.
During his life, Reilly married four woman (three bigamously) and had numerous mistresses scattered from the US to the Ukraine.
He will marry Dionisia bigamously. While the battle against the Moors rages, the parallel siege of Iacinta's charms continues in Roderick's castle.
He persuaded her that his intentions were honourable, but told her that "he was doubtful whether his father, who is possessed of a considerable landed estate, and upon whom he had a great dependance, might approve of the match; and therefore he suggested that it would be prudent, for both their sakes, to keep it secret for some time." After she became pregnant a meeting was called with her relatives, when he "avowed his marriage, which, he assured them, was as valid, by the law of Scotland, as if the most public celebration had taken place." He also acknowledged the marriage in letters and, though he stole most of them from her after he met an heiress whom he bigamously married, her parents had held on to two of them, which conclusively proved the marriage to be valid.
He had earlier admitted that on December 24, 2018, he did bigamously marry Julie Budge, from Caithness, at the Highland Registry Office in Inverness, while he was the lawful husband of Rosemary Ellis, who he wed on October 1, 1994, at Turnbridge Registrar's Office.
She was the daughter of owner Meg Richardson and was put through the mill, as a drug addict and alcoholic who was married three times, once bigamously. Jane, 71, now lives in Staffordshire with her second husband, chartered surveyor David Dunger.
He is also serving time for trying to bigamously marry Simone Banarjee, from Oban.
Her third husband threw her out after three of his children died in her "care" and she married her last died in her last husband, widower Frederick Cotton, bigamously.
Holloway spend four years away and met and bigamously married Ann Kennett.
He was also convicted of trying to bigamously marry Scottish nurse Simone Banerjee, 41.