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Committing Bigamy in the State of Illinois

Posted on in Divorce

bigamy, Class A misdemeanor, committing bigamy, DuPage county divorce attorney, punitive spouse, Wheaton family law attorney, uncovering bigamyThe term bigamy is defined as getting married to one person while legally married to another. In Illinois, committing bigamy is a Class 4 felony. If a person is found guilty of this crime, he or she can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. In fact, a person found guilty of Class 4 in Illinois can be sentenced to no one less than one year, but not more than three.

Upon release, a person may be sentenced to extended probation for up to 30 months. The defendant can also be fined up to $25,000, as well as pay restitution.

Under the law there are several instances which a person can cite as a defense for bigamy. These include:

  • The marriage had been declared invalid or dissolved;
  • The person truly believed the spouse had passed away; and
  • The spouse was consistently absent for a period of five years and the person truly believed the spouse was dead.

A spouse who did not know their husband or wife was still legally married to someone else is referred to as a "punitive spouse" and, according to the law, is entitled to all "the rights conferred upon a legal spouse, including the right to maintenance."

If the individual was aware and decided to go along with the marriage, or became aware but took no action, then the law does not recognize a "spouse" status for them. In the eyes of the law, the couple is only living together and neither is legally protected.

If an individual knowingly marries someone that is committing bigamy, her or she can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. A person found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor may be sentenced up to one year in jail and also fined up to $2,500.

If you have made discoveries about your spouse's past, such as bigamy, and are considering a divorce, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney to ensure you are protected.

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