Bigamy in North Carolina

by | Oct 28, 2019 | Blog Posts, NC Criminal Defense

What is Bigamy?

In short, “bigamy” occurs when a person who is already married goes through a marriage ceremony with another individual. A bigamous marriage is considered to be illegal in all fifty states. In North Carolina, bigamy is considered to be a felony which is punishable by incarceration. This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as the advice and substitute of a criminal defense attorney.

What Does NC Law Say?

Bigamy is illegal in North Carolina. It is a Class I felony. It is governed by N.C.G.S. 14-183. This statute makes it illegal for a person who is already married to get married to another person. It also makes it illegal for a person who is married to another person in NC or another state to cohabitate in NC.

If a person marries another person in NC while still in a valid marriage, the new marriage is illegal. The party will be punished and the marriage will be invalid.

Even if another state allowed bigamous marriage, it would still be illegal for the couple (of the subsequent marriage) to cohabite in the state of North Carolina.

This crime does not apply if the spouse is deceased or if the couple is divorced or separated.

Anyone who aids or abets this crime will also be guilty of a Class I felony.

Are there Any Exceptions?

N.C.G.S. 14-183 provides some exceptions to individuals who decide to marry again.

  • For a spouse who has been continually absent for seven years and not known to be living during that time;
  • For a spouse who is lawfully divorced from the bond of the first marriage; and,
  • For a spouse whose former marriage has been declared void by the sentence of any court of competent jurisdiction.


If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina and you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, contact us to discuss your options.

DISCLAIMER – This forum is intended for general questions and comments about the particular law or topic. Comments are public and are not protected by confidentiality or attorney-client privilege; therefore, they can be used against you in court. Please refrain from revealing your identify or specifics about any actual criminal case. No attorney-client relationship is created in this forum.

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