Did you watch the fantastic Ninth season Christmas Special for Doctor Who last week? The yearly event marked the return of River Song, a fan favorite and the wife of the illustrious Doctor as of the Sixth Season. River Song is an inter-galactic archaeologist, bouncing through time and space studying, stealing, and adventuring, often on her own and many times with the Doctor. But this post isn’t about the aweswomeness of River Song.
This post is about the bigamy of River Song.
Bigamy is obviously mentioned in this episode as we’re introduce to two more husbands of River’s, with a mention of a wife as well. This is all contemporaneous with her marriage to the Doctor, which occurred earlier. I know it’s confusing; as the 12th Doctor himself said, “You might need a flow chart”. River married the Doctor’s 11th Incarnation in the Sixth Season and in appeared in a few more episodes after that. She hasn’t appeared at all since the 12th Doctor began in the Eight Season. So, we assume then that some time has passed.
Bigamy and polygamy are codified criminally in O.C.G.A. 16-6-20, and occurs when a person “being married and knowing that his lawful spouse is living, marries another person or carries on a bigamous cohabitation with another person”. Obviously, in the state of Georgia, River Song is guilty of bigamy. However, it’s an affirmative defense to the crime of bigamy if “the prior spouse has been continually absent for a period of seven years, during which time the accused did not know the prior spouse to be alive, or that the accused reasonably believed he was eligible to remarry.”
Hmm. This defense may work for River Song, however, with all the time travel in Doctor Who it’d be tough to nail down exactly how much time has passed between River and the Doctor since their last encounter. We know she’s been searching the galaxy for him, assuming that he was still in his 11th Incarnation (played by Matt Smith). At the start of the Christmas Special, she doesn’t know he’s regenerated into the 12th Doctor (played by Peter Capaldi).
So, switching gears, how does bigamy and polygamy factor into family law?
In Georgia, you cannot be married to multiple people. If one spouse is still legally married to another living person, any subsequent marriages of that spouse would be “void”, meaning that the latter marriages were never valid to begin with.
This means that every marriage of River Song’s after her marriage to the Doctor in the Sixth Season, in layman’s terms, “doesn’t count”. Maybe River knew this when she entered into her post-Doctor nuptials. Furthermore, this would mean that River Song could easily have her subsequent marriage(s) annulled in Georgia, a process that’s actually pretty rare and only granted in specific circumstances, such as in cases of bigamy as described above.
And why wouldn’t River have her marriages annulled? It’s every girl’s dream to be married to a thousand year old time traveling alien with two hearts and a TARDIS. And I’m sure River and the Doctor will have many more adventures in the future, but: “Spoilers, sweetie”.