Friday Lore Post: Polyamory’s Legal Status

The Catechism’s scriptures and teachings define marriage as being a state in which two people exist in the light of God. As a result of this, marriage in Dolovai and Kyaine can only exist between two people. That does not mean relationships cannot exist between multiple people. Both Dolovin and Kyainese law recognize that a person may have more than one partner and that their children may legally have more than two parents, but though colloquially the terms ‘husband,’ ‘wife’ and ‘spouse’ are used to refer to this person, only two people in the relationship can be considered legally married. Typically, polyamorous people will either keep who in their relationship is legally married a secret, or simply choose to have no members of their relationship get married.

There is one small technical difference between Dolovin and Kyainese law, which is that Dolovin law recognizes relationships between “as many people as choose to love each other” whereas Kyainese law recognizes relationships between “one person and as many others as they choose.” The difference is largely semantic but technically Kyainese polyamory is recognized as one person having multiple partners (the implication being that these partners may not be each others’ partners), whereas Dolovin polyamory is defined as multiple people all in a relationship together (the implication being that all members of the relationship are together). There is no real lived difference for polyamorous people in the two nations, as nobody goes around interrogating people as to whether they’re romantically involved or not, but it does impact assumptions people make about polyamorous relationships in the two nations. It is believed that Kyaine’s companion system for nobility is the reason for the specific wording in their laws, as all nobility are expected to have their companion as a potential romantic or sexual partner outside of their marriage. Notably, though both Dolovin and Kyainese law allows for legitimate relationships outside of marriage, this is expected to be done with the consent of all parties, and adultery is grounds for divorce in both nations.

Traditional Ech’kent law states that a marriage can be between a person and a man and (not or) woman of their choosing, which some have interpreted to mean that a person is entitled to marry two spouses as long as they aren’t the same gender. This was never a common practice and became even less common after the colonization of the plateau. Polyamorous relationships typically follow a similar formula here as in the rest of Menechit, with multiple partners simply choosing to be together and not worrying overly about marriage.

In Yavhore, marriage is traditionally understood to be a legal recognition that soulmates have found each other. Though most philosophical discussion of soulmates discusses the concept in binary terms as two souls who find each other, technically speaking there is no reason why a person cannot have multiple soulmates, and indeed many have argued that some souls are not mated until they are will all of their fated partners. For this reason, Yavhorel marriage can include as many people as desired, though a quirk of law that many find frustrating is that if divorce occurs, all partners involved must divorce even if only one partner is leaving the relationship. Due to similar restrictions, if a relationship opens up to an additional partner, the current partners must all get divorced and then re-married to each other and the new partner. The majority of polyamorous people ignore these laws, as they are considered cumbersome and unnecessary.

In Enjon, polyamorous marriages are legal only in one particular case. A man may marry his spouse’s brothers and a woman her spouse’s sisters, and interestingly, a person who is not male or female may choose to marry any of their spouse’s siblings, presuming everyone consents to this. The origins of this allowance are unclear, but these are the only circumstances in which a marriage is permitted between more than two people. People who desire polyamorous relationships not with their partner’s siblings simply don’t get married to them. Enjoni law permits a child to have only two parents, but realistically nobody keeps track of this information and in rare cases where births are intentionally recorded, two members of the relationship will just pretend they are the “legal” parents of the child in question. If the relationship has multiple children, often they will list different combinations of people as their children’s legal parents. In Yassar specifically, anyone who chooses to be in a long-term relationship is considered married if they live together, no matter how many people share the house.

Bevian law allows a person to be married to as many people as they choose—as long as all those people live on different islands. Most people, even in monogamous relationships, on Bevia, don’t choose to get married anyway, as divorce is both illegal and considered a moral failing on the archipelago. Acknowledging that relationships may fail regardless of how strong they are at the start, most people are encouraged not to get married, and as a result very few do. Marriage is most common among older couples on Bevia, after having been together for sufficient decades that they know they’re not likely to want to divorce, but even then, less than a third of relationships, monogamous or polyamorous, include legal marriage.

Aergyre permits up to five people to all marry each other, and also permits individuals to have as many spouses (who aren’t married to each other) as they choose. Sex outside of marriage is not considered a divorceable offence in the Empire, but having children outside of a marriage is. Because slaves are not considered people, having a relationship or children with a slave is not legally a violation of a marriage. Polyamorous people in the Empire are heavily encouraged to marry, as marriage is seen as being for the good of the Empire. In southern Aergyre, including the portions of the continent not yet part of the Empire, polyamorous marriages are not possible because a marriage is seen as a contract between two people that leads up to and is finalized with the birth of their first child, and therefore definitionally nobody who is not procreative and monogamous can be married. Polyamorous relationships are, however, permitted in this region, simply not marriage. In Roak, polyamorous marriages are the norm, though this is mostly an on-paper institution in which various members of the dragon, harpy, orc, goblin and human populations of Roak will marry each other in different combinations in order to cement alliances. In many cases, spouses have not all actually met each other.

Most merpeople marry and have relationships either monogamously or polyamorously per their choice, though it is not uncommon for a relationship to have multiple people in it for the purposes of procreation, as not all anatomy is compatible. Primes, the leaders of the different Imperia, are expected to have a different spouse or spouses every tidal cycle. These marriages can be singular or multiple and can exist simultaneously, though the other spouses are expected to defer to the current tidal cycle’s spouse, with noted exception being that the Prime’s first spouse or spouses always have spousal privileges. Ordinary people are also entitled to tidal marriages if they so choose, but most don’t bother as it considered a lot of hassle to arrange and it is not the responsibility of ordinary people to ensure the genetic diversity of the population.

Marriages in Djyekkan are a financial contract that exist to facilitate the sharing of property and costs. They are not legally expected to be monogamous and most are not, though of course people typically marry people to whom they are attracted or in love. Because they are primarily financial, marriages are considered to benefit from multiple partners, and relationships can have a new person join or leave at any time. If there isn’t a specific financial incentive to write a marriage contract, however, most people won’t bother and will just be together without one. Children are all the legal offspring of their parents in Kajda law, regardless of how may parents are in the relationship and what extramarital relationships the various partners might have. Though sex and pregnancy with someone else’s spouse might be cause for personal conflict, it is not considered grounds for a legal challenge, as that child is always the child of the person who bore them and their spouse(s).

Across Nova, people are generally understood to have the choice not only of who they love, but how they love them and how they express that love—or whatever other feeling has led to the inauguration of a relationship. Marriage is one expression of a relationship but not the only one, and people who find it inconvenient generally ignore it. Monogamy is also one expression of a relationship but not the only one. A few die-hard Catechism scripturalists have tried to bemoan that monogamous marriages as defined in scripture are on the decline, but there is no demonstrable evidence of this and even if they are, most people believe some version of the Catechism’s founding story: that God created humans to seek happiness, in whatever form they find it in.

From “The Definitive Atlas of the World, Vol. 4: Desires and Behaviours,” by Pascal Tiberius Naoton Quimbell Haeverine anNatalie, published in White Cape in DN 1997.

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