Does Polyamory Lead to Divorce?

Does Polyamory Lead to Divorce?

Monogamy is the traditional form of marriage in the United States. In fact, many states have laws that make cheating on your spouse illegal

For example, Georgia law makes it illegal for a married person to have sexual intercourse with someone other than their spouse. The person can be charged with adultery, which is a misdemeanor. However, prosecuting someone for adultery is unheard of today in Georgia.

People file for divorce for many reasons. What leads to ending a marriage is as unique as the couples themselves. However, adultery (i.e., cheating) is a common reason for divorces in Lawrenceville, GA. Therefore, polyamory could lead to a criminal charge under the letter of the law and a divorce. At Crystal Wright Law we can help you, contact us today or call (404) 594-2143.

What Is Polyamory?

What Is Polyamory?

Polyamory is not bigamy. Bigamy is also illegal in Georgia under O.C.G.A. §16-6-20. A person commits bigamy if they marry another person or carry on a bigamous cohabitation with someone while their lawful spouse is living.

Spouses generally hide adultery. Bigamy may or may not be consensual (i.e., living two separate lives vs. sister wives). However, polyamory is not hidden. Spouses agree to have an open marriage or consensual non-monogamy (CNM). They agree that they may have romantic and/or sexual relationships with other people.

Polyamory arrangements take many forms. Couples may agree to have sex with other partners but only be romantic with their spouse. On the other hand, they may choose to have romantic, long-term, loving relationships outside of their marriage. It depends on the agreement between the spouses.

Open marriages challenge social norms. However, couples with open marriages are also breaking the law in Georgia. Even though the spouses consent to have sexual relationships with other people, adultery is illegal in Georgia. Depending upon the living arrangement, a spouse could also face accusations of bigamy.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Georgia?

Georgia has several grounds for divorce. A spouse may file for a no-fault divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. In that case, they allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken because the couple has differences they cannot resolve. A person can obtain a no-fault divorce even if the other spouse does not want to be divorced.

The state also has several fault grounds for divorce, which allege that a spouse committed wrongdoing that led to the breakup of the marriage. 

Fault grounds for divorce in Georgia include:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty or abuse
  • Pregnant by another man
  • Incest
  • Substance abuse
  • Abandonment or desertion
  • Conviction of a crime with a punishment of more than two years in prison
  • Serious psychological conditions or insanity
  • Tricked or forced into marriage
  • Impotence when the couple married

The person filing for divorce on fault grounds has the burden of proving that their spouse committed the wrongdoing. Therefore, if you accuse your spouse of adultery, you must have evidence proving they engaged in intercourse with another person. The court requires that you prove there was the opportunity and inclination to commit adultery.

Is Polyamory a Ground for Divorce in Georgia?

Polyamory is not a ground for divorce in Georgia. However, maintaining a relationship outside of your marriage could result in allegations of adultery.

Even if your spouse initially agreed to an open marriage, they might change their mind, or they could have agreed to get you to commit adultery. While an agreement to live a polyamorous life might give you some protection from a divorce on the grounds of adultery, it is not a complete defense.

Does It Matter Whether I Get a No-Fault Divorce or a Divorce on the Grounds of Adultery in Georgia?

Getting divorced on the grounds of adultery can impact several areas of your divorce case. Therefore, polyamory may not have been the only reason you want to leave your spouse, but it could result in adultery allegations that impact the outcome of your divorce.

Adultery can impact the outcome of your divorce in the following ways:


Georgia divorce laws bar spousal support if a spouse is guilty of adultery. Therefore, suppose you and your spouse agree to a polyamorous marriage. Then, your spouse changes their mind and files for divorce on the grounds of adultery. If the judge grants the divorce on the grounds of adultery, you would be barred from receiving alimony.

Property Division

Georgia is an equitable distribution state for dividing property during a divorce. Unlike a community property state, equitable distribution does not mean equal. When the spouses disagree about property division, a judge determines what is “fair” given the facts of the case.

Judges consider all factors when deciding what is fair, including the breakup of the marriage. Therefore, adultery could be a factor the judge considers, especially if your spouse can show that you used marital funds or resources to pay for dates, trips, gifts, or other items related to the affair.

Child Custody and Visitation

Georgia family courts encourage parties to develop a parenting plan and visitation schedule that allows both parents to remain active in their children’s lives. However, the court retains jurisdiction over the matter to determine if the proposed plan is in the best interests of the children. When parents dispute child custody, the judge decides based on the children’s best interests.

Therefore, polyamory could be a factor considered in child custody cases. If your spouse denounced polyamory and you continued to have relationships outside of your marriage, the judge may consider whether this demonstrates sound judgment. They might consider how exposing the children to one or more partners could impact their best interests.

Does Gender Matter When Dealing With a Polyamorous Relationship?

Georgia does not distinguish between heterosexual and same-sex affairs for allegations of adultery. If you have intercourse with any party, regardless of their gender or gender identity, while you are married, it is legally considered adultery in Georgia.

Do You Have Questions About Divorce and Open Marriages in Georgia?

Being involved in an open marriage can impact several elements of a divorce case. Call the attorneys at Crystal Wright Law, LLC to speak with a Lawrenceville divorce lawyer. The best way to protect your rights is to have an experienced attorney guiding you as you divorce a polyamorous spouse. Contact us at (404) 594-2143.