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Nontraditional Relationships and Marriages

Posted on in Family Law

DuPage County family law attorneysMarriages have certainly changed in the last hundred years. The days of an I Love Lucy cookie-cutter relationship are all but gone, and marriages can now look dramatically different from one another. Some people marry young and stay married for 50 years. Others get married and divorced several times over the course of their lives. Still others wait to marry until they are in their 40s or older while other couples choose not to marry at all. Same-sex couples are marrying and adopting children, and blended families composed of step-children, half-siblings and multiple sets of parents and grandparents are becoming much more commonplace.

Open Marriages

There are other alternative lifestyles that exist, as well. For example, some couples choose to have an open relationship. Open relationships can take many different forms, but the underlying idea is that both halves of the couple are able to pursue romantic or sexual relationships with others. Individuals in open relationships or open marriages do not consider such extramarital activity cheating because all parties are aware of and consent to the arrangement.


Another alternative to monogamy is polyamory. Polyamory literally means “many loves.” Those who subscribe to a polyamorous lifestyle often have more than one serious, committed relationship. Those in the relationship may live all together as a group or may live in separate homes. For example, a man may have a wife and a girlfriend or a woman can have a husband and another partner. Some polyamorous people integrate their children and families and some do not.


Polygamy refers to a situation in which a man has multiple wives who are all committed to him. It is one of the oldest forms of non-monogamy and is prevalent throughout recorded history. (The reverse is less common and is known as a polyandry.) Polygamy recently gained media exposure through the television program Sister Wives on TLC. However, polygamy exists in a rather gray area in the United States. It is against the law in Illinois—and every other state—for a person to be legally married to more than one other person. However, some families—like those featured on Sister Wives continue to live as if they are married, although they are legally not married.

Protecting Your Rights in a Nontraditional Relationship

Every person has the right to choose what type of relationship or relationships are right for them. However, it is extremely important to remember that there are rights and benefits afforded to those in a legal marriage that are not guaranteed to those in other relationship scenarios. Experts strongly encourage those individuals in nontraditional relationships to research their legal options. Cohabitation agreements, prenuptial agreements, and domestic partnership agreements can be used to spell out your rights in a relationship.

To learn more about these types of agreements or to discuss any other matter of family law, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-352-2240 for a free consultation at Pesce Law Group today.


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