Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Live-in Relationship



It means cohabitation is an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a ong-term permanent basis I an emotionally and/or sexually intimate rekationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married. People may live together for a number of reasons. These may include warning to test the compatability or to establish financial security before marrying.

People can also decide to stay in live-in relationship because they are unable to marry, for instance, if they  are of the same sex, some interracial or inter-religious marriages are not legal or permitted. Some individuals may also choose cohabitation because they see their relationships as being private and personal matters, and not to becontrolled by political, religious or patrichal institutions. Indian society is yet to become more accepting of such relationships despite their being legal validity accorded to live-in relationship by the judiciary. 


  1. Chanmuniya Vs. Virendra Kumar 2010 AIR SCW 6497: the major question in this case was with respect to interpretation of the term “wife” in context of maintenance under live-in relationship. According to PWDVA, 2005 the court said that the act itself provides a very wide interpretation to the term “domestic relationship” so as to take it outside the otherwise confines of marital relationship in the nature of marriage. Thus, a woman in live-in relationships is also to all the reliefs in the said act. 

The court held that a man who lived with a woman for a long term even though without having undergone legal necessaties of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay maintenance if he deserts her. The man shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes b enjoying advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking duties and obligations. 

  1. D. Velusamy Vs. D. Patchaiammal AIR 2011 SC 479: the apex court held that the relationship in the nature of marriage is akin to common law marriage which too require compliance with certain conditions, that is,

  • The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses. 

  • They must be of legal age of marry.

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

  • They must be voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

  1. Indra Sarma Vs. V.K.V. Sarma AIR 2014 SC 309: the major question raised in this question was, would non-maintenance of the female in alive-in relationship, not in the nature of marriage, amount to “domestic violence” within the meaning of PWDVA, 2005 entitling her to seek the various reliefs under section 12 of the act.

The court pointed out the distinction between a relationship in the nature of marriage and the marital relationship, wherein it observed that a relationship of marriage continues notwithstanding difference of opinion or unrest, even if they are not sharing a shared household, being based on law. But live-in relationship is purely an arrangement between the parties, unlike a legal marriage. Once a party to a live-in relationship determines that she/he does not wish to live in such relationship, that relationship comes to an end. 

According to the court, live-in relationship with a married person cannot be a relationship in the nature of marriage. Party to such relationship would either be concubine, or one practicing polygamy f person having adulterous relationship. Where a person knowingly enters into a relationship with other knowing that he was married then the legal consequence of a valid marriage will not apply, hence the relationship would not be a relationship in the nature of marriage and the status of the lady would be of concubine. 

The court gave detailed guidelines basing it for the factual and legal positions i.e., 

  • Duration of period of relationship 

  • Pooling of resources

  • Domestic arrangements

  • Sexual relationship

  • Children

  • Socialising in public

  • Intention and conduct of the parties. 

The court pointed out the need for a law to protect the disadvantaged woman and children born out of such relationships. It also said that there can be no relationship in the nature of marriage between the same sex. The court delved on the issue of tort/damages for alienation of affection. 

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