Assessment of bigamous & polygamous marriages for WidB

Note: WidB ceased on 20 March 2020. The following information is for historical purposes only.


This topic discussed how to assess bigamous and polygamous marriages for the purposes of qualification for WidB.

Innocent party to a bigamous marriage

A woman who was the innocent party to a bigamous marriage MAY have qualified for WidB as a deserted wife if:

  • her purported marriage was void, AND
  • the Secretary was satisfied that at the time of the marriage, she believed it to be valid, AND
  • the husband had deserted her, without just cause, for at least 6 months - the test of desertion without just cause being applied as if the marriage had been valid.

Polygamous marriages

If a man has more than 1 wife, or (under Australian law) had illegally married a second wife while still married to the first, only the first wife or the 1 he specifically nominated was regarded as a wife for the purpose of WidB.

If the man died or deserted his wives, WidB could only be paid to the first wife or the specifically nominated wife. However, WidB MAY have been payable to a woman if she was able to qualify as a:

  • dependent female (defined in SSAct section 362(1)) if, for 3 years immediately before the man's death, the couple lived together on a bona fide domestic basis and the woman was wholly or mainly maintained by him, OR
  • deserted wife because she was, in the Secretary's opinion, the innocent party to a bigamous marriage and her husband has deserted her without just cause for a period of 6 months.

Other wives may have been considered for PPS if they qualified.

Act reference: SSAct pre-20 March 2020 section 362(1) Qualification for WidB

Last reviewed: 20 March 2020