back to the original question:
After watching "Sister Wives" on T.V. tonight, the reality show that chronicles the lives of a man and his four wives in Utah, I got to thinking about polygamy and the law. And while I'm not a proponent of such a lifestyle , for the life of me I cannot figure out why in the world it should be against the law..?
I read somewhere that the recognition of common law marriage
in a dozen U.S. states, including Utah - it is by default a one-on-one thing - would make it illegal for a man who is living in such a not-initially-formalized but obviously long-term, steady home relationship, a marriage, with a woman, to enjoy a similar marriagelike relationship with another woman at the same time. If he did, it would instantly mean he had committed polygamy, not just been adulterous (adultery of course isn't a legal offence in the Western world anymore). So a de facto
marriage, where they share a home regularly, might have kids together and do most of the things married couples normally do - except sign full marriage papers - would lead to some civil duties and it would preclude another similar marriage.
Sometimes this kind of marriage can be fixed with documents of its own, though that will only happen after it's been a steady affair with the same home for at least a full year. Otherwise though, it seems this status can be conferred
on the couple as a "state of obvious trust" when it would be vital for the prosecution from outside of a legal case, even if the couple have not asked for any recognition and don't want it. In countries where common law marriage ("marriage by conscience") isn't recognized as being legally valid at all (e.g. practically all of Europe), polygamy of a Mormon kind would be technically possible if both/all wives tolerate it and if those people are not ostracized by the community they live in. Even if the neighbours wouldn't react, it's likely that social authorities in the city those people lived in would get word of it and take action though.
In Canada, Saskatchewan, which has common-law marriage, also permits multiple live-in partners for both parties involved in a common-law marriage - that must be almost unique for a western nation.