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To Catch a Bigamist

True story of how Facebook helped identify one man with two wives.

Multiple concurrent marriages is a crime in many countries, and it is common knowledge that divorce attorneys  revel in the current relationship statistics.  They are the ones who really benefit when a decision is made to dissolve the union.  Yet, for those who part ways without seeking a divorce, it is not unusual for the partners to enter into new intimate relationships, and if they want to legally commit to the new relationship, then the first step is to find a lawyer and break ties with the former spouse.

Alan O’Neill, US Prison Officer, is expected to appear in court later this month after failing to divorce his first wife before getting married to wife number two.  He went to great lengths to conceal his previous life, including changing his name. 

He may have spent many years in wedded bliss, living with his new identity and both spouses may have been ignorant to the others’ existence.  However,  both women had Facebook accounts. 

The estranged wife clicked on a link from the “People you may know” feature on her Facebook page which recommends friends to add to your contacts, and found wife number two who had published wedding photographs on her page. 

This prompted wife number one to investigate further and contact authorities.  He now faces prison time, unemployment, and probably, a divorce – or two.

We might be tempted to mock this story and poke fun at the increasing influence technology has on our lives, offer up an argument on “big brother” society, or the explore the victimology, after all – those women both believed they were legally married.  

This is not only a huge oversight on Alan O’Neill’s part.  He proved his worth good and proper, and any future beau might realize he is only out to please himself.  It is also a warning to other women.  How can you be sure your man is not also legally committed to someone else?  Given the high numbers of marriages that end in divorce, surely there is something one can be doing to ensure compatibility, and that an individual is actually free to marry.  But then, that would mean not placing all of your trust in another person, at least until you have checked them out thoroughly.  A difficult thing to do when they are pulling at your heart strings, don’t you think?

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