If a person is in a common law marriage and then marries another person formally but without first dissolving the common law marriage, is that bigamy?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If a person is in a common law marriage and then marries another person formally but without first dissolving the common law marriage, is that bigamy?

And if so, has the person they married also committed a crime? For 11 years my estranged partner and I lived as husband and wife, meeting all the requirements for a legally binding common law marriage in our state. Then 6 months ago she left me for another man, actually one of my best friends. Or so I thought. They were formally married 2 weeks ago. Either way, it was completely unexpected, by me at least, and has left me totally devastated. If this man had come to my home and taken anything else, my truck, TV, bow or even my cat, I would have at least some legal recourse. However, he took the thing that was most precious to me in the world and now mistreats her horribly. It is my understanding that there is nothing that I can do about it. After doing some research on common law partnerships, I know that all the same rules apply as with formal marriage when it comes to division of property and such but what about polygamy or bigamy. Is my ex, in fact, a bigamist? How about her spouse?

Asked on February 28, 2018 under Family Law, Texas


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you were in fact married as per the common law requirements of your state, then your wife was not legally free to re-marry without having first obtained a divorce from you. Accordingly, her current "marriage" is void. That having been said, whether or not she would be prosecuted for the crime f bigamy would be  matter for the state to determine under the circumstance and in no way would her "husband" bear any legal liability.

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