Polygamy Legal (for Division of Estate)

Posted: 31st January 2011

Polygamy (having multiple spouses at the same time) is prohibited in the UK and entering into a second marriage whilst still married is a criminal offence.
This is not true everywhere, however, and that can have legal consequences in the UK, as a recent case shows.
It involved a Ghanaian man who died while married to more than one woman. The question arose as to the interpretation of the word ‘spouse’ for the purpose of the distribution of his estate.

The court ruled that a spouse who was lawfully married, in accordance with the law of domicile, to an intestate was entitled to be recognised in England in respect of property, including real property, as the surviving spouse. All of the wives were 'the spouse'.