The administrative court in Linköping has upheld the decision to grant a 32-year-old woman living in Eskilstuna housing subsidies from the Social Insurance Fund. The woman was recognized as single, because Swedish law doesn't recognize bigamy, the legal newspaper Dagens Juridik reported. Previously, the decision to grant the polygamist with three children housing allowance was appealed by the social insurance ombudsman.
According to the woman herself, she is married to a man who happens to have another wife which, according to her is consistent with his religion, as it allows up to four wives. The woman herself said the man alternates between living with her and his other wife, where he is also officially registered. The man is also the father of the "unmarried" polygamist's children. There is no proof from any foreign authority confirming the multiple marriage.
While only two people may be considered spouses according to Swedish law, the social insurance ombudsman pointed out that the woman isn't de facto single, but is in fact engaged in a relationship, even though her cohabiter is registered at another address. According to the ombudsman, the housing allowance should be calculated based on her concubinage.
The administrative court, however, ruled that since polygamy is not recognized by the Swedish legal system, the man's multiple marriage is not formally registered, which allowed his second wife, formally "single," to keep the housing benefits.
"If a man has four 'wives' but is married to only one of them, the other three get a ‘benefit bingo,'" a user wrote in Dagens Juridik's comments section
Although polygamy is not allowed in Sweden, it still recognizes multiple marriages concluded abroad. Following the influx of asylum seekers predominantly from Muslim countries, where polygamy is fully acceptable, Sweden is currently estimated to have some 300 cases of polygamy, with a potentially higher number of unregistered cases below the authorities' radar.