Polygamy and Canadian Family Law
The polygamy trial in British Columbia has been garnering a lot of media attention.
Polygamy is illegal in Canada, but the law is rarely enforced in the province.
One side is arguing that polygamy puts women and children in danger because some religious organizations may force it, while the other side is arguing that polygamy between consenting adults should be recognized as religious freedom under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Will the polygamy ruling be an inclusive Canadian family law ruling?
If polygamy is decriminalized, it will bring up a lot of questions on how Canadian family law will deal with polygamous relationships upon separation. If there is a ruling that eventually decriminalizes polygamy, will it account for the breakup of a polygamous relationship?
How will assets be divided, particularly if one member of a polygamous relationship leaves while two remain? Would the member that left be able to get spousal or child support (which can be granted in some provinces under Canadian family laws for common law couples) if the remaining two are legally married to each other? If a polygamous triad with children were to breakup, Canadian family law should also be able to grant custody fairly among its members if all of them helped raise a child. Seeing as British Columbia is working on legislation that would allow a child to have more than two legal parents, that legislation may be applicable when ensuring fair and equal child custody for polygamous couples.
Hopefully, no matter what the ruling, consideration is given to developing legislation that would protect all parties involved in a breakup or divorce under Canadian family law.