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Bigamy meaning

Bigamy Meaning :What does bigamy mean, essential elements, In Latin, Usage, sentence, examples, difference with adultery, why bigamy is illegal, what is bigamy charge, Is Bigamy allowed in Christianity?, Which state allow Bigamy, Bigamy means the same as poligamy.

Bigamy Meaning :What does bigamy mean, essential elements, In Latin, Usage, sentence, examples, difference with adultery, why bigamy is illegal, what is bigamy charge
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What is Bigamy

Marriage is a sacred bond binding two peoples together and makes them one flesh. A society recognizes marriage and matrimonial ceremonies as a need to eliminate immoral practices. But many times, they cross lines of marriage, which deteriorates the morals and values of society. 

They contract another marriage with someone else while their first marriage is still valid. This act is called Bigamy. 

These marriages do not get recognition in societies and cultures. Many times these marriages are looked down on in society.

Bigamy is illegal and debarred in most countries, despite that practiced in many states. Let us understand the meaning of bigamy in depth.

What does bigamy mean

A bigamy is an act of committing two marriages at a time. When a person enters a second marriage while the former marriage is still valid, it is called bigamy. 

The word Bigamy originates from the late Latin word bigamous, which means marrying twice at the same time. 

Bigamy is more a legal term used to define the offense of commenting on two marriages at a time. Many peoples confuse Polygamy with Bigamy. Polygamy is a different term that means multiple marriages.

A person who commits and enters into a second marriage while the first marriage is still subsisting and valid is called a Bigamist.

Bigamy is prohibited and illegal in most countries but, in others, it is legal and recognized as a part of the culture.

A bigamy is an intentional act. Many times peoples commit bigamy for illicit purposes, obtaining the property of someone, obtaining citizenship, having sexual intercourse, and other fraudulent motives.

Bigamy is a legal ground of divorcé and annulment in many countries.  

To make a person liable for the offense of Bigamy, they must be legally married. The first marriage should be valid and exist in the eye of law. They cannot make a person liable for the offense of bigamy; if they get divorced or the marriage is dissolved or declared null by the court. 

If the former spouse is dead or not heard for seven years, it is presumed dead; then the person cannot be held liable for bigamy.

The term bigamy means a married person marries again with another person while the former marriage still exists and is valid.

Essential Elements of Bigamy:

  1. That person is already married: to make the person liable for bigamy, that person must be already married.
  2. The first marriage must be legal: the first marriage must be legal and exist in the eye of law. If the marriage is not valid, it is out of the purview of bigamy.
  3. The second marriage must take place after the first marriage.
  4. Second marriage must not be valid under any personal law.
  5. Former marriage is still valid and existing.
  6. The former spouse is alive.

What is “Sufficiat ad curam regiminis”:

“Sufficiat ad Curam regiminis” is a Latin term that means the state of having two spouses at a time. These terms refer to Bigamy. 

When a person marries another person while already married to someone else, and that marriage is still valid, it is called Bigamy. 

In short, Bigamy is marrying two-person when the former marriage is still valid.

The word, Bigamy emerges from the Latin word bigamous. Bigamous means marrying twice or double marriage. In bigamous, bi stands for twice, and gamos stands for marriage. The word bigamy is a blend of these two words, which means marrying twice or double marriage. Bigamy is more like a legal term used for a person committing an act of double marriage. The person who commits the offense of marrying two people at a time is called a bigamist.

Bigamy and its Usage

Since time immemorial, bigamy has not gotten legal status in society and has also been looked down on by others. The second wife does not get the perks and benefits of marriage available to a legally married wife. Roman Empire passed strict laws in 285 AD and mandated and recognized monogamy marriages as the only legal marriage. Many Christians come forward and boycott bigamous marriage as their cultural practice. 

They upheld monogamy marriages which establish marital relationships between only one man and woman. Christians believe that the will and design of God is monogamous marriage, a marriage between one man for one woman.

In 393 AD, the Roman empire issued an imperial edict and extended the polygamous marriages ban on Jewish people. Bigamy is traditionally a social problem. Bigamy was made a felony and illegal act in 1604 to preserve the cultural aspects of religions and societies.

Bigamy Sentence

Bigamy is debarred and forbidden in almost every state. Every state has its penal laws to deal with the offense of bigamy. The punishment and sentence of bigamy may differ from state to state.

Bigamy is not a grave offense; it is the lowest level of felony and highest level of misdemeanor. 

Whether a crime is a felony or misdemeanor; depends upon the circumstances and level of seriousness of the crime. 

The punishment or penalty for Bigamy varies from state to state. Generally, Bigamy is penalized for up to 5 years with a fine. But it depends on concerned state laws. The punishment can be grave in different states.

Every country has its law for Bigamy and punishes them accordingly. Like,

In California, a bigamist may suffer in jail with 1-year imprisonment with a fine of $10,000. The person out of a second marriage gets charged with $5,000 if knew the facts of the former marriage.

In Florida, a bigamist gets punished with five years imprisonment with a $5,000 fine.

In New York, the bigamist suffers imprisonment of 3-4 years. 

In Australia, the bigamist is penalized for up to 5 years of imprisonment.

In Belgium, the bigamist may suffer behind bars for 5 to 10 years.

In Brazil, the punishment for bigamy is 2-6 years.

In China, punishment for bigamy is up to 2 years of jail, and if the bigamy with a soldier, it is three years.

In New Zealand, up to six years of imprisonment.

In the United States, bigamy is prohibited and illegal in all states and penalized up to 5 years of imprisonment.

Although the fine varied in every state. Every country has its procedure and penal law to deal with the offense of bigamy. These punishments differ from state to state. 

Bigamy is legal in many countries like Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Phillips, and the Maldives. They do not have a prescribed sentence for Bigamy. 

These countries do not prohibit contracts of second marriage while the first is still subsisting. Therefore sentence for Bigamy differs from state to state according to the state laws.

Examples of Bigamy

When one person marries someone else while already married to another person is called an act of bigamy. Let us summarise these terms with an example for better understanding.

For example, A marries B, his wife. After a few months, A and B got into a fight; B left and went to her parents. In the meantime, A again marries C. The marriage between A and B was still subsisted and valid. In these cases, A has committed the act of Bigamy.

Many times, a person commits the offense of Bigamy by accident. When a person enters into a second marriage, believing that the first marriage dissolves by divorce or any other means, it becomes null. But the first marriage is valid and not terminated; it is accidental.

For example, if a person enters into a second marriage presuming the termination of the first marriage by divorce, but the decree does not get finalised in the meantime, it is accidental. Despite this fact, it is considered Bigamy.

If the former spouse is dead or cannot be heard for seven years and is presumed dead, the person cannot be held liable for Bigamy.

For example, A and B contracted marriage with each other. After a few years, B got abducted by a gang of dacoits. Seven years passed, there was no sign of B, and no one heard of B. The law presumed the death of B. After that, A again marries C. Here A has not committed any offense and cannot be held liable for Bigamy.

Bigamy and Adultery difference

Marriage is a sacred relationship binding two people in an unbreakable bond. Those who cross the line of these pure relationships are discarded and treated as disloyal in societies. 

Bigamy and Adultery are the two elements that deteriorate these scared bonds. These two are a matter of concern and recognized as a crime in many countries.

When any person crosses the line and intentionally establishes a sexual relationship with another person, not their spouse is called Adultery. Adultery is forbidden in society and considered a crime in many places. 

A person committing Adultery can be penalised and sent to jail.

Bigamy is the act marry twice while the former marriage is still valid and existing. The former spouse must be alive at the time of the second marriage. A person marrying twice is called a bigamist.

Both of these terms look similar, but there is a big difference between the two. Here are some key elements to understand the difference between Bigamy and Adultery: 

  • Definition: adultery is entering into sexual relations with a person other than their spouse. Whereas bigamy is entering marrying another person while legally married to someone else.
  • Origin: the word adultery originated from the Old French word avouterie or the Latin word adulterium, which means intended violation of the marriage bed.

Bigamy originates from the Late Latin word ‘bigamous’ It is a hybrid of ‘bi’ and ‘gamos’ that means marrying twice. 

  • Relationship: in Adultery, the person involved in sexual intercourse is other than their spouse. They only share a sexual relationship that has no legal recognization. But in Bigamy, the person committing Bigamy enters into a second marriage with another person. 
  • Legality: an act of Adultery is never considered legal nor gets recognition in any society. But Bigamy is not illegal and is forbidden in many countries. Many countries allow multiple marriages as a religious practice.

Why Bigamy is illegal

Sharing your partner with another person is not easy. The chances of violence and mistreatment increase in Bigamy. 

The spouse out of first marriage suffer and face violence in their households, generally women. Bigamy was declared illegal to eliminate violence and mistreatment in marriages.

Bigamy is the act of marrying twice while the former marriage still subsists. It not only deteriorates the values and morals of society; but also snatches the rights of second spouses. 

No one shall be deprived of their rights as provided by law. When a person enters into a marital relationship with someone, that person gets entitled to several rights recognized by law. When a person marries a second time, the second spouse gets deprived of the rights; provided by law to that person at the time of marriage. 

The law aims to protect the rights of spouses out of second marriages by criminalizing the act of Bigamy.

Another reason a bigamy is an illegal act is a fraudulent act. When a person marries a second time by hiding the facts of the former marriage, it constitutes a fraudulent act. Bigamy is illegal to save the person from such fraudulent actions.

What is the charge of Bigamy:

Bigamy charges as a felony or misdemeanor called a wobbler charge. A felony is a crime that involves violence, and it is punished generally with more than one year of imprisonment or death. 

A felony is a serious nature crime and considered grave. A misdemeanour is a sin or misdeed not serious as a felony. Whether a crime is a felony or misdemeanour depends upon state law, the circumstances of the individual, criminal history, and the level of deceit involved. Many states consider Bigamy as a felony and others as a misdemeanor.

Bigamy charges under felony is a criminal offense and prescribe a maximum of 5years imprisonment with fine. In misdemeanor, a punishment for Bigamy is generally up to 1-year imprisonment with a fine.

In civil courts, to get a decree of annulment or nullity of marriage charges bigamy. When the person enters into a second marriage, the second marriage can be declared void and null; by the court.

Who can file a charge of bigamy

Any person is entitled to file a case. Who is deceived and deprived of their right; due to undeclared or false representation of facts.

In the case of women, women can file a complaint against bigamists.

In the case of a woman, her father, mother, sister, brother, or any person related to her by blood can act on her behalf.

In the case of a husband, he can himself file the complaint, and no other person on his behalf can file the complaint about Bigamy.

Is Bigamy allowed in Christianity?

Whether Bigamy is allowed or not is still a debatable question in Christians. 

According to old testaments, many devotees of God were married to more than one spouse. But it is considered against the will of God. God favours monogamous marriage and created one man for one woman as Adam and eve. 

The bible explicitly expresses the will of God. Marriage is an unbreakable relationship between one man and a woman. Marrying more than one is against the design and will of God. 

According to Bible Genesis 2, the man shall hold fast to his wife, and both should become one flesh. Separation, divorce, and multiple marriages are unaccepted by the almighty. Jesus affirms that men and women should not get apart to find a new partner. They mean to be with each other till death.

You cannot get along with another person and become one flesh.

Although many Devotees of God practiced Polygamy in ancient times, many people favored monogamy and rejected the practice Polygamy.

Christians explicitly debarred Polygamy. 

Alimight has created one man for one woman to encourage and support each other in every situation. They should work alongside each other. The scripture of Eve and Adam expresses the will of God that man should leave his family and become one flesh with his wife.

The union depicted in the Bible supports; the union of two souls into one flesh. Multiple spouses can not get along and become one flesh.

Because of this reason, polygamy is opposed and forbidden in the Christian community. Christians do not give recognization to polygamy. 

They upheld the concept of monogamous marriage.

Which state allow Bigamy

Bigamy is an illegal act of having two spouses at a time. When having more than one spouse is allowed and legal, it is called Polygamy.

Bigamy is considered an offense in almost every country, but many religions still allow having more than one spouse. Its legality varies in different countries. 

While Europe and America probit polygamy and favors monogamy (the marriage between two peoples), in many parts of Africans, the middle east, and southeast Asian countries, polygamy is still recognized and legal.

Polygamy is allowed in more than 58 sovereign states out of 200, most practiced by the Muslim community. 

Polygamy is allowed in India, the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia, but only for Muslims.

In Indonesia, Polygamy in some parts is allowed.

In Bhutan, Botswana, and many African countries, Polygamy is illegal under civil law but practiced as a part of customary law.

In Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Kuwait, and some other countries, Polygamy is legal and recognized.

Polygamy is banned in all 50 states of the United States. Still, thousands of people practice Polygamy in North America. In the state of Utah, in February 2020, the house and Senate reduced the punishment of Polygamy equal to a traffic ticket. 

Bigamy is not a felony in Utah anymore. Many Mormons practiced Polygamy in Utah, which was opposed by the rest of the states. 

Are Bigamy and Polygamy are similar

Many people think Bigamy and Polygamy are similar terms used in the same sense, but it is not the case. There’s a fine line of difference between these two. Polygamy has a much broader meaning than Bigamy.

The difference between these two can be understood from their meaning. 

The word ‘bi’ in Bigamy stands for twice or two, and the word ‘Poly’ in Polygamy means multiple or more than one.

The term Bigamy means one person marries another person while legally married. Whereas, Polygamy is marrying more than once. The former is illegal because the person from the first marriage knows the facts of the second marriage later when the second marriage took place. But in the case of polygamy, generally, both spouses are aware of the truth. 

Polygamy is more like a consent marriage; both spouses accept to share their spouse. They reside in the same household.

Women who have more than one husband are called polyandry, and the man who has more than one wife is called Polygyny. The person who commits the offense of Bigamy; is referred to as a bigamist.

The second difference is legality. Bigamy is illegal in many countries, but polygamy is allowed in some countries, like India, Pakistan, Philippines. 

Many religions still accept multiple marriages as part of their culture. People belonging to the Muslim community still allow Polygamy. Polygamy is a religious practice, whereas Bigamy is not.

Bigamy is a legal term used in courts. Therefore Bigamy is not a religious practice.

Bigamy is prohibited and considered an offense in many countries, while Polygamy is not.

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Editions 2022-February and August

External resources: Wikipedia, Expatraite Law

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