Polyamory & The Law

In 2011 the Supreme Court of British Columbia declared polyamory decriminalized, recognizing that the anti-polygamy and anti-bigamy laws do not apply to polyamorous relationships as long as no one marries more than one partner.

see: Supreme Court Releases Decision in Polygamy Reference

Between 2013 to 2016, three separate rulings in British Columbia regarding a custody case found no evidence that being raised in a polyamorous family has a negative effect. They declared a polyamorous father to be a fit parent, and found that his other romantic relationships created a more supportive environment for his children.

see: Xtra Magazine “The court case Canadian poly families have been waiting for”

In 2018 a court in Newfoundland deemed three polyamorous partners to be legal parents of their child, recognising that:

“None of the partners in this relationship is married and, while the identity of the mother is clear, the biological father of the child is unknown”

see: Supreme Court of Newfoundland & Labrador, C.C. (Re), 2018 NLSC 71 April 4, 2018, Fowler, J

In 2021, the Supreme Court of BC made a similar ruling, declaring a second mother as a third parent to the child of a polyamorous relationship. In this case the relationship consisted of two women and one man.

see: CBC News “B.C. Judge orders second mother declared third parent to child of polyamorous trio”

In spite of these groundbreaking rulings, more work is needed to give polyamorous people the same basic rights as monogamous people. Polyamorous parents should have the right to have parentage recognised without going to court; Polyamorous partners should be able to obtain legal recognition of their relationships eg next-of-kin, medical benefits.

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