Category Archives: Legal Stuff

Polyamory and Children: Legal Stuff

Minimal changes here. A few years ago I expanded this topic into a short series. Revised 4/13/17.

I wasn’t planning on tackling this topic for a while yet, but I’m afraid I can’t think of anything else to write on about polyam and children right now. Not because there isn’t much more to say, but because of my own life.

As I’ve mentioned before I was recently involved in a custody situation in which polyamory was made an issue. Largely on the basis of polyamory, the children were taken from me and their father (my ex) and given to their grandparents. Unfortunately I don’t have the money to appeal, and couldn’t get it in the time allowed. (I usually stay out of political stuff, just to jaded I guess, but the fact that if you can’t afford to spend several thousand dollars with less than a month’s notice means you can’t appeal, really gives well off folks a massive advantage in the civil ‘justice’ system, IMO.)

The laws regarding polyamory (and other forms of multi-linking) and children vary significantly from state to state, and country to country, but the general summary in the US is this:

With very rare exceptions, child protective services will not involve themselves unless there is clear evidence of neglect or abuse. Even if there are states whose laws allow the children to be taken away solely on the basis of lifestyle, CPS (or whatever name they go by in a given state) rarely cares, because they are overworked dealing with real cases of child abuse, abandonment and other horrors. So, living openly poly will not generally create any risk of losing your children.

If, however, you ever get involved in a custody battle, being polyamorous may put you at a disadvantage. If both parents have previously been involved in polyamorous relationships, and there is no third party, being poly really can’t have an effect (you’re objecting to your ex being in a type of relationship you’ve been in also? Don’t waste my time). If one parent is poly and the other has never been polyam, or if there is a third party involved, than polyamory can hurt you in a custody case. CAN. As PolyMom discussed in her blog several months ago, and I have experienced myself, it is fully possible for poly to brought up in a custody case and utterly ignored (“When I started as a judge back in 19XX, we called this kind of thing having extra resources. I don’t want to hear about it.”)

Being openly poly with children does not need to open you up to legal liabilities or create any risk of losing your children. However, if you do not explore polyamory until after you and your children’s other parent have separated or divorced, and the other parent is not involved in polyamory, you may put yourself at a disadvantage in custody cases. Your two options to avoid this risk are to either be a closet poly, or, if you think your ex may be open minded about poly, to go openly to them, discuss your desire to be polyamorous. If you are open about your lifestyle with them, and they don’t take issue with it immediately, than they will have a hard time trying to take issue with it in the future. Unfortunately, not exposing children to polyamory does not necessarily protect you. Even if your children have no knowledge of your lifestyle, never met any of your partners, etc etc; the fact that you engage in poly may still be seen as evidence that you are an unhealthy influence on your children do to your willingness to engage in polyamory.

The bottom line legally right now is that except in rare states that have specific laws regarding how non-conventional relationships should affect custody decisions, whether or not polyamory can hurt you in a custody case depends entirely on the judge and his or her personal take. If you have a judge who is prejudiced, or simply unaware of the reality of polyamory and the evidence that it is not harmful for children you can be in trouble. If you have a judge who is open minded and not against unconventional relationships, it may not effect the case at all.

(Originally posted January 2012)

Yay Life Insanity! (And Canadian Court Cases)

Most of this “not posting this week” posts I’ll end up deleting rather than editing and updating, because, well, a post saying “I won’t be posting today” 5+ years ago isn’t exactly relevant now, ya know? But this one also contains my immediate reaction to the big court case in Canada that challenged Canada’s anti-polygamy laws. At the time I wrote this I hadn’t yet dug into the details of the court’s decision. It was unfortunately the same tired, old reasoning that “we need laws against polygamy so we can stop child abusers” which has been trotted out time and again. As if we didn’t already have laws on the books against child abusers or something, ya know?

Also, fuck Thanksgiving. Seriously. I’m embarrassed how long it took me to realize how shitty that holiday is, and if you haven’t realized it yet, stop and think about what it means to Native Americans to celebrate the arrival of Europeans on this continent. Or to black folks to celebrate the origin of a colonial empire that kidnapped, raped, and murdered their ancestors by the millions. Lovely thing to have a party about. Not.

The webcomic I referenced here is sadly (thankfully) defunct. I love webcomics and was really frustrated with the lack of polyam-related webcomics. So I decided to create my own. But I can’t draw for shit… Reposted with commentary March 30, 2017.

PS. Comments about how “I celebrate thanksgiving as a time to be with family” yada yada will be deleted. You want to celebrate family togetherness, great, how about creating a new holiday that isn’t steeped in colonialism and genocide?

So life really got away from me this week, sorry all. I’ll be posting a late update to the webcomic sometime today or tomorrow. Hope to be fully back on track next week.

I will be skipping the normal Polyamory and Children post today because of the holiday, and I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving/Turkey Day. (Even if you don’t celebrate, you can still have a good day, right?)

On the subject of things to be thankful for, the Canadian Anti-Polygamy case ruling was released yesterday. I know there is a huge mixed reaction to the ruling (the short version for anyone who hasn’t heard is that having multiple marriages remains illegal, but the judge clarified that multiple relationships, including living together/common law relationships are not illegal as long as there is no ceremony to formalize the relationships). While it is not the outcome many polyam folk and polyam-supporters were hoping for, it is indeed a step in the right direction. So let’s be thankful for small steps, even as we keep working for more progress.

(originally posted November 2011)

A Personal Digression: Custody Case

I’ve fixed a few typos here and changed one instance of “polies” to “polyam folk.” Otherwise this is exactly as I posted it in the fall of 2011, including signed with a name I no longer use. My ex’s lawyer did in fact print this post out and ask me, while on the witness stand, to read my letter to the judge. Sadly, the judge was exactly as bigoted as I was afraid, and, well, the case ended badly. Though some long term good did come of it. Re-posted (but NOT revised) March 1, 2017.

I have nothing to say about pregnancy today. I’m having a bit of trouble focusing on much of anything at the moment.

You see, the fact that I write this blog is being used against me in a custody case. Posts from this blog have been printed out and brought into hearings to prove that I engage in polyamory and am therefore an unfit parent.

In a few weeks, I will be going into court for the custody trial. A court that will not care about all the research proving that polyamory is a healthy and ethical lifestyle, the published studies by Dr. Elizabeth Sheff, Dr. Geri Weitzman, and so many others. A court that will have no interest in the paper by law professor Ann Tweedy the Michigan University College of Law examining polyamory and its possible status as a sexual orientation and/or embedded personality trait (ie not a choice but a part of a person). A court that will be prejudging me – the root word of prejudice – based on nothing other then an assumption that anything other then monogamy is wrong, even though there is no evidence, no basis, no reason, other then knee-jerk ‘that’s not the way things are supposed to be’ emotional reaction behind the judging.

My saving grace is that for over a year I have only been in a relationship with my fiance, Michael. That I have previously written, on this blog, that that is the only relationship I am in.

Part of me is disgusted at my cowardice. That I am willing to hide behind that fact and not stand up in court and openly denounce their prejudice and hypocrisy. That I am not willing to fight for a lifestyle that is in no way unsafe or dangerous for my children.

But I can’t risk my children. And if the court demands that I live monogamously from now on I will do so.

Because I am judged guilty without benefit of trial.

I’ve seen the arguments in the community about whether polyam folk should push for legal rights, become politically active. So many say that ‘we shouldn’t rock the boat’, that ‘as long as keep our heads down we will be fine’, that ‘there is no point in exposing ourselves’.

Well, the courts will not educate themselves. The laws will not change themselves. And until other people stand up and say this is wrong, the attacks that are being made on me will keep happening to other people.

And what the hell, since I know people are printing out my blog to show the judge:

Your Honor,

If you should happen to read this, I will say here that to allow polyamory to be used against me in court, without knowledge of the nature of the lifestyle, or research which has been done on it is wrong. That there is no basis or reason to believe that polyamory is dangerous to my children, and that regardless of anything else, if I did choose to have other relationships when my children are with their father it would not affect them at all and should be nobody’s business but my own and my fiance’s.

Maybe this post will be used against me as well. Will you judge on my beliefs, your Honor? Does my willingness to say openly that there is nothing wrong with alternative lifestyles automatically make me an unfit parent, whether I engage in those lifestyles or not?

I will continue writing this blog, your Honor. I will continue to support everyone’s right to pursuit of happiness and freedom of expression – those grand words that are so often trampled in the cry of ‘shame! immoral! shame!’ with no basis other than the righteous indignation of those who think there is only one right way.

I just wish I was brave enough to stand up in court and say all this there.

Sincerely,
Jessica Burde

Family Names: Legal Stuff

Nothing much changed here. Laws in the UK and the US don’t seem to have changed much the last few years. If know anything about the laws in other countries, please share in the comments! Revised Jan 29, 2017.

Disclaimer part 1: I am not a lawyer, or more than a moderately competent researcher, please do not consider any info here as legal advice.

Disclaimer part 2: I am surprised and gratified by the international following this blog has picked up. There are readers from several different countries in Europe, England, Australia, Canada and possibly more. That said, I’m an (insert preferred pejorative) American.  I will occasionally (as with the UK below) stretch my research skills to dig up legal info for other countries. In general, legal stuff will be strictly US law.

So, that said, let’s get to the good stuff.

As discussed in the first post on family names,  some polyam family groups want to share a family name. For some families, having a name that they use day-to-day will be enough. Others will want to go the legal route and make their polyam family name official.

UK Name Change Laws

When it comes to name changes, folks across the pond have it sweet  – though not as sweet as it was ten years ago. In order to change your name in the UK, legally and officially, you fill out a ‘Deed  Poll’, sign it before an ‘independent witness’ (which from examples given means someone not related to you) and . . . that seems to be pretty much it. You can have the deed poll written up by a solicitor or by a company that specializes in them. Be careful– some companies’ deed poll documents aren’t universally accepted. Have to admit I’m not clear on that bit.

Anyway, once you have your deed poll, you provide a copy to your bank, the UK equivalent of the DMV, and any other official document organization you need to in order to get all your documents showing your new name. According to UK Deed Poll Service,  you should only need to pay for an updated passport. You’d need to pay UK Deed Poll Service 33 pounds for the first deed poll, and a reduced fee for others ordered at the same time.

There are places on the  internet that claim that a deed poll isn’t necessary and you can just start using a new name. From what I’ve been able to find, that was true up until 9/11, but new laws since then have made the deed poll mandatory.

American Name Changes

Ok, so welcome to confusion and insanity.

  • Federal law and legal precedent give two very contradictory pieces of information regarding changing your name:
  • Any person can change their name at any time, just by starting to use the new name. There’s some caveat’s and quibbles, but that’s the gist.

State’s have the right to determine who is allowed to change their name, and what the process will be.

Welcome to the joys of federation.

As near as I can parse this contradiction, you can simply start using a new name for anything that doesn’t require proof of ID. No one can stop you using whatever name you want. However, the standard proof of ID is issued by the states. So if you want to update your state issued ID (and thus open a bank account, get a job or do anything else that requires ID) under your new name, you need to jump through the state-ordained hoops.

While  these hoops do vary, the general tendency includes filing a petition for name change (and paying a filing fee), going before a judge to  explain why you want the name change (and paying court fees), going  through whatever additional steps are necessary (PA requires you to  publish the change in at least 2 newspapers), finally get the official  court documents saying your name is changed, then going ahead and updating all those legal documents (and paying the necessary fees for  those). If UKDPS is to be believed, our friends across the pond can get everything taken care of in around 3 weeks. Given the fact that court hearings are often scheduled months ahead of time, I think I can stand by my early statement – folks across the pond have it sweet. (And that doesn’t even count the monetary cost).

So how bad is it really?

I  feel like I’m being a bit of a downer here, probably at least partly because in my experience things involving the courts are a royal pain in the ass. That said, from everything I can find, name changes in the US,  while involved and expensive, are usually pretty straight forward. People who have been through it say it’s not much more hassle than getting your driver’s license or registering a child for school.

Name Change Law is a website that has both a list of the steps required in all 50  states (and D.C.) for changing your name and will (for a fee) supply an appropriate name change document that you can fill out for yourself.  For an additional fee, they’ll fill it out for you. All hail capitalism.

Or,  of course, you can start using a new name tomorrow, as long as you don’t mind you’re old name being on all your legal documents.

 

Pregnancy and Polyamory: Picking Baby Names

Did my best to removed gendered language and fixed some really poorly written sentences. Other than that, it’s much the same as it always was. Revised 1/16/17.

Picking baby names is one of the great joys of pregnancy. Also a real pain in the you-know-what. There are two extremes of name picking: those who have known the names they want for their children since they were children and those who don’t figure it out until after the baby is born. (I had a friend in high school who was named after a brand of soap. The hospital wouldn’t let them leave until her mother picked a name).

In between the two extremes are things like those who pore over baby-name books for hours, folks who want to name the baby after a relative, and the stereotypical ’run every possible name by your best friend to see what they think’. Oh – and don’t forget some families have naming traditions!

Like everything polyamory, if a decision is hard for two people, it is ridiculous for more people.

But why does it have to be more than two people? Why not just have the bio parents pick the name? First, you won’t always know who the second bio parent is. And some people may want to involve their polyam family in the decision, especially if everyone in the family is going to raising the children as parents. So, if you know for certain who the bio parents are, and it works for you, then certainly the bio parents can decide on the name themselves. If not . . . well, the ‘if not’ is why I wrote this blog post 😉

When my first child was born, I was in a triad. We did not know who the father was and we decided not to find out the assumed gender until the birth. One of my husbands didn’t want to discuss baby names. When he was born his parents had been arguing between two different names. They saw him and immediately knew which was the right one. So he was convinced that as soon as he saw the baby the perfect name would come to him. (He somehow didn’t notice the difference between picking one of two names and picking a name out of the blue). I wanted the three of us to go through baby books, rate names, make lists, and generally bored both of them to tears. My other husband seemed at least a little interested in the baby name books and my lists, but he wasn’t good at speaking up and voicing his opinion.

When my second child was born, we found out the assumed gender, boy, and the name was pretty much automatic. Both my family and one of my husband’s families have naming traditions for boys. And we were so focused on that, it didn’t even occur to us it left my other husband out of the discussion entirely. Much hard feelings from that.

Unfortunately, and as I’m afraid seems to be common for this blog, I don’t have any concrete suggestions on this one. It will be different for each family and each child. The usually polyam stuff of communication, honesty and respect will probably get you through somehow.

Last Names

Of course, as difficult as it can be picking the first name for your child, it kinda pales in comparison to how high feelings run when you are discussing last names.

It is traditional, in America, for a child to have their father’s last name. It is becoming more and more acceptable (if unwieldy) to hyphenate both parents’ names. Either of these options works well when the bio parents are known.

But what if you don’t know the second bio parent? Oy oy oy this one can be a real problem. For once, though, I actually have a few suggestions, none of which are perfect, but all of which can work:

  •     Use the mother’s name for the children: nice and simple, can work for all relationship configurations, and drs, teachers, etc won’t even blink at it.
  •     Hyphenate everyone’s name: not even gonna go into the problems with this one, but in a triad, especially if two members of the triad are legally married and have taken the same name, it is actually feasible
  •     Middle names: it is somewhat common to use the mother’s maiden name as a middle name for a child. There is no reason this can’t be adapted to polyam. And I have a cousin (child of a mono relationship) with three middle names and a last name, I’ve heard of people with more. So everyone can be included.
  •     Combine names: this one . . . is a stretch. But, if you don’t mind going for the odd and unusual, you can combine syllables from everyone’s last name to create a new name. Can’t say I like this one, and socially would cause a lot of problems, because it’s expected that a kid will have the same last name as at least 1 parent. But, it’s an option.

If you’ve had a child in a polyamorous family, how did you pick a name, and what was done for a last name?

Polyamory and Pregnancy: Legal Stuff

Removed gendered references to the other (ie not pregnant) bio parent. Corrected some info. A few other minor changes. Revised Jan 15, 2017.

Probably the biggest potential hassle in being polyamorous and pregnant is the birth certificate. (Yup, legal messes are always the worst kind.) In this case, it’s the issue of legal paternity.

First off, and to the best of my knowledge, as long as you aren’t legally married, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the birth certificate. Leave the “father” field blank until you have get a DNA test, put your primary down, put the partner your new baby looks like down… Seriously, if you aren’t married, whoever you say is the legal parent, is the legal parent.

If you are legally married, then it can get complicated. (Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, I do not know the law throughout the US, never mind the world. I have given birth in two different states, and know polyam people in a few other states, and so far this issue seems common.) Y’see, some states have this rule that if you are married, your legal spouse’s name goes on the birth certificate automatically. It’s possible you were artificially inseminated to be sure that a specific partner would be the other bio-parent–if you aren’t legally married to that partner you still need to jump through hoops to prove it. (My second to last child, my husband and I had been separated for three years, he lived half the country away and we were in the middle of a divorce–they still wanted to put his name down.)

So, if you are married, and either don’t know who the other bio-parent is or know it wasn’t your legal spouse, what are your options?

Option 1: Save up for DNA testing. Yes, there are DNA tests you can get for $30 dollars through the mail – for this, they don’t count. DNA testing that will be accepted as legal evidence can run up to several hundred dollars (we paid $400 6 12 years ago). Save the money, and inform the hospital ahead of time that you will be having the test done. You’ll have to jump through some legal hoops and forms after the birth to get the certificate straightened out, but it’s pretty straightforward.

Option 2: Amniocentesis – there is a way of testing DNA through an amnio. Obviously, all the possible side effects apply. It is more expensive then regular testing, though if you need to have an amnio for health reasons, you may be able to tack the DNA test on without much extra cost. Big advantage: when the clerk shows up in your room after labor to take care of the birth certificate, you have the papers proving paternity right there.

Option 3: Put your legal spouse’s name down and don’t worry about it. You can get the $30 test later just to know what the medical history is, and otherwise who cares, you are all parents together anyway. Upside – cheapest option with the least hassle. Downsides – emotional impact of the other biological parent of your child not being acknowledged as the legal parent and/or not being certain who the other bio parent is. Some people won’t care, some will – a lot. Possibly greater expense down the line if for any reason you need to change the birth certificate to have other bio parent’s name.

Biggest thing – don’t be blindsided. Happened to me twice, cuddling new baby, happily enjoying motherhood and not a care in the world – bam legal shit. You can speak with a lawyer, your local health department, or the birth registrar at the hospital about the rules your state, so you know in advance what you are getting into.

This post is part of the Polyamory and Pregnancy blog series.

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Educating Polyamory Friendly Professionals

Minor edits and updates. In the years since I first wrote this my family spent some time living in Tennessee. Still not problems from doctors and such about being polyamorous. Though it helped that we could pass as monogamous as the time. Polyamory is well known these days, so you are more likely to find random professionals who are familiar with it. Revised Dec 20, 2016

It comes up with near predictable regularity in polyam forums:

How do I find a polyamory friendly professional?

The polyamory friendly professionals list is always referenced, but there is an assumption we need to find professionals who are already polyam friendly. Which kind of bothers me. If we keep going to the same polyam friendly professionals, where will new polyam friendly professionals come from?

To be fair, CARAS does good work and is providing more education to professionals all the time, but they aren’t miracle workers. So rather than searching the friendly professionals list in vain for someone local, how about we start educating our own polyam friendly professionals?

Over the past seven years, I’ve discussed and explained my lifestyle to obs, midwives, lawyers, shrinks, social workers and god-help-me Children and Youth Services representatives. I have never once dealt someone from the polyam friendly professionals list, and only once did I ever have a problem.

Now, living within an hour’s drive of NYC my whole life means that I’ve probably had a lot better luck than I would have if I was living in the Bible-belt. But I’ve chatted with polyam-folk in forums who lived in the Bible belt and who never had problems.

Educating a professional about polyamory is surprisingly easy. I’ve found the upfront and open approach is best. Request a consultation, and say something like ‘So-and-so recommended that I come to you, that you are the best in the area. I am in a polyamorous relationship, where I am in relationships with ___ other people. I need to know if you can be accepting and supportive of this.’

In general, I’ve found 4 common responses to this introduction:

“I’ve never heard of it before, but I’m willing to learn.” – great, answer questions, refer them to the PolyResearchers group on Yahoo!, or whatever else you can do to help them understand.

“I’m afraid I can’t be supportive of a lifestyle that is clearly (fill in reason they disapprove)” – thank them for their time and leave.

Initially say they accept, then get passive-aggressive about it – only ran into this once. I’m not sure if she honestly didn’t realize how much her bias’ were affecting her behavior, or was just an a—hole. Either way, these are the most annoying IMO b/c of the way they waste your time.

“Oh – like that show Sister Wives/Big Love. Sure, I have no problem with that.” – I just started running into this in the past year or two. In general, you can work really well with a professional who has this reaction. They are likely to be open-minded and accepting. However, you may need to deal with some misinformation on their part. Also, sometimes they want to hear how your relationship is different from the one they see on TV. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t matter either.

Resources for educating your local own polyamory friendly professionals:

Resources for educating your local own polyamory friendly professionals:

CARAS – CARAS is dedicated to the support and promotion of excellence in the study of alternative sexualities, and the dissemination of research results to the alternative sexuality communities, the public, and the research community.

What Therapists Should Know About Polyamory – article introducing what polyamory is, how it is practiced and some of the psych studies on polyamory over the past several decades. Written for therapists, but can be useful for family doctors/primary care physicians

Yahoo! PolyResearcher’s Group – this is a great place that your professional can go and ask questions. The group includes over three hundred members in varying fields of study. A great resource for anyone wanting to learn about current research in polyamory.

NCFS – the national coalition for sexual freedom should be a great resource and is the group that sponsored the article What Therapists Should Know About Polyamory, but in general while they support polyamory in theory, they are more focused on support for the BDSM community. Hard to blame them when kinksters are in danger of going to jail for their sexuality. The one area where I have found NCFS to be helpful in polyam situations is legal stuff. They may provide a lawyer with references, precedents, and research relevant to a legal case where your lifestyle is an issue. I understand that some of NCFS’ board members are moving to have more of a focus on polyamory and non-monogamy in the future.

Polygamy and Marriage

Minor edits here, no major changes. Today, the ideas Susan laid out are fairly well known in the polyam community, but as far as I know she was one of the first to address the question. Revised Dec 9, 2016.-

This is not my usual post, but my twitter feed led me the blog “The View from LL2,” writing about “Law, Economics, and All Things Slightly Geeky.” Back in 2010 “The View from LL2” posted “How to Legalize Polygamy.” I’d like to credit whoever tweeted it this wonderful post, but I’m afraid I was a ditz and lost the name. If you’ve tweeted or retweeted about this blog in the past day or so, please speak up in the comments!

As this is an eminently practical topic, and related to the concerns of many polyam peeps, I thought I would share it here.

The author, Susan, lays out two basic ways that polygamous marriage could be set up, how it might work, and what changes the legal code would need for these types of marriage to be possible. She dodges the question of necessary changes to legal codes regarding taxes, social security, inheritance and a host of other relevant legal areas, saying (realistically) that it is too much to cover in a single blog post.

Interestingly, she starts by saying that she doesn’t think legal polygamy will ever happen, and finishes by explaining how it might. I suppose time will tell.

Here are a couple excerpts about the types of polygamous marriage that could be set up:

(1) Group marriage contracts: I’ll start with the easiest form of polygamous marriage contract: the group-style marriage of three or more parties, in which all parties are equal members of the union. I call this arrangement the “easiest” because we already have a well-developed body of law to draw from in administering this form of marriage: business association law. In a group-style marriage, the marriage would be, in effect, an incorporated entity. As with corporate law, group marriages would possess articles of incorporation specifying the terms of the arrangement and, most importantly, would have provisions regarding if and how new members are to be admitted into the marriage, and how property is to be distributed in the event of dissolution by a member.

(2) Multi-marriage contracts: Multi-marriage contracts would be almost identical to the marriage contract currently available in the US. The primary difference — albeit a rather important one — is that they would lack the exclusivity clause that is implied into every marriage contract today. In other words, in multi-marriage contracts, a marriage only contains two parties, but parties are be permitted to enter into one or more of such contracts.

Susan has put a fair amount of thought into her ideas. Further details include what some necessary clauses might be, and how the two forms of marriage might interact.

Originally posted July 11, 2011.

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Polyamory and Power of Attorney

This US-centric post contains information that may or may not apply in other countries. I am not a lawyer, this post is for information purposes only. Not much changed here, but I fixed a few broken links and checked that Rocket Lawyer is still up and running. They are, and it looks like you can do most Power of Attorney paperwork there for free now. Updated October 6, 2016

A common piece of practical advice for polyam folk is “set up medical power of attorney.” But most people I’ve spoken with never do. Why? Well, people often expect legal stuff to be complicated, expensive and time-consuming. And hey, I’m healthy, right? I’ll take care of it when I have the money, can afford a lawyer, have the time to research… and it gets pushed behind all the daily concerns of bills, family and relationship stuff.

If you haven’t set up a medical power of attorney yet, you should as soon as possible, for a lot of important reasons. But, that there are other things you can do with a power of attorney. Power of attorney can give anyone the financial, medical, and property powers and rights that a legally married spouse has. And you can revoke a power of attorney at any time. Just give your agent(s) (the person(s) you gave power of attorney) a statement saying that you are revoking your power of attorney. So you don’t need to worry about being trapped in an agreement.

In my research for this post, I stumbled across a great site for US polyam folk called Rocket Lawyer. They have an easy set up to create a personalized power of attorney with all the proper legalese. Their ‘interview’ questions cover everything you need to set up power of attorney. Then the site auto-generates the proper legal paperwork. It also includes the ability to give the power of attorney to multiple people. Rocket Lawyer charges for some services and offers others for free. The services it charges for are a lot cheaper than hiring your own attorney.

If you know of similar resources for polyam folk in other countries, please leave a link in the comments!

For a polyamorous relationship, it’s a good idea to set up two separate power of attorney forms:

  • Specific financial/legal rights–you can pay each other’s bills, talk to the IRS on behalf of your spice, or whatever day-to-day rights would suit your relationships. This can be set up to go into effect as soon as it is signed and/or filed.
  • Durable medical power of attorney–set to go into effect if you are unable to make decisions for your own medical care. This allows your spice to take over your medical decisions when (and only when) you are incapacitated.

Not all polyam folks will need both kinds of power of attorney. If you only want to have a highly entwined relationship with one person, and you are legally married o that person, no power of attorney needed.

If you are legally married to someone and want that person making decisions for you if you are medically incapacitated, no medical power of attorney needed. If either or both of these are not the case, having power of attorney set up will protect you and your polyam partners.

A power of attorney to give rights to polyam partners will be more likely to face challenges than normal. Sadly, being in a non-mainstream relationship style will do that. However, as long as you are of sound mind when you sign the form, any challenge should get tossed out.

You can protect your power of attorney by making an appointment with your doctor before signing the power of attorney. Ask them for a statement that you are of sound mind. Keep this statement with the original copy of the signed power of attorney.

Every state has slightly different laws regarding power of attorney. Rocketlawyer.com is set up to incorporate the requirements of each individual state. The site will give you specific instructions on what to do after you print out the form to make it legally binding. If you don’t have a medical power of attorney and need one, I really suggest you pop over and set one up. That way, if something does happen, your polyam partners will be involved in your care and treatment.

If you choose not to use RocketLawyer, there are other internet sites where you can get a generic medical power of attorney. Or you can talk with a lawyer, or (in some states) write the document yourself.

Seriously, this is about protecting you and your polyam partners. It is not nearly as complicated or expensive as many people assume.

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(Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with Rocket Lawyer and receive no compensation for recommending them.)

It’s Time to Stop Police Violence: Campaign Zero

Okay,

I don’t usually talk about political stuff or current events on this website. That’s not what this website is for. But police violence is a huge deal that affects a lot of people who are members of the poly community. And even if black men and trans folks and mentally ill people weren’t part of poly (which they are), the shit going down would still be wrong.

Now, if you know me you know I’m not much for theoretical discussion or random whatever (unless it’s Jewish law. I can talk for hours about Jewish law because OMFG have you seen what those old men came up with?!). So, I’m not going to spend an hour writing about the horror of racism in this country or why police violence is wrong. Other people have already done a better job of that than I can. Instead, I’m gonna point you to a possible solution.

Campaign Zero is a group with an actionable plan for how we can reduce or stop police murders. And their plan will reduce many other forms of police violence as well. They propose ten actionable items. Some are city level, some are state level, and some are federal level. They are backing their ideas up with research and are always looking for more input.

If you are an American who is sick of this shit, please check them out.

For steps you can take closer to home, check out Ijeoma Oluo’s awesome facebook post: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10153536974817676&id=616977675&pnref=story

Additional resources/ideas are welcome in the comments.

NEXT WEEK we will finally return to our regularly scheduled blogging.