polygamy (p[schwa]-lig-[schwa]-mee), n.

1. The state or practice of having more than one spouse simultaneously.

¡ª Also termed simultaneous polygamy; plural marriage. [Cases: Bigamy

1. C.J.S. Bigamy ¡ì¡ì 2¨C6, 8.]

2. Hist. The fact or practice of having more than one spouse during one’s lifetime, though never simultaneously. ? Until the third century, polygamy included remarriage after a spouse’s death because a valid marriage bond was considered indissoluble.

¡ª Also termed successive polygamy; serial polygamy; sequential marriage. Cf. BIGAMY; MONOGAMY. ¡ª polygamous, adj. ¡ª polygamist, n.

¡°Polygamy (many marriages) is employed at times as a synonym of bigamy and at other times to indicate the simultaneous marriage of two or more spouses.¡± Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 458 (3d ed. 1982).

¡°[T]his one-marriage-at-a-time rule behind which the legal systems of the West have seemingly thrown so much weight is not what a sociologist would call a general prohibition of polygamy. Polygamy can be simultaneous (if more than one spouse is simultaneously present) or successive (if spouses are married one after the other). Only simultaneous polygamy is prohibited by the laws with which we are here concerned. These statutes reserve the use of the word polygamy for that kind which is not very common among us. They do not affect the serial form, which is so very popular in the United States and Western Europe that … the law is fast changing to adapt to it.¡± Mary Ann Glendon, The Transformation of Family Law 52 (1989).

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