Poly relationships have no legal recognition or protection.
Yeah, yeah, I know, tell you guys something you don’t know.
This doesn’t mean you should be an idiot if you decide to move in with your loves. Several years ago, one of my partners and I transcribed (with permission) a sample property sharing contract written for my family by a lawyer friend of the family.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to do and I really encourage any newly-forming, or even old-time poly groups who haven’t to do this. Plan ahead. And don’t think you’re planning to fail by having contingency contracts. That’s not the point. It’s like an insurance policy. You hope you’re never going to need it, but you’d hate to need it and not have it.
If you have done this, though, don’t pat yourself on the back too quick.
Are you updating it?
I know, it’s unromantic, but remember that living room suite the five of you bought? Whose is it? The family’s? That’s great. Now what if the family decides to go its separate ways? You don’t wanna go to court over something dumb like the living room furniture. Just what the world needs, another courtroom drama over something you put your butt on.
Remember when you write these contracts, keep the sex out of it. This is a property sharing contract. Nobody in a court is gonna care that your Master and Mistress collared you and you were living in subservient, trusting bliss as their devoted slave. All they wanna know is who is the damn’ silver gonna go to if you guys break it off and everyone is pissed off enough to land in court. Hence the admonition to update regularly. If you’re reading this, you probably have the resources to buy stuff at least once or twice a year. A yearly review is probably enough to keep things in check with an agreement to update for major group purchases. I’d suggest setting a dollar amount guideline on this one, just for clarity’s sake. Each family will have a different income level and a different idea of “major”, so hammer that one out, too!
If your family owns a business together (OLQ did), have an idea of what will happen to the property the business owns if the family/business dissolves. We decided that since one of the members wanted to continue in the same line, that many of the materials could go with the person who wanted to continue using it. If we hadn’t agreed on that, we would have had to have sold all the equipment and divided the money. In our case, that would have been far more trouble than it was worth! (Computers, software and electronic equipment depreciates fast!) But if you have significant stock/equipment/holdings in your family business, it’s an important point to consider.
I’m not pushing the contract to be pessimistic. Poly marriages last about as long as monogamous ones. It’s just that the monogamous ones have a legal precedent and ways to cope with the physical aspects of a possible divorce. We don’t have that.
<grin> What I hope in my secret heart is that every year when a poly family goes to update the contract it’s done with a chuckle, a “remember when” and laughter at the fact it’s not needed.