Bigamy

Bigamy is “the act of marrying a second time while a previous marriage is still legally in effect.”1 Sometimes people accidentally commit bigamy.

“Depending on where you live, if you marry before your divorce is final, you could conceivably go to jail. You have two spouses: the one you haven’t divorced yet and the one you just married. This is bigamy, and it is a crime in every state,” according to legalzoom.com.2

Officially being married to more than one living person at a time is illegal in the United States. The names in the law, bigamy or polygamy, and the laws themselves, vary by state.

The sourced articles below provide more information on bigamy.

Footnotes: 1. collinsdictionary.com, accessed 7/12/2018; 2. “What Can Happen To Me If I Remarry Before Getting A Divorce?” legalzoom.com, accessed 7/12/2018



  1. “What Can Happen To Me If I Remarry Before Getting A Divorce?”

    “Depending on where you live, if you marry before your divorce is final, you could conceivably go to jail. You have two spouses: the one you haven’t divorced yet and the one you just married. This is bigamy, and it is a crime in every state. Civil family laws treat the concept of bigamy somewhat differently; because your second marriage is illegal, it technically can’t exist. You can still be prosecuted in criminal court, but you don’t have to divorce to end the marriage. You can annul it.”

    Beverly Bird, legalzoom.com, accessed on 7/12/2018

  2. What Is An Invalid Marriage?

    “A marriage may be invalid if: Bigamy: One spouse is already married to someone else or where they are both wrong in believing that a previous marriage had ended due to divorce or death.”

    Jason Cheung, legalmatch.com, 4/10/2018

  3. Ben Carson Fast Facts

    “When [Ben] Carson became the director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins at age 33, he became the youngest to head a major division in the hospital’s history.
    His parents separated when he was eight, after it was revealed his father was a bigamist. He and his brother were raised by their mother.”

    CNN Library, cnn.com, 9/6/2017

  4. 6 Terrifying Stories Of A Spouse Hiding A Second Life (From A Divorce Counselor)

    “I’ve seen several marriages wrecked by mere petty lies. But as crippling and often fatal as basic dishonesty can be to a marriage, it takes on an entirely more catastrophic dimension when your husband or wife is cheating. Even worse, when it’s not mere infidelity but also bigamy—or even polygamy—you’re dealing with someone who is not merely dishonest, they are deceitful to a degree that can only be described as sociopathic.”

    Chelsea Fagan, thoughtcatalog.com, 10/2/2014

  5. Betrayed Military Spouses Often Keep Quiet For Fear Of Losing Benefits

    “Fear of losing benefits keeps many military wives from exposing sexual misconduct or other offenses committed by their husbands, say many of those familiar with the military criminal justice system. [Kris] Johnson kept quiet about her husband, Col. James H. Johnson III, while he carried on an affair with an Iraqi woman while deployed to that country. … Congress responded in January with a provision that requires the Pentagon to study the feasibility of providing ‘transitional benefits’ to families in these cases. The study, to be completed in May, will consider such questions as how long benefits might last and who would be eligible for them. … Col. Johnson was fined $300,000 in 2012, but allowed to retire as a lieutenant colonel. He pleaded guilty to adultery, bigamy, fraud, misuse of government funds and other charges that could have resulted in up to 54 years in prison.”

    David Zucchino, latimes.com, 4/2/2014

  6. The Evolution Of The American Marriage

    “Modern-day American marriages, with few exceptions, are generally monogamous, but historically there have been many types of marital arrangements. … In [July 2] 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which made polygamy a felony in the US.”

    Genevieve Weber, corvallisadvocate.com, 6/21/2012