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Selected news articles, blog posts, media interviews, and lectures


December 2016: Bloomberg.com interview with Diana Adams

Diana was interviewed for a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek, speaking on how triads (or configurations of more than 2) can plan finances, and legally protect themselves beyond the traditional couple:

How Couples Do Money (Bloomberg.com)

“...We talk about how the new partner may not have access to health insurance or immigration benefits, tax benefits. Some people are interested in the creation of an LLC to create the relationship under a corporate structure that would allow people to share property. Sometimes that original couple will decide to get a divorce so that they won’t have that privileged status over the third person…”

Full article: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-12-01/how-couples-do-money

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November 2016: VICE interview with Diana Adams

Diana was interviewed by VICE about her work representing poly/kinky/trans parents in custody cases & the bias they face. Notice the illustration at the top of the article, which may perpetuate the very stereotypes we try to combat.

How Kinky and Non-Traditional Parents are Punished by Family Courts (VICE.com)

Though most states now prohibit judges from using sexual orientation as a factor in family court rulings, judges are still free to cite a parent's polyamorous or kinky proclivities—or even a willingness to have non-marital sex—as an explicit reason for handing down rulings. In any case, family court judges are often not explicit about the exact factors that lead to their rulings. Adams recounted one case in which a family court removed a child from the custody of a transgender client, ostensibly because her client's cat was sick the day a child services worker visited and vomit was seen on the floor. But Adams said that "a white cisgender professional mother like me would never lose custody of her child because a sick cat made a mess."

Full article:  http://www.vice.com/read/how-kinky-and-non-traditional-parents-are-punished-by-family-courts

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October 2016: “After Marriage" Conference video with Andy Izenson

Andy presented at the “After Marriage Conference: The Future of LGBTQ Politics and Scholarship” at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in NYC as part of panel on “Where Do We Go From Here? A Roundtable Discussion on Future Fronts in the Battles for Family Diversity."  Watch the video here or below:

Andy Izenson Presenting at the After Marriage Conference


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May 2016:  Woodhull Freedom Foundation Guest Blog Post by Andy Izenson

Blogging LGBT Families Day

“As an attorney-mediator working in the field of non-traditional family law, the medium of my work is human connection. There are dozens of types of ways that humans can be interconnected in the legal realm: romantically, sexually, financially, and many others. We can live together, raise children together, own property together. We can give each other power over our healthcare decisions or our estates, and we can even share our citizenship with each other. These connections are the practical manifestations of the intimacies and commitments that we build through our relationships throughout our lives; they’re the way we demonstrate that we intend to be there for one another.

Marriage is made of these connections. Specifically, it is made of a gigantic lump of these connections, attached inseparably together, and all connected to one person simultaneously. It is over one thousand rights, benefits, and connections, and the assumption that you want to have every single one of those with the same person. This assumption is based on the narrative of a heterosexual, monogamous, dyadic pair who meet all of one another’s needs, who co-parent children who are biologically related to both of them, who are economically stable and operate as a nuclear unit.

People doing direct services and advocacy work in the field of nontraditional family law work with and support families that don’t look like that. We help provide benefits and protections for relationships that are illegible to the law and, often, to society. In this direct services and advocacy work, we value those thousands of connections highly, but we value them as discrete choices to be made individually and with intention. We value and validate the diverse and creative family structures that our clients and communities have which allow them to desire these connections with various people, instead of just one.

This is what families actually look like; less than half of adults in the United States today live in a nuclear family with a spouse, and yet all the legal tools that exist are set up to support that configuration alone. We work with existing and creative tools to provide legal stability and intentionality to people who live in other configurations – configurations that tend to correlate with deviation from whiteness, from heterosexuality, and from cisness, and often tend to correlate as well with lower economic stability.”

Read the rest: http://www.woodhullfoundation.org/2016/sex-and-politics/blogging-lgbt-families-day/

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April 2016: NPR interview with Diana Adams

For Couples Skipping The Ring, It Pays To Plot Out Finances

“Diana Adams, an attorney in New York specializing in nontraditional family law, says it's common for couples to feel uncomfortable talking about finances. "People often shy away from having these conversations about money in a really frank way," Adams says. "People often don't have that conversation and end up feeling disappointed or hurt down the line."

It's best, she says, to be honest and clear. "It's part of intimacy to have conversations that can feel awkward," she says. Adams suggests broaching it this way: Now that we are moving in together, I think we should talk about how we should divide up finances, to make sure we're on the same page. Is this a good time to talk about that, or would you like to set a time aside next week? 

"I would suggest if that's not easy, people seek out the support of a compassionate professional such as a family mediator or lawyer to help broker that conversation," Adams says.

Full article: http://www.npr.org/2016/04/17/473498335/for-couples-skipping-the-ring-it-pays-to-plot-out-finances

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April 2016: Sex for Smart People podcast interview with Andy Izenson

Associate Attorney Andy Izenson was interviewed by Stephanie Ryan Johnstone for the Sex for Smart People podcast:

Get Rid of the Idea That Sex Can Be Easy

Healing from trauma, holding compassion and rage at the same time, transformative + restorative justice in response to sexual assault, the just world fallacy, the sexiness of holding nuance and complexity, noticing who we can communicate with based on our positionality, ways of holding safe space for a person who has experienced trauma, the beauty of leading with vulnerability, welcoming loved one’s whole selves (including their wounds), moving away from default scripts about bodies + gender + sex acts, listening each other into fullness, fuck the Valentine’s Day Industrial Complex, fuck the idea that love can or should be contained in any way, and fuck the idea that love is a finite resource. We are oh so honored and grateful that Andy Izenson (activist, attorney, consent + alternative justice models educator) joined us in this doozy of a conversation, full of much darkness and much love and much light.

Listen here! http://sexforsmartpeople.com/podcast/episode-27-get-rid-of-the-idea-that-sex-can-be-easy/

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February 2016: Washington Post interview with Diana Adams

A therapist, a lawyer, and a sex educator answer our questions about polyamory

“When it comes to custody of kids, U.S. legal policy is structured around the two-person nuclear family and isn’t well-suited to protecting polyamorous families with three or four adults in children’s lives.

Still, Diana Adams, managing partner of Diana Adams Law & Mediation in New York, works with polyamorous individuals to come up with creative prenuptial, co-parenting and co-habitation agreements to give them “as much financial and legal stability as possible in a legal system that does not recognize their family form,” she says.

“I’ve seen many poly families create stable co-parenting relationships,” Adams notes. “It’s critical they don’t rush into that situation without professionals.”

The problems, she says, arise in such situations as when a couple with a child might have a girlfriend move in and it’s unclear: Is she a third parent or just a cohabiting friend? “Those kinds of muddled relationships are where the real problems lie,” Adams says, “both in co-parenting situations as well in sperm-donor agreements.”

Since polyamorous families don’t necessarily have legal rights, “you may be up against the proclivities of a specific judge” in a co-parenting or custody dispute, Adams notes. She tries to create contracts that a court would enforce, “but ultimately the judge would be looking at the best interest of the child as well as whatever agreement came before.”

Read the full article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soloish/wp/2016/02/12/a-therapist-a-lawyer-and-a-sex-educator-answer-our-questions-about-polyamory/

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November 2015:  Vice Magazine Interview with Diana Adams

Death Is Way More Complicated When You’re Polyamorous

There's not a lot of research into how poly families cope with death—probably because there's not a lot of research about how poly families choose to live. By rough estimates, there are several million poly people in the United States. And while polyamory can bring people tremendous benefits in life and in death, our social and legal systems weren't designed to deal with people with more than one romantic partner—so when one person dies, it can usher in a slew of complicating legal and emotional problems.

“Whether people realize it or not, the partner to whom they are married will have more benefits and rights once a death happens," explained Diana Adams…”

Full article: http://www.vice.com/read/death-is-way-more-complicated-when-youre-polyamorous-511

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July 2015:  Huffington Post interview with Associate Attorney Andy Izenson

Polyamorous Attorney Agrees SCOTUS Decision Could Lead to Group Marriage

One of the conservative right’s favorite arguments against legalized same-sex marriage nationwide is that it’s a slippery slope that could lead to polygamy — and if you’re Justice Anthony Scalia or Ben Carson, it could even lead to bestiality. Others argue that drawing a connection between gay marriage and plural marriage is both an irrelevant and unfounded argument. However, one attorney argued on HuffPost Live on earlier this week that polygamy could have legal precedent.

Andy Izenson, an attorney with Diana Adams Law and Mediation who also identifies as polyamorous, explained to host Nancy Redd that the same legal reasoning to protect same-sex marriage under the 14th Amendment “could plausibly” be extended to protect group marriages, presuming it’s consensual.

“The idea that a three-person or four-person union between consenting adults is not fundamentally different from a two-person union between consenting adults is absolutely legit,” Izenson said.

But he added that the conservative “slippery slope” rhetoric that somehow leads to “bestiality and then people marrying their toasters” is baseless because it negates the need for consent. Izenson said Scalia invokes these presumptions as a means of scaring people because he’s perturbed by the country’s current socio-political climate.

“He’s just trying to scare people. It’s not actually a thing to be concerned about. It discounts the fact that as individuals, and as a society, we actually have the capacity to make rational reasoned choices about what we do,” he said, later adding, “But as long as you’ve got a consensual union between adults who know what they’re doing, then I think the logic is sound.”

Read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/04/same-sex-marriage-polygamy_n_7705744.html

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June 2015:  Reason Magazine article by Diana Adams

Hacking Marriage: Polyamory, creative prenups, platonic co-parenting, open marriage, and the power of contracts

“The United States government really wants you to get hitched. Married couples enjoy over 1,000 specific rights and responsibilities under the law, from tax credits to immigration to health insurance. Here's the problem: Over 50 percent of American adults are unmarried, yet many of those people are nonetheless part of families or relationships that could and should benefit tremendously from official status.

As same-sex marriages gradually win legal and social status, it's becoming harder to make the case that these other relationships shouldn't be similarly recognized. Luckily, thanks to the powerful tool of private contracts, families of all kinds can and do figure out ways to protect their love and family relationships with the people they choose.

Continue reading: http://reason.com/archives/2015/04/30/hacking-marriage

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March 2015: Harvard Law School Lambda: Bisexuality and the Law

Professor Nancy Marcus, Assistant Professor at Indiana Tech Law School; Andy Izenson and Diana Adams of Diana Adams Law & Mediation, PLLC. Watch the lecture video here.

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September 2014: Harvard Journal of Law and Gender-Lambda Colloquium: Frontiers of Sexuality

Polyamory and the Law – Screening of media depictions of polyamorous relationships followed by a discussion with Professor Hadar Aviram (UC Hastings College of Law) and Diana Adams (legal activist for sexual civil rights and nontraditional families). Watch the lecture video here.

Adultery and the Law – Professor Brenda Cossman (University of Toronto Faculty of Law) and Diana Adams. Watch the lecture video here.

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March 2014: Special Arrangements: The Changing Face of the 21st Century Relationship

Diana Adams participated as an expert on polyamory and non-monogamy in a panel discussion on "Special Arrangements: The Changing Face of the 21st Century Relationship" with Sunny Bates (moderator), Reid Mihalko of ReidAboutSex.com, and Esther Perel of www.EstherPerel.com.

The talk gives a great overview of consensual non-monogamy, and we are delighted to see that it has 45k views on YouTube and has reached many people beyond that great room.

Full link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iDluKrMvYw 

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February 2014:  The Life of the Law interview with Diana Adams

Polyamourous Love

“When you love and trust people, a family is an easy thing to organize,” Howard says. “It’s the same for two people as it is for three people, anyone who’s in a really functional marriage understands. You love and respect and trust each other. It’s straightforward in that sense.”

But while things are straightforward within the home, outside of it, things aren’t so easy.

“The reactions from our immediate families were…in my case, the reactions were quite negative,” Callie says. “The reaction in Howard’s case the reaction was also quite negative.”

Sometimes, the negative reactions sometimes have legal implications. One of the most public cases was in 1998. April Divilbiss and her two partners came out as polyamorous on an MTV documentary show. Soon after, Divilbiss received an emergency protective custody order telling her that daughter was now in the custody of her paternal grandparents.

The charge the grandparents brought was against the family was “moral degradation.” There were no other allegations of child abuse or anything of the like. Polyamorous people often have their rights as parents challenged, the same way many same sex couples do.

Diana Adams is an attorney and mediator in New York City. She has built her law practice representing what she calls non-traditional families: polyamorous triads; couples, straight and gay, who might want to choose not to get married; people who want to co-parenting who aren’t in a romantic relationship, such as two single mothers or sisters who decide that they want to co-parent children and share a household.

The problem that these families face, Adams says, is that the only way to be recognized as a family unit is to be married. To get married, in most states, you have to be a man and a woman unrelated by blood, of legal age, and embarking on a sexual relationship. You pay about 50 dollars for a marriage license, and there you have it: in the eyes of the law, you are considered to be a unit.

When you don’t meet these criteria, but you’re trying to live as a unit, raise kids, or share a household, the legal system doesn’t have a lot to offer you in terms of short cuts, Adams says.

“I think we would benefit from other options besides marriage. It would be a useful thing for our government to get out of the business of deciding whether a sexual relationship merits being in a marriage that gives you tax benefits. Marriage should be something that we can do in your church your mosque your hippie festival,” she says.

Adams is rooting for more general legal recognition of alternative families structures: Breaking away from the two-people-in-love-forever model and generating more options.

Changing legislation is a lifetime goal for Adams. In the meantime, she is working in the legal system as it currently exists, figuring out creative solutions for those navigating the uncharted terrain of family law for families that aren’t married…”

Full article: http://www.lifeofthelaw.org/tag/polyamorous/

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August 2012: Making Sense of Sex

Interview of Dr. Carol Queen by Diana Adams, discussing the golden rule, as applied to sexuality. This video is a collaboration between Sex Crimes Cabaret and Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance. 

Full link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhqZYCG6ME8

 


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