Legality of Live in Relationships in India


Registration of a marriage is proof of marriage but it does not imply the existence of complete and lawful marriage between the parties. Thus, if solemnization of marriage between parties is not available, it will be presumed to be valid by cohabilitation between the parties.

Where a man and a woman live together as husband and wife for a long term, the law will presume that they were legally married unless proved contrary. Also, children born out of a live-in relationship may be allowed to succeed inheritance in the property of the parents, if any, but doesn’t have any claim as against Hindu ancestral property or under Hindu Undivided Family (HUF).

The Allahabad High Curt again recognized the concept of live in relationship in the case of Payal Katara vs. Superintendent, Nari Niketan and others, wherein it held that live in relationship is not illegal. The Court said that a man and a woman can live together as per their wish even without getting married. It further said that it may be immoral for the society but is not illegal.

The court made it clear that if the man has a live-in arrangement with a woman only for sexual reasons, neither partner can claim benefits of a legal marriage. In order to be eligible for alimony, a relationship must comply with certain conditions, the apex court said. The following conditions were laid down by the apex Court:

  • The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses;
  • They must be of legal age to marry; they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried;
  • They must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time.

Women in live in relation can take protection under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and can claim for maintenance also.

In 2008 it was recommended and supported by the judgment in Abhijit Bhikaseth Auti v. State Of Maharashtra and Others, that live in female partners can also claim for the right of maintenance under Section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 and a partner of a live in relationship can also accord for protection by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

In a case in Delhi, the Delhi High Court awarded Rs. 3000/- per month as maintenance to a maid who was in a live in relationship with her widower employer.
In Varsha Kapoor vs UOI & Ors., the Delhi High Court has held that female living in a relationship in the nature of marriage has right to file complaint not only against husband or male partner, but also against his relatives.

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