Bigamy in Virginia

By | January 26, 2011
fairfax family law

As if one wife wasn’t enough.

South African President Jacob Zuma is giving polygamy a bad name, said Charlotte Bauer of the Mail & Guardian.  Just as that country was getting used to having a president with three (3) wives, news broke that he had fathered his twentieth – yes 20th – child with yet a fourth woman.  Initially, the latest woman denied the claim, but she quickly changed stories after her neighbors tattled to the tabloids about seeing Zuma’s entourage arrive “to offer the customary damages for a child born out of wedlock.”  Interestingly, by engaging in adultery, Zuma apparently lost the support of polygamists, who had been trying to “carve a respectable space” for their practice in modern-day South Africa.  Polygamists thought that with the election of one of their own as president, they had finally been accepted.  But, because of Zuma’s latest conquest, he may have made polygamy look like just another way for a man to sleep around.  Worse yet, fathering the child means he did not use a condom for his adultery – which is disconcerting in a nation with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in the world.

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, bigamy is not terribly common.  Accidental bigamy, however, can sometimes occur when a spouse rushes to remarry before his/her first marriage has been fully dissolved.  In such cases, the second marriage is considered a legal nullity; the second marriage is void and incapable of creating any marital consequences or rights.  Such marriages cannot be later “fixed” or ratified.  Fully “untangling” such relationships can be difficult, particularly where the parties have mingled their assets.  In addition to bigamous marriages, same sex marriages, incestuous marriages and underage marriages are similarly void in the Commonwealth.  If you have concerns about the finality of your divorce (or your spouse’s divorce), feel free to drop me a line.


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