- by Shana Pennywell
- in More
The New York Times published a piece that shared the experiences of couples practicing open marriages. It sparked serious discussions about non-monogamous unions. The article challenged the traditional paradigm of marriage and explored the concept of people in open marriages being happier overall. More recently, a family from Georgia made international headlines after sharing the details of their own polyamorous relationship. While these stories help publications gain views, they also create dialogue about the practicality and legality of open marriage in Georgia.
What is an Open Marriage?
The term “open marriage” refers to the concept of married people seeking romantic partners outside of their legal relationship. Usually sexual in nature, these relationships can provide types of intimacy that the current relationship lacks or adds a new dimension to the current relationship. In theory, both partners in the relationship understand and agree to the relationship status, meaning that neither partner is engaging in any type of sexual or romantic activity without the knowledge of their legal spouse. Depending on the dynamics of the marriage, one spouse may seek an additional partner or both spouses might seek companionship outside their existing relationship.
Is Open Marriage Legal in Georgia?
Though the concept of open marriage primarily challenges societal norms, it is important to remember that it also counters established law. Even though all adults may consent to an open relationship, that does not automatically mean the arrangement itself is legal. Getting involved in an open marriage can place you and your spouse at risk of certain repercussions, specifically, depending on the details surrounding your actual living arrangements, accusations of bigamy. Remember, just because you and your spouse are happy with your relationship does not mean you are fully protected from social or legal problems.
One of the most serious consequences associated with maintaining any long-term relationship outside legal marriage are accusations of adultery. Your spouse must prove that adultery occurred, and although open marriages (meaning your spouse knew and previously approved of the relationship) typically provide some protection from divorce on the grounds of adultery, the risk is still present. Being divorced on those grounds could lead to alimony being awarded to the injured spouse and other unfavorable settlement terms.
Talk to an Attorney
If you and your spouse have separated after having an open marriage or are considering having an open marriage, consult with a qualified Georgia family law attorney. An attorney can give you the legal advice you need to protect your long-term best interests. Even if you do not believe your relationship will end in divorce or your non-monogamous status will play a role in a divorce, it is best to plan for every possible scenario. The legal team at Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor understand that not all marriages are the same and we work to provide you with the modern representation you need. Contact us today to arrange an initial meeting so that we can begin discussing your unique situation.