In various ways, family law and other areas of law encourage and incentivize monogamy. Adultery, for example, remains a crime in the majority of U.S. jurisdictions. Despite this, an increasing number of people in relationships embrace polyamory, live in triads (also known as throuples), quads, or other relationship forms in which at least one person involved has more than one concurrent romantic/sexual/intimate adult relationships or, if coupled, practice consensual non-monogamy. Further, these people are being more open about their poly-relationships. In addition, at least some of these non-traditional families are parenting and an increasing number of jurisdictions are legally recognizing poly-parenting in various ways. This panel will consider the legal and social implications of polyamory and non-monogamy from a variety of perspectives. In particular, the panel will look at the current legal landscape for poly-families, the ways that such families can legally protect their partnerships and their children, even in more conservative jurisdictions, and the sorts of legal reforms that might be pursued to protect and support poly-families in their various forms. The panel will consider (i) practical legal strategies to help polyamorous people and people in poly-relationships to prevent or minimize legal problems (about finances, property, custody of children) and to address these and other legal challenges when they arise in litigation and other disputes, (ii) empirical research on poly-families from a leading social-science researcher, and (iii) longer-term proposals for changes to family law and policy.
CLE Materials: I, II