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What is a polyamorous marriage?

‘What is polyamorous’ – and is it legal – is a question we are sometimes asked as divorce solicitors. Polyamory, the practice of having multiple partners with the consent of all of the people involved, is a way of life which receives a great deal of criticism.

In this article, we’ll answer the question ‘what is polyamorous’ and discuss whether there are any legal implications to living your life this way.


What does it mean to be polyamorous?

Polyamorous relationships are defined as relationships where people have multiple sexual partners, with the consent of all partners.

They differ to monogamous relationships where a couple agree just to have a sexual relationship with each other.

‘Poly’ is a prefix that denotes ‘much’ or ‘many’, while ‘mono’ is a prefix which denotes just one of something.

So what is polyamorous? A relationship can be defined as polyamorous when someone has a number of different sexual partners, who all know about each other and consent to the sexual activity taking place. It is also sometimes called an open relationship (although this is slightly different as knowledge of the sexual partners is not a prerequisite in this instance).

Whereas monogamy is a relationship with just one person, polyamory (‘amor’ is the Latin word for love) involves sexual relationships with more than one person.


What is it like to be in a polyamorous relationship?

The Polyamory Society describes polyamory as, “the non-possessive, honest, responsible, and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultaneously”.

For some who practice polyamory, there will be one relationship which takes priority over the others. For others, polyamory means that all relationships take on equal importance.

When looking at what is polyamorous, it is important to note that consent plays a key part. Unlike in some other types of non-monogamous relationships, polyamory is about openly communicating with all partners involved.


What is polyamorous marriage?

So what is polyamorous marriage? Polyamorous marriage is not allowed to be performed in the UK. You are only legally able to be married to one person at a time.

If polyamorous marriage takes place in the UK, the person who is already married may be guilty of bigamy, which is a crime. If someone is found guilty of bigamy, they could be given a prison sentence.


Can polyamory be grounds for divorce?

Adultery is one of five grounds for divorce. For the purposes of divorce, someone is said to have committed adultery if they are married and have had sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex who is not their spouse.

Therefore, if you or your spouse had sex with someone of the opposite sex outside of your marriage, this could be classed as adultery and therefore grounds for divorce.

Of course, people in a polyamorous relationship will likely choose not to marry, as marriage is built on two people promising to be exclusively with each other (a monogamous relationship). Legally, however, if two people get married and decide to practice a polyamorous relationship which involves sexual intercourse with members of the opposite sex, this could be used by the other party as grounds for divorce.


Other articles that may be of interest to you?

How long does a divorce take?

What is the divorce process?

When is decree absolute granted in a divorce?

Decree Nisi – What does this mean in a divorce?

What are the first steps to divorce?

Is a cheap divorce really possible?


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with divorce

Our expert family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues relating to divorce, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on divorce

For more information call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email

Our expert family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

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Please contact us for more details.

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06th March 2020

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