What Is Bigamy?
When talking about bigamy, it is sometimes confusing to understand exactly what it means, and what the laws are concerning this practice. Many people may get the concept of bigamy confused with the idea of polygamy, as the two are very similar. However, bigamy is a separate and slightly different practice.
Bigamy occurs when a person is legally married to more than one spouse. This can mean a husband with more than one wife, or a wife with more than one husband. Bigamy differs from polygamy in that polygamists are seen as married to more than one person by their church or in their own eyes, but are legally married to only one person, if that. Both bigamy and polygamy are considered correct practices in several religions and cultures around the world, including the Mormon religion. However, bigamy is illegal in most countries, including the United States. If a person is convicted of bigamy, they are usually charged with a misdemeanor and could get sentenced to up to five years in prison. Fines are also levied against the guilty party. Most countries and states within the United States, also have polygamy laws. Polygamous marriages are not recognized as legal, and polygamists are sometimes charged with a felony; however, these laws are not always strictly enforced.
The key difference, when defining bigamy and polygamy, is the legality of the marriages involved. Although socially, religiously or culturally acceptable in some areas, both bigamy and polygamy are illegal in all of the 50 states. This taboo subject is still fascinating to study and learn more about.