Bigamy vs Digamy: What’s the Difference?

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Summary: Bigamy is getting remarried before a previous marriage has ended, while digamy is getting remarried after divorce or the previous spouse has died.

In the article that follows, we’ll explain more about each.

Bigamy vs Digamy: What’s the Difference?

Disclaimer

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What is Bigamy?

Bigamy is a criminal offense.

This offense may be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the state where the case could be filed.

The elements of the offense of bigamy may differ some from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they are usually something like:

  • while legally married
  • an individual marries someone else other than his spouse in the same state, a different state, or different country,

or

  • knowing that another person is married
  • an individual marries said person in the same state, a different state, or different country

The statutes make it criminal for both the already married person and the person marrying the already married person.

What is Digamy?

Digamy (aka deuterogamy) is a second legal marriage, after the valid termination of the previous marriage(s) by divorce, annulment, or death.

Digamy has no criminal implications like bigamy does, though there may be religious implications depending upon the person’s beliefs or community.

While there are millions of digamists in the world, the term “digamist” is rarely used and is not well-known.

Compared to Trigamy

Digamy refers to a second legal marriage after the termination of the first valid marriage by death or divorce.

In contrast, trigamy refers to a third legal marriage after the termination of the first and second valid marriages by death or divorce.

Naturally, quadrigamy refers to the fourth legal marriage after the termination of the first, second, and third valid marriages by death or divorce.

Bigamy vs Digamy

Historically, bigamy and digamy were considered to mean the same thing.

(Back in a time and in communities when it was not acceptable to marry again regardless of whether the previous marriage ended in divorce or death or at all).

Thinking of Reporting Bigamy or Encouraging The Filing of Bigamy Charges?

Before pursing the charges, it might be worthwhile to sit down with an attorney who has experience in both criminal law and family law in the state where the bigamy case would likely be prosecuted.

The attorney can help troubleshoot whether the reporting individual faces any criminal implications of her own, and how the bigamy could impact the familial situation (children, support, property, benefits).

In some states, there are civil claims that can be asserted for pain and suffering.

Facing Bigamy Charges?

The best thing to do is confer with an attorney who has experience with both family law and criminal defense.

If the situation involves immigration issues, definitely confer with an immigration law specialist, as it is rare for criminal defense lawyers or family law attorneys to be well-versed in immigration law in addition to defense and/or family law.

Wrap Up

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Bigamy vs Digamy