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Civil Union of Three Raises Uncertainty Over Legal Rights

Civil Union of Three Raises Uncertainty Over Legal Rights

Recently, three women joined together in a civil union in Rio de Janeiro. The women, a businesswoman, a dentist, and an administrative assistant, have all lived together for the last three years. They each signed a prenuptial agreement; they each created wills should one of them die; and they have each given the other two women the right to make decisions for them in the case of a medical emergency.

The choice to create the civil union, however, was prompted by their desire to have children. They plan for any children born to the union to take on all three women’s surnames.

This is not the first case of a trio getting “married” in Brazil. In 2012, two women and a man were married in São Paulo. Plus, a recent Brazilian telenovela included a wedding of three women. However, because the women’s marriage is not legal according to Brazilian law, it is only symbolic at this point.

Some people are not happy with the trio’s union. Regina Beatriz Tavares, the president of the Association of Family Rights and Inheritance said:

The Brazilian Constitution firmly states that a partnership can only be established by two people, and the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex unions also refers specifically to two people.

In Brazil, polygamy is not protected, so some legal scholars doubt the family courts will recognize all three women as the mothers of any children born to the union. According to data collected by the Brazilian Geographic and Statistical Institute, households composed of a husband, wife, and their children made up 75 percent of households in 1980. By 2013, this traditional family structure only made up 43.9 percent of households. The other 56.1 percent of families were single mothers, single fathers, couples without children, and same-sex couples.

While polygamist relationships were not included in the statistics, the other non-traditional relationships were also once unaccepted practices that today are part of the norm in Brazil. Whether polygamist relationships follow suit in the coming months or years is anyone’s guess. That said, the legal battles over custodial and parental rights will certainly come before the courts in due course.

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