For some of the people tying the knot in just one marriage is just not enough. Some people prefer getting married more than one time. When you are getting married to more than one person, this concept is referred to as bigamy and it is often frowned upon. This act is considered illegal in Florida, as well as all 49 other states in the U.S. There are some countries around the world that do consider the act of bigamy to be legal, but it is not legal in the U.S.
Besides bigamy being illegal, it can also be a reason to end your relationship or file for divorce in Florida. If you are involved in a bigamous relationship, here are a few things you should know.
Are Bigamy and Polygamy Different From One Another?
The terms polygamy and bigamy are entirely different from one another, but they are often used interchangeably. Bigamy takes place when one person is involved a relationship of marriage with another person but has not ended their other marriage legally. Bigamy is typically a secretive relationship and the two marital spouses sharing a spouse are not aware of the other spouse when they enter into a marriage with the shared spouse.
Polygamy, on the other hand, is also based on the act of getting married to more than one spouse, but it is not a secretive relationship at all. Instead, you let your spouse know about each other and many times they even live in the same home together with the shared spouse.
What the Law Says About Bigamy
Under Florida Statute Section 826.01, the act of bigamy is considered to be taking place when any men or women have more than one husband or wife at one time. This is a third-degree felony in which the punishment could include a fine up to $5,000. If found guilty, you may also be sentenced up to four to five years in prison.
In some other states, the spouse can be charged with the criminal act as well if they already know that the person whom they are getting married is already married. The course of punishment or the level of punishment will be different in different states. In some of the states, the range of penalty is typically six months to ten years of imprisonment. The amount of fine may range from $500 to a maximum of $100,000.
Although some cases of bigamy may take place on purpose, many times it does not. It might happen accidentally when your divorce is not finalized due to technical issues. In the U.S., if your spouse has gone somewhere and they have not contacted you for five years, you are legally allowed to get into another marriage relationship with another spouse.