Going through a divorce is difficult for anyone, but the process becomes especially challenging for those living in a non-traditional family. Polyamorous families typically consist of three parents. Some of the children born into the family may not be the biological offspring of one of the parents. This can make custody issues during a divorce particularly challenging.
If you are in a polyamorous family and considering divorce, you need to understand how the court will determine custody.
The court will consider the interests of the child.
Custody battles are often thought to be about the parents involved in a divorce, but determining custody is actually a process that takes into account the best interests of the child. A child doesn't have the option to vote whether or not his or her parents divorce.
In order to reduce the negative impact a divorce will have on the child, custody arrangements usually attempt to maintain familial relationships between parent and child. Even if you are not the biological parent of a child in your polyamorous family, you may have a valid argument for custody.
If the children have grown up recognizing all three adults in a polyamorous relationship as their parents, then maintaining relationships with all three parents is in the best interest of the children.
The court will consider parenting time.
Another factor that the court takes into consideration when determining issues of child custody is the amount of time an individual has spent parenting the children within their family. The primary caregiver typically has a greater claim to custody because he or she has been providing for the needs of the child most actively throughout the marriage.
In a polyamorous family, the primary caregiver may not be the biological parent of all the children in the household. Proving that you are the primary caregiver will help you establish a claim to custody rights following your divorce.
The court will consider precedent.
The legal system relies heavily on precedent when making decisions. Precedent refers to any similar cases that have already been decided. A judge can use these cases as a guideline to help him or her determine the best way to rule on your divorce case.
There is precedent for custody settlement in a polyamorous family. Dawn M. v Michael M., a case that was decided in New York, establishes precedent for a non-biological parent to receive custody rights in a polyamorous divorce.
For more information and tips, work with an experienced divorce lawyer from a firm like Nichols, Speidel, & Nichols.Share