LEGAL STATUS OF LIVE IN RELATIONSHIP IN INDIA

Nowadays, we come across different dynamics of relationships but something that is talked about for a while now are live in relationships. Especially, in India where almost all families believe in the old school idea of marriage and then living together, the concept of live-in relationship doesn’t really fit well.

Definition and Meaning:

There is no legal definition of the term live-in relationship. A live-in relationship is: “An arrangement of living under which the couples which are unmarried life together to conduct a long-going relationship similarly as in marriage.[1]

Reasons behind live-in-relationship:

People get a different way to live together without having any binding over themselves to stay together. As it is widely and famously said “A live in relationship is better than a divorced life.” Also, it gives people a chance to know each other truly and understand their partner in a better manner which would not have been possible just meeting outside for a few hours.

But is live-in-relationship recognized as a valid relationship in India? Does it have any legal status?

The Fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India grants to all its citizens “right to life and personal liberty” which means that one is free to live the way one wants. Live in relationship may be immoral in the eyes of the conservative Indian society but it is not “illegal” in the eyes of law.[2]

The status of live-in relationship whether recognized legally or not is mentioned in a series of judgements by different courts.

In Payal Sharma v. Superintendent, Nari Niketan[3] the Allahabad High Court opined that “a man and a woman, even without getting married can live together if they wish. This may be regarded immoral by society but it is not illegal. There is a difference between law and morality.

If live-in-relationship is given a legal status then what about the problems occurring out of these relationships? What if there is a child involved and the couple breaks up then who shall be taking the responsibility of the child? If there is domestic violence would there be any remedy?

In case, the live-in partners are estranged, the maintenance of children is still a duty of the parents. According to the Hindu law, the father will need to pay for the maintenance while the father is not required to fulfil any such obligation, if they fall under the Muslim law. However, Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, children can always claim maintenance even if their personal law doesn’t favor them. [4]

Another question before us that is laid down above is whether the women is protected from domestic violence in live-in-relationships? The Domestic Violence Act provides protection to the woman if the relationship is “in the nature of marriage”. The Supreme Court in the case of D. Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal held that, a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ under the 2005Act must also fulfill the following criteria:

(a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.

(b) They must be of legal age to marry.

(c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.

(d) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time, and in addition the parties must have lived together in a ‘shared household’ as defined in Section 2(s) of the Act. Merely spending weekends together or a one-night stand would not make it a ‘domestic relationship’. It also held that if a man has a ‘keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage’.

Conclusion:

Not many people are aware about the legal status of live-in relationships. It is moreover not talked much on and should be discussed and be educated about.


[1] http://www.legalservicesindia.com/article/1013/Emerging-Concept-of-Live-in-Relationships.html 

[2] Swati Mishra, Live-in-relationship: a problem or a solution, http://www.mightylaws.in

[3] AIR 2001 All 254


[4] Sneha Sharon Mammen, Property Rights Of Live-In Couples & Their Children, makaan.com (March 12, 2019), https://www.makaan.com/iq/legal-taxes-laws/property-rights-in-live-in-relationship

Aishwarya Says:

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