Legal Hypothetical: Provision for multiple wives


JAKE belongs to a religious group that practices polygamy.

He meets and falls in love with Amy, another member of the group and they are eventually married.

A few years into their marriage, Jake has taken two more wives.

A religious wedding ceremony is held for each subsequent marriage.

Although the law does not recognize polygamy and only Jake and Amy are legally married, in the eyes of their congregation, all three women are his wives.

They all share a home together and are, for the most part, financially dependent on Jake and collectively raise their children together.

Decades later, Jake is tragically killed in an accident.

He did not have a will.

He had often stated that he didn’t believe in wills and that everything would ‘sort itself out’.

Over his life, Jake had accumulated a substantial property portfolio which was now worth over 3 million dollars.

Amy is advised by her solicitor that she, and the other wives will need to apply to the Supreme Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

In an Affidavit, Amy explains to the Court that, while she was Jake’s legal spouse, the other wives had been living in a de facto relationship with Jake for decades.

She goes into detail about the wedding ceremonies.

Although the ceremonies were not legally binding, they are given weight by the Court.

The Court also considers that all three wives were financially dependent on Jake, they all had children to him and they were all considered to be his spouses within their community.

The Court makes a Grant of Letters or Administration that entitles Amy and the other wives to an equal portion of Jake’s estate, which they are able to administer with the help of their solicitor.

Thank you to Jamie Visco for his assistance with his column.

If YOU would like a particular issue addressed, please email Manny at [email protected] or call him on (02) 6648 7487.


By Manny WOOD, Solicitor

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