From infidelity to open relationships, sexual exclusivity is not as common in marriage as we like to think. Unfortunately, polyamory can create major legal complications, especially for divorcing spouses. The following are a few of the greatest legal pitfalls polyamorous spouses face:
Polygamy Versus Polyamory
First off: the United States does not allow residents to legally wed more than one person at once. This practice is known as polygamy. Polyamory, however, is allowed — residents can carry on multiple romantic relationships. They can also legally wed one person and spiritually wed another. In some states, complications surrounding common law marriage may ensue; if a couple is spiritually wed but behaves as husband and wife, they may be regarded as legally married in the eyes of the law. This is not the case in Minnesota, which abolished common law marriages several decades ago.
Custody and Parenting Time
What if, while married, the polyamorous spouse has a child with an unmarried partner? Spouses and partners can often sort through personal disputes, but children add new complications.
Without marriage, is no automatic presumption of paternity, The polyamorous father must take steps to ensure access to children born outside of marriage. Even if paternity is validated, the married father may find it difficult to secure sufficient parenting time with children born out of wedlock.
As if all this isn’t complicated enough, there are relationships in which the married spouse takes care of children born outside of the marriage. If caretaking spouses divorce, the non-biological parent may lose all rights to custody or parenting time, despite forming close bonds with affected children.
Complications for child support resemble the custody issues outlined above. Without presumption of paternity, the non-married parent may struggle to secure child support. Furthermore, there’s no working model for obtaining child support from multiple caregivers in a polyamorous relationship. Judges cannot order multiple parents to simultaneously provide support for a single child.
Polyamory prompts all kinds of legal headaches. If you, a spouse, or a fellow parent is in a polyamorous relationship (or would like to be), it’s important to be aware of these complications and how they can affect both you and your children.
Outside relationships may not constitute grounds for divorce in Minnesota, but you can still benefit from an attorney who understands your situation. The compassionate team at the law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd. has your back.