9. Bigamy and its punishment
The Marriage Law expressly “prohibits bigamy”. The so-called bigamy refers to the act of those who have a spouse and get married again, or who marry someone whom they know has a spouse. There are two forms of bigamy: (1) the act of those who have a spouse or know that another person has a spouse and register a marriage with that person; and (2) the act of those who have a spouse or know that another person has a spouse and, without registering a marriage, continuously and steadily cohabitate and live together in the name of husband and wife. If a person has a spouse or knows that another person has a spouse and lives together with that person, but not in the name of husband and wife and not cohabitate and live together with that person continuously and steadily, such a relationship shall be deemed cohabitation and not bigamy.
The significance of civil sanction on bigamy is reflected in (1) when bigamy is determined, the marriage shall be invalid; (2) when bigamy is determined, divorce shall be allowed; and (3) where bigamy leads to divorce, the no-fault party is entitled to claim damages.
Bigamy is a kind of criminal act violating criminal law, and in accordance with the provisions of Article 258 of the Criminal Law of China, those who have a spouse and get married again, or who marry someone whom they know has a spouse, are to be sentenced to two years or fewer in prison or put under criminal detention.