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Nov. 15th, 2008 @ 05:05 am Polyfamilies now legal in Oz?
In the context of wide ranging reforms of the Australian Federal Family Law Act, a window seems to have opened for legal recognition of some forms of non-monogamy.

Please excuse the headline and general tone of the article: the Herald Sun is a shameless tabloid rag. But as I was perusing it for lulz over a beer today, the sentence I've bolded below leapt out at me.

Sting for love cheats with Family Law Act reforms
Matthew Fynes-Clinton and Norrie Ross
November 12, 2008 12:00am

CHEATING husbands could soon be forced to keep funding their mistresses after their affairs end.

This is one of several scenarios arising from new laws next year on broken de facto relationships.

Under reforms to the Family Law Act, de facto partners together for two years will have the same rights as married couples to seek spousal maintenance claims in federal family law courts.

Maintenance, as distinct from child support, may be ordered to be paid by an ex-partner when the other partner is unable to support herself or himself adequately after separation.

But legal experts warn the amended Act - passed in the Senate on Monday - opens the definition of a de facto couple to wide interpretation.

The legislation describes a de facto relationship as an opposite-sex or same-sex couple living together on a "genuine domestic basis".

Yet it also stipulates a de facto alliance can exist even if one of the partners is legally married to somebody else or in another de facto relationship.

Family law expert Chris Forster, of Slater & Gordon, said it would be easier for a mistress to make a claim for spousal maintenance.

He said success would depend on the length of a relationship and the mistress proving a level of financial reliance on her illicit partner.

"I don't imagine there is much prospect of the mistress and the wife fighting over the family home," Mr Forster said.

"If there is priority, I suspect the priority would go to the wife in a situation where a man had a mistress."

Another family lawyer, Paul Hopgood, said the door was ajar for jilted lovers from extra-marital affairs to seek maintenance orders.

"I get high-profile people saying, 'I'm having an (affair) with so and so. I wine and dine her and take her on holidays'," Mr Hopgood said.

"'I look after her and it's been going on for five years. But I'm safe. She hasn't got the key to my house.'

"You don't have to live in the same house and under the same roof to be a de facto."

If that is really spelled out in the Act - and I'll be downloading a copy before I take the Ferald Scum's word for it - then maybe it's not accidental at all. Because those words pretty specifically spell out "not monogamy" to me; perhaps not polyfamilies per se, but a fairly explicit recognition that an individual can have more than one "genuine" relationship.

And if this is the same amendment that passed the Senate on the same day, changing the meaning of the term "de facto" to include same-sex partners in 68 other Acts, and polyfamilies are able to write and sign their own binding financial and domestic agreements ...

... does this suddenly make Australia the world's first poly-friendly jurisdiction?

X-posted to polyamory, polyamory_aus
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