Belgian law professor wants a legal status for polygamous households

Tuesday, 08 August 2017 11:05
People in polygamous relationships do not have any legal rights in Belgium. People in polygamous relationships do not have any legal rights in Belgium. © Belga
In Flanders, there are 27 000 people who define themselves as “polygamous”, people who have a romantic relationship with more than one person at a time.
Frederik Swennen, professor in family law at the University of Antwerp, argues for there to be a legal protection for these people. Polyamory, can take several forms, a couple that cohabits while having other relaltionships, a household composed of two women and one man, two men and one woman, or a bachelor with several relationships at the same time. 

“I consider polyamory more strictly, warns Professor Swennen. “My conception is a group of people who live under the same roof and share the same bed. Most of the time, it involves three people, whereby everyone in it has a relationship with the other two. In case something wrong happens, these people do not have any legal safety net at the moment.

The professor wonders what elements could be adapted or included from the usual marriage contract. “Each member in the polyamory could pay bills according to his revenues for example”. “But one could also look in and discuss heritage, he goes on to explain and the right to decide on children, or the right to leave in the event of marriage or death in the family."

However, the real question, is to find out if Belgium is ready to legally anchor these new relationship forms. “The Belgian Minister of Justice, Koen Geens, is currently taking the opposite route, explains Professor Swennen. Rather than looking into proposals that would see the legal coexistence expanded to several people. Geens, wants to limit this to two romantic partners." 

Andy Sanchez
The Brussels Times
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