Unfortunately there is still prejudice against people whose lifestyle includes polyamory. I learned this only too well when my partner tried to move into my home with his two children, when he told his ex-wife, a huge custody battle ensued.
The basic case against us went like this; here is a direct quote from the deposition to the court which stated “the lifestyle choices” of the adults “have taken precedence over the emotional needs of the children.” The case against us seemed to be built on a bigoted assumption that we were poly, and actively pursuing sexual gratification—therefore we had no credibility as parents. Many of the documents sent to the court were simply “evidence’ that we were poly. The nanny saying she found a poly leaflet in my partner’s apartment, and evidence on our Facebook page that we had joined a poly group.
There is a basic prejudicial argument against polyamory and parenting. Poly people are ‘out of control’ and breaking not just one rule (monogamy) but all the rules. Somehow this leads to our children’s safety being at risk. Being a polyamorous parent could be compared to being a gay parent twenty years ago. Our lawyers told us there had not been a precedent setting case concerning custody issues and being polyamorous, so we were very vulnerable.
These are my thoughts having gone through this:
1) Be proactive. Don’t think it will be obvious that you are a good person and good parent. Get testimonials; find out who will support you, teachers, pediatricians, friends, family
2) Make a strategy to defend yourself and your character, because you will likely have to work against a bigoted stereo type that poly means you are an out of control pervert—this is sad but true.
3) Don’t underestimate someone who’s hurt and angry at you. This is hard reality but someone you thought was trustworthy can use polyamory as a way to discredit you.
If you are in a vulnerable situation such as a divorce, work dispute, or housing dispute document everything and get positive character witnesses. Do everything you can to protect yourself, create a strategy to win your case and a plan to take care of yourself during this high stress time. I don’t want this to be a ‘grim reaper blog’ most of you likely will never experience this level of prejudice. In the US we are trending towards civil rights for all sexual outliers, gays, and transgendered people and polyamorous folks too.When I went through this hellish year long court battle—which we did win, I took heart in looking at history. In 1967 Loving v Virginia established a landmark Supreme Court decision that invalidated laws prohibiting interracial marriage. It is hard to imagine in my liberal, sexually tolerant progressive community that interracial marriage was once illegal. This gives me heart to fight the good fight around today’s sexual freedoms.