Bigamy Vs Polygamy

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the words “bigamy” and “polygamy.” Many people use them interchangeably, but they actually have very different meanings. Here is Bigamy vs Polygamy

Polygamy, the practice of having numerous spouses, is frequently mistaken for bigamy, the act of marrying multiple people. While polygamy is permitted in some countries, bigamy is not. Let’s look at the contrasts between these two practices in more detail. Polygamy and bigamy vary primarily in that polygamy is permitted in some parts of the world, whereas bigamy is not.

Polygamous relationships are legal in Nigeria, Malaysia, and Indonesia, although bigamous marriages are prohibited in the majority of countries. Each spouse has their own partner in a polygamous relationship, but just one spouse has another partner in a bigamous marriage.

Polygamy refers to having numerous spouses, whereas bigamy refers to possessing two marriage licenses. There are a lot of misconceptions regarding both phrases, so in this post, we’ll look at the distinctions between the two and debunk some of the most prevalent ones. This article about bigamy vs. polygamy may help you make up your mind.


The act of marrying someone else while remaining married to someone else is known as bigamy. In many countries, this is considered a felony, especially when the two spouses are unaware of each other’s marriage.

Bigamy occurs when a person marries another without first obtaining a formal divorce from his first husband. If the offender has not properly ended the first marriage, the second marriage is declared invalid in a court of law. Despite the fact that monogamous marriages are common in many nations, certain countries accept bigamous marriages.


Polygamy refers to having multiple spouses at the same time. It entails having sexual relations with numerous partners, either before or after marriage. Polygamy is more of religious or cultural practice than sexual activity. Polyandry is when a woman is married to more than one guy at the same time.

There are two varieties of polyandry. A marriage in which the husbands are brothers is known as fraternal polyandry, while a marriage in which the husbands are unrelated is known as non-fraternal polyandry. Polygyny is when a guy is married to more than one woman at the same time.

There are two varieties of polygyny: sororal polygyny and nonsoroal polygyny. A marriage in which the co-wives or both spouses are sisters is known as sororal polygyny. A group marriage occurs when a family unit comprises numerous wives and husbands.

All of the spouses in a polygamous marriage normally live in the same house. As a result, both spouses are well aware of the existence of the other. Polygamy is generally tolerated in many traditional civilizations, despite the fact that it is not recognized by law in many Western countries.

Polygamy is permitted in several religions. This can be seen in nations with large Muslim populations, such as India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Polygamy is only lawful for Muslims in these nations.

Polygamy Vs. Bigamy

Polygamy is the tradition or practice of having many spouses at the same time, whereas bigamy is the act of having two marriages without obtaining formal separation from the first.

1. By Definition

The act of marrying someone another while already married to someone else is known as bigamy. The two spouses in a bigamous marriage are frequently unaware of each other’s existence. Polygamy refers to the practice of having multiple wives or husbands at the same time. The spouses in a polygamous marriage are aware of one other’s existence.

2. Etymology

‘Poly’ is a term that means more than one.’ As a result, polygamy refers to having several married partners. ‘Bi,’ on the other hand, means ‘two.’ The term “bigamy” refers to the practice of having two spouses.

3. Legality

Polygamy is permitted in a number of nations around the globe. In some societies, it may also be a religious or cultural requirement. Bigamy is outlawed in almost every country on the planet.

4. Religion

Bigamy is typically not a religious practice, although polygamy is frequently both religious and cultural. The majority of the time, bigamy is not sanctioned by religious views. Polygamy, on the other hand, is a religiously sanctioned practice in many cultures, including the Muslim faith. Polygamous marriages are preferred over monogamous marriages in many cultures.

5. Households

The household structures in each of these types of marriages are likewise highly varied. A bigamist frequently keeps two residences separate. A polygamist’s spouses, on the other hand, frequently live in the same house. Polygamists live in a single enormous house. In polygamous marriages, single large families are prevalent.

6. Knowledge of Spouses

The degree of knowledge that the spouses hold also differs between the two types of marital partnerships. The two spouses in a bigamous marriage are usually unaware of each other’s existence. In a polygamous marriage, on the other hand, both spouses are aware of each other’s existence.

7. Sub-categories

Polygamous marriages can take two forms. Polygamous marriages can be divided into two types: polyandry and polygyny. There are no such distinctions in bigamy. Polyandry and polygyny are the two basic types of polygamous marriages, although bigamous marriages have no known sub-categories.

8. Scope

Polygamy has a broader definition because it includes bigamy. Polygamists are all bigamists. Bigamy, on the other hand, has limited use. Bigamists are not all polygamists.

Bigamy Law In The United States

Bigamy is a criminal violation in all 50 states in the United States. Individual state laws, on the other hand, determine whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor. To conduct bigamy in the United States, you must first marry one spouse lawfully, then apply for a second or third marriage license and complete the second or third marriage ceremony before divorcing the first spouse.

Bigamy is a felony when it is done on purpose and almost always involves deception. The spouse with numerous spouses has hidden the fact that they are married to multiple persons in bigamous marriage unions. Bigamy, whether intentional or inadvertent, can prevent you from becoming a citizen of the United States.

Polygamy Law In The United States

Polygamy is a criminal in the United States, punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. Each state has its own set of penalties for polygamy. Polygamy is defined by the USCIS as having more than one spouse at the same time. All spouses are aware of the marital ties in a polygamous marriage, yet they choose to embrace polygamy for cultural or religious reasons.

If you do not belong to certain religion or culture that acknowledges polygamy as a practice or standard, you are not considered a polygamist. If an applicant for U.S. citizenship is suspected of being in a polygamous marriage, USCIS will conduct a comprehensive investigation. It is not against the law to believe in polygamy, but it is against the law to actively conduct it because many immigrants come from cultures that have practiced it.

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