Can I marry more than one person

The difficult handling of polygamous marriages

Vienna - In Austria the legal situation is unequivocal. Polygamy, i.e. plural marriage, is clearly forbidden according to the domestic marriage law. "A marriage is void if a part was in a valid marriage or registered partnership with a third person at the time it was entered into," says Paragraph 24.

But how does Austria deal with immigrants who have legally entered into polygamous marriages abroad? After all, in some African and Arab countries it is legal to marry two or more women. Team Stronach MP Martina Schenk wanted answers to this as part of a series of parliamentary questions.

No reason for nullity

That of the Ministry of Justice shows that the subject is not that easy from a legal point of view. If a multiple marriage was permissible in the country of origin, then “purely theoretically” in Austria “no grounds for invalidity”, as the minister Wolfgang Brandstetter (ÖVP) writes.

However, international private law still has to be taken into account. According to this, provisions are not to be applied if they are incompatible with the "basic values ​​of the Austrian legal system".

Check in each individual case

The courts in Austria would therefore have to examine in individual cases whether this incompatibility exists. The stronger the domestic connection - for example in the form of a habitual residence - "the less strange results of the application of foreign law are accepted," says the Ministry of Justice.

In Germany, for example, polygamous marriages are to be recognized when it comes to claims (alimony) of the two wives against the man. Such a case could be decided in a similar way in Austria.

According to the Ministry of Justice, children from multiple marriages that were legally concluded abroad are "as a rule to be regarded as legitimate". According to Austrian law, children from void marriages would also be considered legitimate. In general, however, there has been hardly any case law on the subject so far, they say.

Actions for annulment

The STANDARD also wanted to know from the department how often the state initiates nullity suits in connection with polygamy. In addition to the current and previous partners, the public prosecutor's office may also file applications for the nullity of marriages. However, there are no statistics on this. In addition, a spokeswoman assumes that the main application of nullity actions are classic marriage swindlers. But as I said: there are no concrete figures.

According to the Ministry of the Interior, it is legally clear that a husband may not bring second or third wives to Austria as part of family reunification. In this case, according to the Interior Department, there would be a clear contradiction to the "basic values ​​of the Austrian legal system". The same applies to marriages with minors. Because: A spouse who wants to come to Austria as part of family reunification must have already reached the age of 21.

Bad data

Team Stronach MP Schenk also wanted to know whether there are any figures on how many second or third women are integrated into the labor market or live on social welfare. However, there is also no data on this, as Alois Stöger's Social Affairs Ministry (SPÖ) announced. From the point of view of the department, there is also "no need to collect such data".

All the ministries involved agree that the current legal situation is sufficient. (Günther Oswald, 9.4.2016)