Polyamorous relationships take work — just as monogamous relationships do. They require communication and understanding, just like monogamous relationships. And, just like monogamous relationships, that communication sometimes breaks down or one or more of the partners fall out of love or something else happens to make the partnership break up.
When the partnership involves children, though, the complications they face are no longer just like monogamous couples — because the law doesn't recognize a relationship between three or more people as valid, and legally sharing custody between multiple partners is pretty much impossible.
That's what makes a new ruling from a judge in New York so groundbreaking. Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge H. Patrick Leis III just granted tri-custody of a 10-year-old boy to a man, his ex-wife, and their ex-girlfriend, according to the New York Post.
Dawn and Michael Marano, from Long Island, married in 1994. In 2001 they met Audria Garcia, who lived in an apartment downstairs from them. All three became friends, but when Garcia broke up with her boyfriend she moved in with the Maranos and "began to engage in intimate relations" with them, the ruling says.
In 2007 Michael Marano and Garcia had a baby. Although Garcia was the biological mother to their son, all three partners "conceived" of the idea to have a baby together. Garcia carried their son because Dawn Marano was infertile, according to the New York Post.
The trio broke up in 2008 when Dawn Marano and Garcia decided they'd rather be a couple without Michael Marano and moved into a new home. Michael Marano sued Garcia for sole custody of their son and Dawn Marano sued Michael Marano for divorce.
Dawn Marano also sued for her own rights of custody, since she was worried that not having legal custody would make her relationship with her son dependent on the consent of her girlfriend and her ex-husband, according to the New York Post.
Judge Leis proved that he's not a regular judge — he's a cool judge — by chastising Michael Marano for trying to take custody away from both women when no one told him "to conceive a child with his wife’s best friend," and by asking the kid about his relationship with his two moms.
Leis asked the trio's son how he told his moms apart. His answer? One was "mommy with the orange truck" and the other was "mommy with the gray truck."
Since their child saw both women as his mothers, biological or not, Leis decided that all three parents would share custody. He granted Michael Marano weekends, Dawn Marano Wednesday nights and one week of vacation, and Audria Garcia residential custody, according to the New York Post.
Both women are thrilled with the ruling, but Michael Marano, who is not so thrilled, plans to appeal.