One of the requirements for a legally valid marriage is that both spouses should not be in an existing marriage or domestic partnership with someone else. When a person who is married marries another person, then he or she is guilty of bigamy. Bigamy is a punishable offense.


The punishment and penalty for bigamy depends on the state law. In Californiathe penalty for bigamy is a jail term not exceeding 1 year or a fine up to $10,000. If the spouse of the bigamist is aware that he or she is married, the spouse will also be charged $ 5000.


Bigamy is different from polygamy. In polygamy a person has more than one spouse and all live together voluntarily but in bigamy one spouse does not know about the existence of the other.


First of all bigamy is an offense punishable by law. The bigamist will be sentenced according to state law. The second “marriage” will not be legally recognized as a marriage and both the husband and wife will not have any legal rights given to legally married husband and wife. The second “marriage” is a void marriage and can never become a legal marriage.


If your spouse was already married or in a domestic partnership with someone else at the time of your marriage, you can apply to have your marriage annulled. You cannot apply for divorce because your marriage is not a legally valid marriage. You can apply for annulment at anytime after you realized that your spouse was married or in a domestic partnership with someone else at the time of your marriage. There is no residency requirement for filing an annulment petition. Also unlike a divorce petition, the court can grant an annulment immediately upon trail. However every annulment petition must go through trial and the petitioning spouse must prove the first marriage or domestic partnership. If you have children from the marriage you are seeking to annul, you can seek child support orders from the court.


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