– section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958

The charge of Bigamy is used where the police think a person is legally married to 2 or more people.
Examples of Bigamy
  • A person just moved to Australia from England. In England, the person has a wife from whom he separated 3 years ago, but did not divorce. The person gets married in Australia without getting divorced from his first wife.
  • A person separated from her previous husband 4 years ago. She marries someone without first getting divorced from her first husband.
What are some of the possible defences to a Bigamy charge?
  • The previous husband or wife has passed away.
  • The first marriage was not legally binding.

We had a client who was married in India and not properly divorced. He pleaded guilty and was given a fine as penalty

Questions that are asked in cases like this:
  • How can they prove there was a legally binding previous marriage?

Maximum penalty and Court that deals with Bigamy

The maximum penalty for this offence is 5 years.
This is a charge that would be heard in the Magistrates’ Court.

“Was the previous marriage lawful?”
What is the legal definition of Bigamy?

The legal definition of Bigamy is when a person who is legally married gets married to another person.


The section that covers this offence is section 64 of the Crimes Act 1958.1

prison penalty sentencing

What can you be sentenced to for Bigamy?

Only the most serious Bigamy offences will mean a period of gaol.

Now that property rights do not depend so much simply on being married the Courts do not usually put people in gaol for bigamy.

Other Important Resources


[1] Crimes Act 1958 – Section 64

Whosoever being married goes through the form or ceremony of marriage with any other person during the life of her or his husband or wife, shall be guilty of an indictable offence, and shall be liable to level 6 imprisonment (5 years maximum). Nothing in this section contained shall extend to any person going through the form or ceremony of marriage as aforesaid whose husband or wife has been continually absent from such person for the space of seven years then last past and has not been known by such person to be living within that time; or shall extend to any person who at the time of her or his going through such form or ceremony of marriage has been divorced from the bond of the marriage; or to any person whose marriage at such time has been declared void by the sentence of any court of competent jurisdiction.