Not every relationship is exclusive, and some couples practice consensual non-monogamy. In a consensual, ethical, or responsible non-monogamous relationship, all participants of the relationship agree to have multiple romantic relationships or sexual partners. There are many forms of consensual non-monogamy, including triads or “throuples” (when 3 people are involved in a romantic relationship and every person is linked with one another), open marriages (when married couples agree to have extramarital sexual relationships), and polyamory (see below).
What Is Polyamory?
Polyamory is the desire for or practice of having intimate, romantic relationships with more than one partner with the informed consent of all partners involved. As the name suggests (poly meaning many, and amour meaning love), polyamorous people are open to falling in love with many people at once.
Because polyamory indicates the presence of love, not every non-monogamous relationship is polyamorous. Some couples have open relationships to explore their sexual orientations or fulfill sexual fetishes, and many non-monogamous relationships are strictly sexual.
Do not confuse polyamory with polygamy, either. Polygamy is marriage to multiple spouses at the same time, and it is illegal in the United States. Polyamory is not defined by marriage.
Further, polygamy is grounds for an annulment, and adultery is grounds for divorce in many states. Meanwhile, polyamory is a choice a couple makes together.
Is Open Marriage Better than Divorce?
The answer to this question depends on the details of your relationship and the reasons your marriage is not working.
If you are heading for a divorce, an open marriage is unlikely to be successful because being in an open relationship requires honesty, communication, and trust – keys that are often missing when a couple is on the verge of divorce. Naturally, open marriages are also more complex than traditional relationships, so if your relationship is already on the rocks, adding more complications may not help.
Nevertheless, boredom, feelings of being “trapped,” or even monogamy itself may be the root of your relationship problems, and every couple is different. Additionally, New York is a no-fault divorce state, so you don’t need to worry about one spouse ending the marriage on the grounds of adultery – especially if both parties agree to practice consensual non-monogamy. (Condonation and recrimination are both defenses to accusations of adultery).
Before opening your marriage, getting divorced, or making another big decision in your relationship, discuss your situation with a licensed marriage and family therapist.
If you are just getting married and planning for an open marriage, consider speaking to an attorney and signing a prenuptial agreement to clarify the nature and expectations of your relationship.
Consensual Non-Monogamy, Polyamory, and Polyparenting
Even if you have more than one romantic partner, you can only have one spouse. This can make marriage a difficult concept in polyamorous partnerships. Similarly, non-monogamous spouses and parents may face discrimination in the courtroom.
For example, winning a child custody battle may be more challenging if you have multiple partners, as the judge may project their stereotypes and prejudices into your case. This is why it is so important to have an understanding, inclusive attorney who will stand up for your rights.
Just like people in traditional relationships, polyamorous people can be excellent parents. In fact, children with multiple responsible adults in their lives can benefit from so-called “polyparenting.”
No matter who – or how many people – you love, you have equal protection under the law.
At Jason M. Barbara & Associates, P.C., we are committed to equality in all facets of life and family law. We have represented clients in same-sex divorces, and we are ready to assist and protect clients in all kinds of nontraditional relationships.
Our team has over 20 years of experience helping families, and we understand that no 2 families are the same.
For personalized legal attention and unwavering dedication in your family law case, please call us at (516) 406-8381 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation.