Getting Away With Bigamy

Defenders of Marriage
Defenders of Marriage (Photo credit: Mike Licht,

Bigamy is in the news again. A Washington man recently pleaded guilty to bigamy after his first wife discovered the second on Facebook. Every time bigamy hits the headlines, I have an uptick in searches that lead to my blog. People seem to have two main questions:

“How do I get away with bigamy?” and “How do bigamists get caught?”

I really hope these searches are out of curiosity and not a sign of someone making plans.

Here’s the truth – it’s easy to commit bigamy. Many states do not ask for proof of a divorce when you file for a marriage license. This was the case in the state where my husband married, although they were re-evaluating the law. Even requiring proof of the dissolution of the prior marriage is not a fail safe; all one has to do is claim that they have never been married. Records of marriages and divorces are held at the county level. It is not possible to search all of the databases under the current system.

It may be easy to commit bigamy, but it is getting harder and harder to get away with it as our lives become more documented online and through electronic communication. In the Washington case, Facebook suggested to the first wife that she may know the second. In my case, I caught my husband through an email (If You’re Going to Get Married Illegally, Be Sure to Pay the Band).

Another side effect of bigamy in the news is the increase in jokes about Mormons, Utah, and polygamy. I’d like to clarify a few points while on the subject. Do some Mormons believe in and practice polygamy? Yes. Is it the norm? No. Most Mormons do not live in households with multiple wives and do not condone the practice. It’s simply that these households get more media attention because it is different and therefore interesting. Furthermore, the type of bigamy committed by my husband and the man in Washington is in no way related to a sister wife sort of situation. These men committed adultery and carried it through to a horrific end. This was not consensual. This was fraud and deception.

I get it. Bigamy can be funny. Goodness knows, I’ve made my share of jokes to laugh through the tears (Dear Ms. Manners: The Etiquette of Bigamy). But while you’re laughing, remember that lives have been torn apart, usually in a public and embarrassing way.

In the Washington case, the man received a year’s probation. My husband didn’t even get that. I’m depending upon karma to carry out his sentence.

Thank you for sharing!

37 thoughts on “Getting Away With Bigamy

  1. Moments with Millie – Gerton, North Carolina – I write from the inspiration of the Divine in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina. It's hard not to be inspired by nature and her beauty. It's impossible not to notice the love that's right in front of us each day. I write because I must. It has become a direct channel from Spirit. I thank you for stopping by and joining me in these words.
    momentswithmillie says:

    Unbelievable. Too much craziness out there. Seriously.

  2. It took me a long time to truly believe that “what comes around, goes around” or “you’ll get yours”. The thing is, over the years, I’ve seen it first hand and more than once.

    I now fully believe that your ex will get his.

    1. I think so too mainly because if you go through life treating people poorly, you will not be treated well yourself. I have faith in karma which is why I chosen not to reveal his identity. Karma sees right through aliases:)

  3. I jay don’t understand the need or want for more than one wife. Seriously? This is beyond what I can comprehend and I’m a smart cookie. Now I understand not wanting to be married, leaving and never asking for a divorce because you are chicken. But why marry someone else especially when living common law is now the norm?

    1. I know. It’s nuts. I can’t speak for other cases, but in mine, it appears as though the marriage needed to be “legal” so that he could obtain a visa to go to Uganda and so that he could take out insurance on her. In other words, the marriage was all part of the con. He never thought he would get caught.

        1. That was her suspicion. She told me “Thank you for figuring this out. I don’t think I would have made it out of Uganda alive.” And then she went back to him. I hope she (and any others who have crossed his path) are okay.

  4. I can’t fathom someone wanting to be married twice at the same time. Serial marriage takes enough of a toll! But maybe if I had married them all at the same time I could have come to my senses earlier.

  5. As an LDS member (aka Mormon) I can tell you that we do not condone polygamy of any kind. In fact, they will be ex communicated if they do. The people that say they’re Mormon and are polygamist are not actually members of the LDS church.
    That being said, I can’t believe that so many people try to get away with this. My husband just left me, and its been a roller coaster ride. People can’t handle being married to one person, what makes them think adding another one to the mix is a good idea?? Gee Wiz!

    1. Thank you for sharing. It is such a roller coaster ride. I know in my case, my husband wasn’t thinking…I have the feeling that’s probably the case in many situations like this! I hope your roller coaster evens out for you and give you a nice, gentle upward climb! 🙂

    2. Well polygamy is no longer part of the LDS religion because they obey the law of the land. It is still part of the religion a man may be sealed to multiple wives for eternity, while a woman would have to ask the highest level of church leadership to unseal her first marriage if she wanted to get sealed to another.

    3. I am an LDS member. We got a bifurcation in California, so he could marry his girlfriend. They separated after six months. In the meantime the Judge signed off on our property settlement in which the MSA agreement was not signed by either party. Two weeks later my ex spouse and his 2nd wife file for divorce in Utah. Three days later the Utah Court grants that divorce after waiving the mandatory waiting period. Eleven days later, my ex spouse marries the second wife again, in California. Ten months later, she files for divorce in the State of California, unbeknownst to me she gets my attorney to also represent her in a case against my ex spouse, at the same time he was also representing me trying to get the Judgement set aside that I never signed or agreed to. Thirteen months after my ex spouse’s second wife in their second marriage filed for divorce, their divorce was still not final, my ex spouse gets married to another women, committing bigamy. The second wife, wouldn’t sign off on their divorce, until my ex, agreed to share with her the community property he had defrauded me of in our divorce is why he committed bigamy. My stake provided his stake with the evidence that he had knowingly entered into a plural marriage, knowing he was legally married to the second wife. My ex’s stake president did nothing, allowed him to keep his Church Membership and get sealed in the temple.

    1. It is illegal. In fact, it is a felony in many states. The case would be in the state where the second marriage occurred. If the second wife knows of the first, she can also be prosecuted. Jail time is usually a possibility on the books, but from what I know, rarely occurs. The fact of the matter is that cash-strapped states don’t pursue bigamy too aggressively. In my case, there is a warrant for my ex, but that’s all.

  6. my nieces husband is a bigamist. He married his wife best friend before the divorce was finalized. His new wife being pregnant had complications and passed away. He has now received 500,000 accidental life insurance on wife # 2. Is this legal? He is still not legally divorced.

    1. Wow. Not sure on the legality aspect. My ex was told he would have to annul the second marriage (don’t know if he did) which leads me to believe that it had some legally binding aspect. Wouldn’t it be crazy if something happened to him and the money passed to wife #1?

      1. My soon-to-be ex-husband is committing bigamy. So far, it appears that the only consequences that they will face is that they have to get an annulment. I’m disappointed in this because they knew what they were doing.
        We tried to get divorced 3 years ago… and the judge simply dismissed our case after my husband called it a common-law marriage (even though it wasn’t). The judge would not listen to me. [it was not taken into account that my husband had hired an attorney to help us initiate our divorce and that he did not contest the divorce until the very end]

        I was never-the-less surprised when I found out he married his mistress less than a year later. I thought they would make sure to settle things before-hand, considering how much animosity was between all of us ( she had been a trusted friend…). It took another year for me to save up enough money to finally hire my own attorney and re-start the divorce process. Now he is trying to rush me because he wants to settle our divorce before he settles his annulment (they actually are sort-of splitting up anyway, after only 2 years of “marriage”). Funny, where was this rush attitude before he became a bigamist?
        And now, he is trying to claim that he can’t take responsibility for some of our mutual debts because he feels responsible for her children (from a previous marriage). “He wants to be able to afford to take the kids on a vacation and buy the older one a car!” So… now I’m stealing money from children. Wow. I’m glad that I will soon be done with this creep. I just wish he would get more of his legal ‘just desserts.’ Lying and laziness on this scale should not be allowed to slide. Somehow it also feels like child abuse, too.

  7. There are other reasons to commit bigamy. I have not done so but me and my “husband” have wanted to be married for a very long time and have thought about it a million times.. We have been together 27 yrs. Living together 22. I had been separated 3 yrs. when I met him. My ex was very abusive and would not give me a divorce. It took me two years after I left him to finally leave me alone. After that I never wanted to see him again and stir things up. I am still deathly afraid of him. My “husband” and I love each other vary much and just wish we could really get married.

  8. Wow! If I understand correctly…….The husband living with two wives and they agree to a 3rd can all go to jail? If a wife passes away, the husband gets the life insurance so, which wife legally gets a man’s pension, social security, house etc upon his death? Does the government offer assistance to the three wives with kids if passes?

    1. I have no idea! I do know in my case, my ex’s other marriage wasn’t legal (according to the district attorney), but they were still supposed to get it annulled (not sure if this ever happened). I do know that, until I remarried, I was entitled to his SSN death benefits if he happened to keel over. I’m still amazed at how easy it is to commit bigamy since there is no easy way to check records. They basically take your word for it that you’re single.

  9. I was married to a man that was married to three women the same time married to me. He was quite the ladies man.
    I found out the second time I married him. I did divorce him legally the first and second time. It is a juicy story, which at the time I didn’t think was juicy. I was taken back.
    The nine year affair he had with his mistress while still married to me was shocking. Working third shift, he would leave our children alone and sneak out after I left for work. She never lived very far from any place we lived.
    It didn’t seem fair, but he always had two women. Then one day my son called me at work and told me there was a fire in the basement. I told him wake up your dad, he said,he wasn’t there and never was at home. I left work and drove home only to discover that the TV set in the basement had water in the back of it and started a fire. The basement and kitchen smelled of smoke, the house with the children could have been destroyed. I was amazed there wasn’t more damage.
    These are just a few of the many and I mean many stories I put up with. I could write a book.
    Many life’s destroyed, but his life went on the no shame, no guilt.
    I hope and pray that the women of today look up every and anything they can about their man before marriage.
    My son says if there were computers then,he may have been caught.Thats why there is a waiting period after you register for a marriage license.
    I really enjoyed reading your story as sad as it is, then we know we are not the only women taken for a ride. A life long ride.
    Thanks for reading.

    1. Wow. How frightening that he could get away with all that. I’m so glad the fire wasn’t a tragedy. Thank you for sharing your story.

      When I remarried, I went prepared with evidence that I had been divorced. It wasn’t needed. All I had to supply was the date that the divorce was final. No wait period, no documentation, nada.

      The laws where my ex had his second marriage were similar, although there was talk about amending them after his case.

      Even with computers, marriage records are kept at the state level. So it’s relatively easy to enter into another marriage in a different state. The real question is, why would want to??? 🙂

      1. The first divorce my husband was in court for the divorce.There were three cases ahead of us, the judge asked all three cases for proof of divorce, when we were called up the judge didn’t ask him nor myself if we were ever married previously.
        I was afraid to say anything because he threatened to tell my one big secret and it wasn’t that I was married to another man before him. When we were together he snooped into my personal paperwork and found out “my secret” and was ready to use it against me. He was a violent man, if you had a newborn baby in your arms he would hit you. I really was very frightened believe me.
        He followed me home after the first divorce, to our home and by the way I lost my beautiful home in the divorce, the judge asked if he wanted the house and he said no, so it fell on me. I couldn’t afford the mortgage payment so I signed the house back to the mortgage company.
        The minute my mother and I walked thru the door the phone rang, it was his girlfriend. Cell phones were not out then, but she knew the minute we walked thru the door. She said he promised to marry her after the divorce. I sure hope he waited six months. She knew our phone number and address it was scary, all I could think about was our house keys were on his keychain, she could have made a copy when he was with her. He never let his pants or keys out of his site, they were always on the floor next to him when he was in bed. When he was in the bathtub, his keys and wallet were in the bathroom with him.
        My horror story, the divorce was over thirty years ago. Still fresh in memory and that’s all it is, just a memory.

    1. It IS crazy. And that’s pretty much the gist of it. When I married my now-husband, I had my divorce decree all ready to go. It was never needed. All I had to do was check “divorced” and enter the date. Because marriage/divorce records are held at the local level, it’s not really found unless someone either goes looking for it or reports it. Makes me wonder how common it is…

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