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By Principal Lawyer, Elise Fordham and Paralegal, Zac Kertesz.
Both polygamy and bigamy are complex and sensitive topics that have garnered significant attention in recent years. In this blog article, we will delve deeper into the law on polygamy and bigamy in Australia.
Firstly, ‘polygamy’ is a term that describes the practice of having multiple relationships or spouses at the same time. Likewise, ‘bigamy’ is the term used to describe the criminal offence of having multiple marriages.
Bigamy refers specifically to the act of going through a marriage ceremony whilst already married.
Yes, bigamy is illegal in Australia. It is illegal to marry someone when you are already married to someone else.
Australian law sets out the illegal act of bigamy in the Marriage Act, where it outlines two criminal offences:
Both these offences carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
The Family Law Act addresses certain instances of legal polygamy:
Lastly, the Marriage Act states that any bigamous marriage (being a marriage whilst one or both parties are already engaged in an active marriage) is legally void.
In conclusion, polygamy is a complex and sensitive issue that has generated much debate and controversy in Australia and around the world. While some individuals may view it as a matter of personal choice or religious belief, it’s important to recognise that polygamy can have significant legal and social consequences.
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