Live in Relationship

The rapid westernization of our society and the broad mindset of the educated in our country has led to acceptance and propagation of concepts like “live-in-relationships”.  Such a relationship is essentially a living arrangement where a man and a woman cohabit on a long term basis and heir relationship is recognized by society as resembling that of marriage.

Couples cohabit rather than marry for a variety of reasons including to test compatibility prior to committing to the legal bond of marriage or if they think that marriage is unnecessary etc. Live in relationships grant immense financial independence to both parties, unlike marriage where the couple is generally considered to enter a joint financial venture.  Living together without a marriage certificate is a fundamental right and there is nothing illegal about it provided that the parties are otherwise qualified to enter into a valid marriage. In India, presently there is no law defining the maxims of a live-in relationship. The Supreme Court however, has observed in a current ruling that a woman who has lived in a live-in relationship for a “reasonably long period of time” should enjoy the same rights that a married woman is entitled to.

Despite scores of couples opting for live in relationships, it is still largely considered a taboo in our society and is said to dilute morals and traditions. In countries like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Scotland, France, there are proper legislations that deal with aspects of live in relationships.  In India, the Supreme Court opined in 2010 that a man and a woman living together without marriage cannot be construed as an offence. The court has also held that under no circumstance is a child born from such a relationship illegitimate and is entitled to inherit any property left behind by either parent. A legitimate child is born from a relationship where the parents have been consistently living together for a number of years and not from a walk-in walk-out relationship.

However, Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code has taken care that no legitimate or illegitimate child is left unattended by the biological father. It says that a man must maintain his legitimate or illegitimate child and casts an obligation on the biological father if his offspring is without any means of sustenance.