Reference Number: 
CTAS-421

A second marriage cannot be contracted before the dissolution of the first.  However, the first marriage is regarded as dissolved for this purpose if either party has been absent five (5) years, and is not known to the other to be living.  T.C.A. § 36-3-102; Douglas v. Douglas, 6 Tenn. App. 12 (1927); Hall v. Hall, 13 Tenn. App. 683 (1932).  Bigamy is a Class A misdemeanor.  T.C.A. § 39-15-301.

Because bigamous marriages are prohibited by statute, such marriages are void ab initio (i.e., void from the beginning).  These marriages are not recognized by the courts and cannot be ratified by the parties.  Guzman v. Alvares, 205 S.W.3d 375 (Tenn. 2006).