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Live-In Relationship: Rights One Needs To Know

Updated: Jan 15

A Live-In Relationship refers to an arrangement wherein the unmarried partners choose to live together for a certain period. This form of relationship is similar to the nature of an actual marriage. The unmarried partners’ cohabitate together for a continuous period of time without fulfilling any obligations, commitments, and duties towards each other. The partners possess an absolute right of ending the relationship as per their will and desire. A live-in relationship provides the couples with an opportunity to be acquainted with each other without entering into lawful wedlock. Thus, it proves to be beneficial for couples who tend to give a mere chance to their relationship without engaging in a legally binding relationship.

Despite no laws being guiding the enforcement of live-in relationships in India, still, the women as well the children borne out of such relationships are protected by law. They can claim their rights in a just and equitable manner.

1) Maintenance of woman: The Right of Maintenance is provided under Section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure. This section is considered to be an integral part of CrPC as, after the recommendations of the Malimath Committee, the meaning of the term ‘wife’ under this section has been expanded to an extent that the women living in a live-in relationship are also covered under it. Thus, the Indian courts have expanded the scope of maintenance under CrPC. This resulted in providing the right to maintenance to women in a live-in relationship under Section 125 CrPC.

2) Custody and maintenance of children: Apart from remedies available under personal laws, section 125 Code of Criminal Procedure provides a legal right for the maintenance of children born out of a live-in relationship. In the case of Dimple Gupta v Rajiv Gupta, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that. “even an illegitimate child who is born out of an illicit relationship is entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC” Thus, this section of CrPC clearly guarantees the maintenance to children irrespective of the fact that whether they are legitimate or illegitimate. The children can even be minors or major in cases where such children are unable to maintain themselves. However, in case of Savitaben Somabhai Bhatiya v State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court, the Hon’ble Court made an exception wherein the live-in partner had assumed the role of a second wife and due to this, she was not granted any maintenance, whereas the child born out of such relationship was granted maintenance.

3) Domestic Violence: The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was enacted with the objective of protecting women from abusive relationships faced by them in lawful marriage. The abuse can in any form i.e. mental, oral, economic, or physical. However, according to section 2 (f) of the DV Act, the applicability of this act is not only extended to a married couple but also includes a “relationship in the nature of marriage”. As also laid down by the Supreme Court in various judgments, the protection to the women in a live-in relationship is guaranteed under the ambit of the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

4) The legitimacy of Children: In the case of S.P.S. Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, that, “If a man and woman are living under the same roof and cohabiting for some years, there will be a presumption under Section 114 of the Evidence Act that they live as husband and wife and the children born to them will not be illegitimate.” It was the very first case pondering upon the legitimacy of children born out of a live-in relationship. Again, in the case of Tulsa v. Durghatiya, it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that a child born out of a live-in relationship will not be considered as an illegitimate child. However, one of the crucial prerequisites is that the parents of such a child must have lived under one roof and cohabited for a significantly long period of time for the society to recognize them as husband and wife and it should not be a “walk-in and walk-out” relationship.

It is often observed that it is the woman who faces the worst side of the live-in relationship. However, it is crucial for women to be rightly aware of the rights available to her as well as her children. The Indian Courts have played a vital role in guaranteeing the rights, be it within terms of financial security or otherwise, in favour of the women who is in a live-in relationship.


Yashika Kapoor is currently studying law from GGSIPU.

You can contact them: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yashika-kapoor-225a05185

Edited by: Swati Tolambia

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