Few things in life are as shocking, upsetting, and heart-wrenching as discovering that your husband has another wife or entire family. In either case, not only do you have grounds for divorce, but you also may be in a position to sue for civil damages, recover a substantially larger portion of the marital property, or even press criminal charges against the bigamist.
What Is Bigamy?
Bigamy, also referred to as polygamy, is the act of marrying another person while already married to someone else. It is illegal in Illinois and is punishable as a Class 4 felony. Unfortunately, 17 percent of Americans now believe that bigamy is morally acceptable—10 percent higher than in 2001 when Gallup began keeping track of this data. While many Americans have warmed to the idea that bigamy is okay for society, the facts show otherwise. Bigamy has negative consequences for children, society at large, and the wives of the bigamist. Bigamy is almost always committed by men.
Is My Marriage Even Valid?
If you found out that your husband has another wife, the first step is to determine which marriage came first, because the second marriage is illegitimate. As such, divorce is not necessary. Issues such as child custody and child support will need to be settled in the courts by a family law attorney, however. Furthermore, division of assets and alimony are not treated the same because the marriage never existed. The victimized spouse, in this case, can pursue compensation in a civil lawsuit....