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Case Notes: Does a polyamorous relationship take away custody?

In V.B. and C.B. v. J.E.B. and C.C., 2012 Pa. Super 20, the Superior Court dealt with the issue of whether the court should remove a parents primary custody due to a "polyamorous" relationship. A polyamorous relationship is a sexual relationship involving more then two parties.

In V.B. and C.B., Father and Mother never married and had two children. At the time of the births, Mother and Father were involved in a polyamorous relationship. Mother was actually married at the time, but Mother, her Husband, and Father all lived together with the children. After an allegation of abuse, the children were temporarily placed with the maternal grandparents. However, no abuse was found.

After the children were returned to the parents, Mother and Father had since moved apart and set up a shared custody plan giving the maternal grandparents limited partial custody as well. Unsatisfied with this arrangement, the grandparents filed for primary custody. Following a hearing, the trial court granted primary physical and sole legal custody to the grandparents.

The Superior Court overturned this decision based primarily on the fact that there is a presumption that children are to remain in the custody of a parent over a third party. The Superior Court essentially found that the trial court injected its own view of morality onto the proceedings and ignored the fact that the parents were perfectly capable and happy to perform their parental duties. Sexual proclivities alone won't defeat the presumption that a parent receives custody over a third party, without clear evidence the children are being harmed by the arrangement.