Live-in Relationships

Posted On : December 14, 2023
Live-in Relationships
Marriage as a concept is not in society and is a very popular and old custom that is followed all over the world. This concept is well supported and accepted by each society it involves many customs that further work as a strength for the family system. It is supposed to have a longer bond of course until and unless it is subjected to an ailment either by the wife or the husband. The institution of marriage is considered the oldest institution in society which provides a base on which the whole structure of the current civilization and prosperity is built. It is certainly true that society and law are not alien to one another. When accounts act is there in the society it is supposed to gain meaning in the law. All of us know the old adage that "marriages are made in heaven "which means that marriages are pre-decided by God even before our birth and are solemnized here. Marriage is a union or rather we say a legal contract between the persons who create kinship. Marriages and institutions where relations that are interpersonal like sexual or intimate are acknowledged in various disciplines, it only depends on the tradition and the culture in which the marriage is existing. This thought about the institution of marriage is now changing day by day there are many reasons for that, because of which this concept losing its godliness. In this Indian society special in villages many times marriages are imposed on couples in that case love is not the reason for that marriage. In the present time as our society is becoming a modern society, a lifelong social bond which is the existence of marriage is always being questioned because it has certain legal obligations and many complexities. And that is why live-in relationships as a concept have been presented in society which can work as a substitute for marriage in many cases.
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Marriage is considered a sacrament between two people. The very first pond in society is marriage the next becomes the children and then comes the family.

A living arrangement where two unmarried people are for a long term or on a permanent basis and are in sexually and emotionally close relation then it seems quite similar to a marriage this concept is named a live-in-relationship. In this arrangement, the male and female live under the same roof without coming into the bond of marriage. So, it can be said that there is no string that is attached to this concept, and that is why it does not create any kind of legal obligation on any party. It can be said to be a contract that is renewed by the couple each day and the parties are free to terminate this contract even without the consent of his or her partner so the parties can walk out at any time and according to their volition.

There is no obligation on the part of the live-in couple as the married couples face the problem. 

  • Origin of Live-in relationship
    The term live-in relationship is a newly made phrase in India in the postmodern era, but interestingly this kind of relationship can be found in the history of human beings, back in the history of human beings, there was no concept of marriage, there were no kinds of rituals, there were no symbols that were mandatory for marriage like the Pre-wedding ring ceremony and the mangalsutra for the certificate of marriage registration. In the period of Vedas, the marriage of Shakuntala and King Dushyant as "Gandharva Vivah" there was a concept of "Maitray karar" in Gujarat was also existed this was something like a contract where male and female decided to live under a single roof by mutually deciding not to involve the family.[1]It can be said that the concept of live-in-relationship was not introduced by the Britishers in colonial times but the roots of this relationship can be found in Indian ancient history. So, this phrase live-in-relationship can be a new face but the whole concept is very old in our country. 


1.2  Reasons for choosing Live-In Relationships 

The following factors led to choosing a live-in relationship:


  • Before becoming legally wed, the couple wants to assess their compatibility with one another. In a live-in relationship, both individuals desire to maintain their status as unmarried and single.
  • The regulations restrict a pair's ability to be married if they are a homosexual couple or have already been married.
  • The parties to a live-in relationship might also prefer to end things amicably rather than go through the formalities of divorce.
  • Due to interreligious issues, the families of the couple may also be against the marriage of either one spouse or both partners.
  • When the marriage cannot take place due to some inconsistencies, couples opt for live-in relationships.
  • Without any formality, one can enter and exit a relationship with ease.
  • There is no need to spend a lot of money on dowries on wedding festivities.
  • According to a recent study, live-in boyfriends perform significantly more housework than married males, which is wonderful news for women.
  • Couples get to spend more time together because they are no longer limited by time limitations.


Live-in couple faces numerous challenges some of these challenges are as follows: 


  1. 1. Societal and moral acceptance: Due to the sophisticated culture in India, live-in relationships are not only discouraged but also not tolerated by the general populace. Additionally, a couple's parents can not approve of their relationship and forbid them from living together. When the newlyweds look for rental housing, they too run into problems. Along with their home, the couple also has problems in their workplace and other public areas.
  1. Documentation challenges: The issue of documents, especially in cases of a joint account holder, insurance, bank details, etc., the couple faces challenges due to the absence of a live-in relationship column.[2]
  1. Cultural values: The cultures and traditions to which Indian civilization belongs have a significant impact on it. Because all these cultures and traditions date back a very long time, they do not support the live-in relationship paradigm that is still prevalent today. Live-in relationships are strongly prohibited because cultural norms have a significant impact on the behaviors and attitudes of society. 
  1. Succession and Inheritance challenges:As the idea of a live-in relationship is relatively new, there haven't been any changes made to the rules governing succession and inheritance in cases of live-in relationships since all of those regulations were originally designed with a married pair in mind.
  1. Gender Biased: According to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act of 2005, a woman is recognized as a wife if she has been married to a man for a long period of time. She also has a few favorable conditions, such as those relating to property and maintenance. Unfortunately, it doesn't include any provisions for men or LGBT couples. Men are often prosecuted for sexual assault and taking advantage of a woman by making a fake marriage vow.[3]


In the case of S. Khushboo vs Kanniammal (2010)[4], the Supreme Court of India held  that there is no legal provision where adults are voluntarily associated in sexual  relationships other than marriage, and therefore it does not violate any law. The Court  further referred to the case of Lata Singh vs State of U.P. & Another (2006)[5] where the Court held that a major girl is free to marry anyone she likes or may live with anyone she likes. The Court further held that no offence has been committed by the accused and the present case is an abuse of the process of the court and the administration mechanism.

Furthermore, in the case of Velusamy v. D. Patchaiammal[6], A live-in relationship is acknowledged by the Supreme Court of India. According to the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005[7], a "relationship resembling marriage" must also meet a few fundamental requirements, the Supreme Court said in this case. The court held that a domestic connection could not be established by just a few weekend visits or a single nightstand. To meet the criteria for a live-in relationship, there are four essential conditions. The ladies would not be able to seek any relief from the law unless these prerequisites were established in a court of law.

(i)  legal age to marry, 

(ii) qualify to enter legal marriage,

(iii) must be unmarried,

(iv) voluntary cohabitation should be for a considerable period.

In the absence of any law to define the status of live-in relationships, the Courts have come forward to give clarity to the concept of live-in relationships. The court has held the law will presume that the couple is legally married if the man and woman are cohabiting for quite some period. 

In the case of Badri Prasad vs Dy. Director Of Consolidation And Ors (1978), [8]the Apex Court held that it is firmly presumed that a couple who have been living like husband and wife shall be husband and wife, but the such presumption is rebuttable and the burden of proof lies on the part of the person who seeks to rebut such relationship to its legal origins. Similar views were taken in the case of S.P.S. Balasubramanian vs Suruttayan (1993)[9], where the Court decided that if a man and woman live together for a long time as husband and wife, there is a presumption that their marriage is lawful unless the contrary is shown, and any children born to them are also not illegitimate and are therefore entitled to inherit the man's property.

In the case of Tulsa & Ors vs Durghatiya (2008)[10], while referring to Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872[11] the court held that the provisions under the said section refer to a common course of natural events, human conduct, and private business. The court shall presume the existence of facts that are likely to have happened. While interpreting Sections 50 and Section 114 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 combinedly, it is evident that the act of marriage is to be presumed from the view of the common course of natural events.

Living together is a right to life, according to the Supreme Court's ruling in Khushboo v. Kanniammal[12] .Even though a live-in relationship is not "legal" in the eyes of the law, it may be considered immoral in the conservative Indian community.

In the case of Indra Sarma vs V.K.V. Sarma (2013)[13], the Supreme Court of India held that live-in relationships may last for a considerable time can lead to standards of dependency and vulnerability, and with the increase in the number of live-in relationships, there must be sufficient protection, especially for women and those children who are born out of a such relationship. Live-in relationships are personal, and people are free to express their opinions in support of or against them. The government cannot encourage pre-marital sex. In order to offer protection for women and children born out of live-in relationships, the legislature must take this matter into consideration and pass separate legislation.


The judiciary has actively contributed to understanding the problems related to live-in and has maintained a balanced position. Following are certain laws dealing with live-in relationships in India. 

4.1  Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 

This statute is the only law that refers to the term “relationship in the nature of marriage” in the definition of domestic relationship given under section 2(f).[14] The phrase “relationship in nature of marriage” used in the definition is wide enough to include a live-in relationship within it. As per section 2(f), the Act not only applied to the married couple but also the “relationship in the nature of marriage”. Section 2(a)[15] of the Act defines “aggrieved person” as “any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent”.

4.2 Indian Evidence act, 1872 

The term "presumption of marriage" is used in Sections 50[16] and 114[17] of this Act to recognize cohabiting partnerships as marriages and the female living partner as a wife.[18] If a man and woman cohabit for a number of years and live under the same roof, the courts will apply this presumption.[19]

4.3  Criminal Procedure Code,1973 

According to § 125(1)(b,)[20] of the Criminal Procedure Code, a woman who has been divorced from her husband and hasn't remarried is considered a "wife" for maintenance purposes. However, a woman in a live-in relationship does not have the status of a wife. Additionally, it lacks social acceptance or sanctity.

4.4  Law regarding maintenance 

"A bigamous marriage may be declared invalid because it violates the terms of the Hindu Marriage Act 1955, but it cannot be called immoral to deny the right of alimony or maintenance to the spouse," the Supreme Court of India ruled in Vidyadhari vs. Sukhrana Bai.[21]

4.5  Property and succession Laws 

In the present case, live-ins are not recognized by the law. The best way to inherit property is through a will. In absence of a will, a partner cannot claim the property. 

However. In the case of Vidyadhari vs. Sukhrana Bai [22], the court ruled that a live-in partner can inherit the property of the deceased partner if they are in a long-term live-in relationship. Without recognizing the inheritance right of such a partner, it would be disrespectful to the persons who dedicated their lives to a de-facto family.

4.6  Constitutional Protection 

Article 21[23] of the Indian Constitution confers the right to life and personal liberty and the right to privacy therefore legal rights of individuals are protected.


In terms of children's rights, a child born into a live-in relationship lacks the dignity and respect that a child born into a marriage would have. Due to a lack of adequate legislation, a child born from a live-in relationship is also subject to other forms of discrimination in regard to parental responsibility, legality, inheritance, etc.

5.1  Legitimacy

The legitimacy standard is dependent on marriage. However, children born from invalid marriages are given legitimacy by Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, of 1955.[24]

5.2  Guardianship

The Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 mandates that all decisions involving minors must be made only with the welfare and best interests of the minor in mind. Unresolved is who is responsible for raising a child who was born into a live relationship. Who will be in charge of caring for those youngsters when the parents separate or get divorced when the children are deemed to be illegitimate is a major concern. The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 195617, Section 6(b)[25], indirectly addresses live-in relationships. When a child is born out of wedlock, this clause gives the mother (the natural guardian) custody rights.

5.3  Maintenance 

Regardless of their legal status, young children are entitled to maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.[26] Even while both live-in relationships and marriages are legal in the perspective of the law, treating the children of each differently can amount to a breach of article 14, which guarantees equality before the law.


To argue against the idea of a live-in relationship that would violate the integrity and honour of matrimonial rites would be ineffective because marriage can be built via mutual respect rather than through marital sacraments.

In Indian society, live-in relationship is no longer unusual. It has settled in. While the number of couples living together is growing, marriage as a social institution is untouched. Whether you like it or not, the live-in relationship phenomenon is deeply ingrained in India's social structure and seems to be mounting a daring challenge to the institution of marriage. Every nation's legal system must adapt to the times as they change.

By providing this relationship a different and legal standing, a proper legislative rule can make a difference; for that reason, the Parliament need not rely on social trends or public perceptions. The concept of living in relationships is still thriving in urban places today. According to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, two people have the fundamental right to live as they choose if they don't feel compelled to conform to any social norms. In the middle of a relationship, a person may be abandoned in the absence of appropriate legal repercussions. To maintain fundamental rights while also ensuring that some marital rights are granted, a compromise is required.


[1] Pearl, D., 1978. The legal implications of a relationship outside marriage. The Cambridge Law Journal, 37(2), pp.252-269. 

[2] “Landmark Supreme Court Judgments Concerning the Legal Standing of Live-in Relationships - iPleaders.” iPleaders, 1 Sept. 2021, 

[3] Anupama Yadav, Anand Kumar.,Live In relationships: A Study on Legal Actions 

[4] S. Khushboo vs Kanniammal (2010) 5 SCC 600

[5] Lata Singh v the State of U.P., AIR 2006, SC 304 

[6] Velusamy vs D.Patchaiammal, AIR 2010, SC 361

[7] Domestic Violence Act,2005 

[8] Badri Prasad vs Dy. Director of Consolidation And Ors, AIR 1978, SC 354 

[9] S.P.S. Balasubramanyam vs Suruttayan, AIR 1993, SC 421 

[10] Tulsa & Ors vs Durghatiya, AIR 2008, SC 345 

[11] Section 114, Indian Evidence Act,1872

[12] Supra 4 

[13] Indra Sarma vs V.K.V. Sarma, AIR 2013, SC 431 

[14] Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, s 2(f).

[15] Protection of Woman from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, s 2(a). 

[16] Indian Evidence Act, 1872, s 50.

[17] Indian Evidence Act, 1872, s 114.

[18] Indian Evidence Act, 1872 

[19] Thakur Gokalchand vs Parvin Kumari., AIR 1952 SC 231.

[20] Criminal Procedure Code., § 125(1)(b,)

[21] Vidyadhari & Ors vs Sukhrana Bai & Ors., AIR 2008 SC 1420

[22] Ibid 

[23] Indian Constitution., article 14.,

[24] Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, s 16.

[25] The Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, s 6.

[26] Criminal Procedure Code, 1973, s 125.


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