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If a man is married to 2 women in the US, what will happen to him?

Astoria, NY |

Can a man who is married to two woman in the United States be jailed under bigamy laws? Is this something courts will pursue?

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Attorney answers 4


Bigamy is a crime. Jail is one of the punishments, but it is typically not imposed, as there is rarely enough time, jail space and money to house the perpetrator of a non-violent crime.

But, to be precise, the man can not be married to 2 women. That is a legal impossibility. He can be married to just one at any given time, and the marriage to the 2nd woman is void.


I agree with Mr. Lampert. A man cannot be legally married to two women at the same time, since the second marriage is void from the outset. Actually, you could punish him a lot more by keeping him married to both, and letting both of them know of about his other marriage. They'll do a much better job of punishing him than the justice system could ever do.

If this has happened, you could also contact the local prosecutor's office and report him.

Good luck.



what's the definition of a legal marriage? For instance, if someone married to another woman but not legally, maybe religiously, how can he be prosecuted?

Theodore W. Robinson

Theodore W. Robinson


The determining factor is whether a marriage license was issued and if it was, then it is a legal marriage. If the person who applied for the license lied on the application, then that's a potential problem of some considerable proportions - especially if they were not yet divorced from the first wife.


Mr. Lampert should thank Mr. Robinson for his confirmation of an obvious answer. It is impossible to be married to two women at the same time, the second marriage is not valid.


What will happen depends upon the state in which the case occurs. In New York, a second marriage is not void, but voidable.

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