Is 'My Five Wives' Williams Family's Situation Legal? They Shouldn't Face the Same Problem as the 'Sister Wives'

There's a lot to think about while watching TLC's My Five Wives. Aside from the fact that, in our society, it isn't exactly common to share your spouse with anyone else — and the whole 24 kids thing, which can be pretty distracting too. One major concern: If polygamy is obviously illegal, how are these people comfortable going on TV and pretty much bragging that they're breaking the law? It's not that simple, though. Although it's easy to want to pass judgment on the situation Brady Williams has going on at home, his audience watching from the couch should be the least of his concerns. The law has to come into play sometime. If polygamy is their deal, so be it, but is the Williams' family situation actually legal?

To answer that question: Yes and no. The act of legally marrying more than one person is illegal in all 50 states, but that's not quite what Brady's family is doing. They've gone the more modern, legal route, following the road paved by Sister Wives ' Kody Brown and his family.

In case you haven't seen Sister Wives (although if you're watching My Five Wives, I bet you have), early in the show's run, Kody and his wives faced an investigation from Utah police into whether or not they were breaking the law. The Browns had their bases covered, though — Kody was only legally married to his first wife, Meri, while the rest of the wives were married to him via "spiritual union." No harm, no foul, right?

Wrong. Utah was still pretty mad about it, because they had this no cohabitation law that made what the Browns were doing illegal anyway. But it didn't take long for Kody and his team of lawyers to successfully strike that law down, and now, polygamist families in Utah are free to live together without fear of arrest, as long as they don't try to acquire multiple marriage licenses. This case has made it possible for the Brown family and the Williams family to be open about who they are, when in the past they needed to hide their family situation in order to dodge the law.

In Brady's case, he's only legally married to Paulie, his first wife, but treats his marriages to the rest of his wives as if they also have the paperwork to back their union up. And, like the Browns, they raise their children as a team, and together, they're one big, usually happy family.

Moral of the story: There might be plenty of things to question about the Williams' lifestyle, but the legality of it isn't one of them.

Image: TLC