January 17, 2022

Live in Relationships: Legality and Rights of Women and Children


Live in Relationships and its Legality

India has changed alot with the growing world in various fields not only as per technology but also the way Indian people perceiving their relationships. When we take recent scenario Adultery which is present under Section 497 of IPC is decriminalized according to the growing living conditions and respect the privacy of an individual. Now, when we come to live in relationships previously it is considered as big crime in most of the peoples mind but it slowly fading away when one section of society start opening up at the idea of pre- marital sex and live in relationships. This mindset is mainly result of freedom, privacy, education and also globalisation.

India is a place where when two persons if they want to live together have to get themselves tied in a relationship called marriage. But, in 21st century a new concept emerged called as live in relationships is a concept in which a man and women live together without getting married. Recently even Supreme Court has passed many judgements in regarding to live in relationships and it is also noted in Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 has considered it as legitimate relationship.[1] the main question in live in relationship whether it is given legal status or not but in most parts of India people being in live in relationships is said that they committed a big sin.[2]

Live in Relationships Under Indian Law

The Supreme Court of India defined live in relationships in five distinct ways in the case of

Indra Sarma Vs. V.K.V. Sarma

1. A simplest kind of relationship in this is cohabitation between an adult unmarried male and an unmarried female.

2. The cohabitation between married man and unmarried women who entered this mutually with consent.This also considered as Adultery which is now decriminalized.

Many youngsters selecting live in relationships because of high rate of divorce whether in arrange marriages or in love marriages. They want to know the compatabilty of both the individuals then decided upon the marriage. As marriage is not only between two people but also two familes and their lives collide so they are being very careful when entering into marriage as live in relationship does not give any commitment to any of the partner to live forever even though it is legalised. It can be defined as walk- in or walk- out relationships.

Live in Relationships and Its Legality

In the case of Badri prasad vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation[2] came before supreme court that whether live in relationship is a legal relationship or not. In the above case couple being unmarried were living like that for 50 years. The apex court gave legal status to their 50 years relationship. In the case of S. Khusboo vs. Kanniammal v. another SC held that living together is a fundamental right comes under right to life and personal liberty under section 21 of the Indian constitution. It mentioned that live in relationships is absolutely valid in the eyes of law. In case of Alok kumar vs. The state[3]. The Delhi High Court mentioned that live in relationship is a walk in and walk out relationships and it does not create any obligation on the partners living together and none of the partners cannot approach court for any kind of infidelity.

Protection against exploitation of women and children in live-in relationships

Maintenance of women

Generally the maintenance right is available to all the married women under all personal laws in India. But , none of them accept live in relationships. To grant remedy to women under live in relationships court has widened its scope and provided Section 125 of Criminal procedure code to grant maintenance to women who are in the marriage and out of marriage. It is generally applicable to all the women who can claim maintenance.

Domestic Violence

The Domestic Violence Act was enforced as an attempt to protect women from abusive (physical, mental, verbal or economic) marital relationships. However, as per Section- 2 (f), it not only applies to a married couple, but also to a ‘relationship in nature of marriage’.

Therefore, considering all this even the Supreme Court in a couple of cases has allowed live-in relationships to be covered within the ambit of the law specified.

Children out of marriage

Partners living together for a long time may have kids together. However, live-in couples are not allowed to adopt kids as per the Guidelines Governing the Adoption of Children as notified by the Central Adoption Resource Authority. Children born to live-in partners are considered legitimate and enjoy all property rights due to them. They have the right to self-acquired properties of parents under the Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act. In case, the live-in partners are estranged, the maintenance of children is still a duty of the parents.

Custody and maintenance rights of children

The position on the maintenance rights of children out of marriage varies in personal marriage laws. For instance, under the Hindu Law the father has to maintain the child, whereas under the Muslim Law the father has been absolved of such an obligation.

However, under Section- 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code, remedy is available for children who are unable to claim maintenance under personal laws. Section- 125 provides a legal right of maintenance to wives, children.

Moral And Social Issues

Many people think that live in relationships are just a way of fulfilling sexual desires of two individuals and people consider it as just same as prostitution. This mindset just need social conditioning and many people need to understand that people just don’t go into live in relationship just to fulfill their desires but the main reason is people want to know the other partner completely and check whether they are compatible with each other because marriage is a lifelong relationship and every person has a right to decide that other person is perfect for him or not. Individual liberty and and freedom are the essences of democracy so we must value them even in the case of live in relationships.


I consider live in relationships are beneficial to society especially to the Indian society as live in couple spend quality of time with each other before deciding on marriage and it is even logical and good to know that person completely , especially in India where the divorce cases are on rise.[4] But, Hindu philosophers say that live in relationships are against the Dharmas and it is not sacred as marriage because marriage is considered as sacred and seven generations. But you should not forcibly apply that principles if any individual wants to live in together as per their wish you should respect their opinion and give their liberty to that in a democratic country and those couples should not be suffered because of narrowed mindset of the people. It is very appreciable that finally judiciary with various judgements welcomed the idea of live in relationships and given that legal status in today’s world.


[1] Chakshu thakral and Amit chauhan, ” live in relationship as a new form of family”, 2 wisdom crux(2018) 2 Mohith chibber and Aditya Singh, “live in relationship: An ethical and moral dielama”, international journal of applied research,(2015)

[2] AIR 1978, SC 1557

[3] 5 Crl. M.C.No.299/2009(India)

[4] Supra note 2, at 1

Author Details: DivyaDasari and Ranjana Jaiswal (Reva University, Bangalore)

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