Lessons from Islamic Polygamy: A Case for Expanding the American Concept of Surviving Spouse so as to Include De Facto Polygamous Spouses

21 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2008 Last revised: 27 Nov 2009

Michele Alexandre

University of Mississippi - School of Law; University of Mississippi

Abstract

While polygamy. is illegal in the United States, forms of it are still practiced either overtly, pursuant to religious traditions, or covertly, by the maintenance of two or more family units. As a result, any claims, disputes, or abuses that arise in the context of de facto polygamous unions remain irremediable. My focus, in this Article, is not to advocate that polygamy should be legally recognized. Nor is it my purpose to debate the viability or of polygamy. Instead, I am concerned with affording legal remedies for vulnerable individuals living and operating in de facto polygamous unions. In light of the thousands of individuals living in some form of multi-party unions, I propose that it is imperative to construct adequate legal options remedies for the parties involved in these unions. In this Article, I evaluate how a women-centric interpretation of the Qur'anic treatment of Islamic polygamy might help us assess how to best protect American women involved in de facto polygamous unions. In addition, I advocate a redefinition of the concept of the surviving spouse in American estate distribution will help to legally protect de facto spouses in the inheritance context. Finally, I further propose that the common law marriage doctrine be used to help prove the existence of de facto polygamous unions.

Suggested Citation

Alexandre, Michele, Lessons from Islamic Polygamy: A Case for Expanding the American Concept of Surviving Spouse so as to Include De Facto Polygamous Spouses. Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 64, No. 4, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1115184

Michele Alexandre (Contact Author)

University of Mississippi ( email )

Oxford, MS 38677
United States

University of Mississippi - School of Law ( email )

Lamar Law Center
P.O. Box 1848
University, MS 38677
United States

Paper statistics

Downloads
122
Rank
190,361
Abstract Views
980