Registering a baby of a Bigamist

Living overseas. Went to the Embassy but they started questioning me because my second wife has a passport with the same name as mine. Maybe I made a mistake by stating that I am married and tried to put my second wife off as not being married to me.

Would it be easier if I say nothing about the first wife and just pretend I am only married to the second?
Do Embassies have a way of knowing if I am married to two women?

I’m not a lawyer, but as far as I know, a US embassy in a foreign country where bigamy is legal has nothing to say about it if a US citizen resident in that country has contracted bigamous marriages in accordance with that country’s laws.

Where the US government will have something to say is if you try to bring either or both of your wives back to the US, or obtain any kind of recognition for them from the US government, while maintaining that you’re married to both of them. AFAIK the US government will not endorse or recognize bigamous marriage.

You should register the child’s birth with the US embassy, though, if you want the child recognized as holding US citizenship. If the child’s mother’s marital status as your wife is doubtful from the US point of view, you’ll have to jump through more hoops, but you should be able to register the birth and claim US citizenship even if the baby is technically illegitimate by US standards:

Just to get the facts straight: So you actually are married to two women? And you have a second wife who’s the mother of the baby and who you took along to the embassy to have the birth certified? And you told them you’re married, but not to that woman, which they noticed because your second wife has the same family name as you?

Well, I don’t want to say you’re in serious trouble, but maybe it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer - not just for the birth certificate thing; but in Western societies, bigamy is a criminal offence, and it’s no defence arguing that you were living in another country. You won’t make things better by continuing to lie to the embassy.

As to your question whether embassies have a way of finding out who you are married to: To my knowledge, the U.S. (unlike some other countries maybe) do not have a central marriage database where every concluded marriage is entered and which embassies routinely check when doing business with their citizens; and even if such a database existed, marriages concluded by other countries’ authorities wouldn’t be entered. So chances are you could get along with it for quite a while. Of course, once the embassy gets suspicious, they might dig a bit deeper into it, and then things might be revealed.

Since this is a real-life personal legal problem, I’m moving it from General Questions to IMHO, where you can get all the legal opinions you wish.

samclem Moderator