Is this situation considered bigamy in the state of MN?

My mother is legally married to my
father, who has a record of assault
charges against her all dropped. My
father was never faithful to my mother
and has recently
CULTURALLY/traditionally married a
second wife. Because cultural marriage
only, it is not a marriage with legal
license. Would this still be considered
bigamy?

My father also is not willing to just
let her part ways because she provides
100 of his support. In circumstances,
everthing they have would have to be
split 50/50. Is there anything we could
do so my mother has leverage?

Thank you in advance.

Asked on May 6, 2016 under Family Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A "cultural" marriage is not bigamy under the law, because it has no legal effect. It means nothing more legally than saying she is his girlfriend.
Your father has no say over whether your mother can "part ways" or not: she can get a divorce regardless of what he wants. Yes, he will in your state get 50% of her assets, and he will also likely be entitled to spousal suppport from her--but right now, she is supporting him anyway, and what she has acquired during marriage is his as well as hers (he has equal access and rights to marital property as her), so there really is no economic downside to divorce and indeed, there is upside, since it will reduce her from supporting him 100% to simply paying whatever support the court orders and will let her end up with half their assets free of him.


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