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JLeslie's avatar

If polygamy was legal, how do you think the marriage would work from a legal standpoint?

Asked by JLeslie (65519points) January 8th, 2012

For instance, would the law be that everyone would have to sign the marriage certificate? Let’s say a man and woman marry, and then they want to add an additional spouse, would the first two both be married to the third?

If one dies, do the other two continue to be married? If there was one main bread winner, and he/she dies, do both other spouses get equal portions under the law of his estate? In other words, the original spouse who does not earn an income, when she allows another non-working spouse into the marriage her own inheritance was just cut in half.

What if one decides to get a divorce? How would the alimony or child support work? Does everyone have to sign off on the divorce?

Could the marriage be for an unlimited amount of spouses being added?

Please add any other thoughts.

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5 Answers

digitalimpression's avatar

Throughout the continent, the diversity of systems reflects the traditions, religions, and economic circumstances of a wide variety of distinct cultures

It would be a legal nightmare if you ask me.

“Could the marriage be for an unlimited amount of spouses being added?”
There are still a couple of countries that allow unlimited spouses. For the most part, though, it seems they are figuring out that it is a horrible idea. Some countries have moved to a “max of 4” type law and you can only have 4 if you can support them.

There are so many laws concerning this that if polygamy poofed into existence in the US it would take decades to hash out the laws.

HungryGuy's avatar

If I were supreme evil dictator for life, I’d eliminate all laws regarding marriage.

Marriage per se would be nothing more than a religious ceremony performed by the church of your choice, with no legal meanings whatsoever.

Legally, any two (or more) adults can enter into any contract they want that’s mutually consensual, no different than any business partnership.

Oh and one more detail: I’d get to draft one female of my choice each year to be put into my harem of sex slaves in my grand dictator’s palace…

keobooks's avatar

I have thought quite a bit about this. There are many changes to the infrastructure that I think would have to change to make polygamy valid and workable in the US.

This may sound odd, but the first thing I think would need to happen is major healthcare reform. The way things work now, healthcare is tied to someones employer and to the employee’s spouse. If polygamy was thrown into the mix, there would be so many nightmares.

Companies would likely have to recognize all of the spouses as being eligible for the health insurance benefits. This could cost a lot of money. And I think there would be a chance that people would get into marriage brokerages for insurance benefits. Maybe someone not interested in the romantic aspects of marriage would offer themselves up to marry a few people for a modest fee so that they could gain health insurance benefits.

I have thought of other things, but that’s the first thing that came to mind. Right now health insurance is a hot commodity in our country and I do think that things would get even worse if you threw in polygamy.

Moegitto's avatar

If it were legal, there would have to be a legal limit to the amount of spouses you can have. If everyone were allowed to have 25 wives, there would be an inflamme of incest in our country. Incest lowers IQ and mental development, along with a higher rate of physical deformities. But I think sometime in the future of that timeline the government would still step in and lower the limit of spouses down to a reasonable number (like 1).

Schuyler88's avatar

No matter how it was done, it would be a legal nightmare. Polygamy (several two-person marriages) is distinct from group marriage (more-than-two-person marriages). The only way it could even be attempted would be to only allow for several two-person marriages, which could be entered into or dissolved separately.

Even for “traditional” polygamous marriage, in divorce it would be extremely difficult to determine the assets of the man as opposed to his community property with the other wives. It is interesting that homosexual activists are actually unintentionally driving the USA into having to eventually confront these very issues. I have never once heard a homosexual activist give an intelligent distinction between gay and polygamous marriage from a legal standpoint.

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