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Is Polygamy Legal?

Having more than one spouse is expressly illegal in the United States of America, regardless of a person's religion or culture. Surprisingly, not all families agree that the bigamy marriage laws in the U.S. are fair. Last year, the reality T.V. show Sister Wives became a public display of bigamy and challenged Utah's laws on the subject. The four women who lived with one man and called themselves a unified family were not actually legally bound to each other. However, it certainly seemed that way.

Kody Brown is the husband of 4 wives and the father of 16 children whom he says are a part of his family. As a Mormon, he believes that his religion serves as a reasonable excuse to practice polygamy. The wives are not actually recognized as Kody's lawfully wedded spouses under Utah's laws. Instead, they are cohabiting in the same house, and were "married" in a religious ceremony that excluded the state government or a marriage license. Kody is only legally married to one woman named Meri Brown.

The Brown family left Utah and moved to Nevada when their T.V. show sparked a legal investigation. In Utah, bigamy is a third-degree felony, and a person can be found guilty of the crime through cohabitation as well as through a legal marriage contract. A family attorney decided to challenge Utah's laws by filing a lawsuit. He claimed that people should have their own choice as to how they want to handle their personal lives. If they want to live with more than one persona and have not tried to marry to women or men legally, then he believes they should be free to do that. Essentially, the lawyer said that he thinks that Utah should protect a person's right to be left alone.

Right now, about 38,000 self-described Mormon fundamentalists practice polygamy because they believe it is a mandated part of their religion. Most keep their practices a secret in order to avoid prosecution by the government, though an advocacy for polygamists toured Arizona and Utah last year educating people about the practice. If you have more questions about polygamy or have run into complications with the law regarding a family law issue, hire a family lawyer to help.