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This article is written by Srishti Agarwal of 3rd Semester of Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, an intern under Legal Vidhiya


live-in relationship or cohabitation is a term used for a couple who live like a wedded couple they are emotionally and sexually privately involved with each other. This article examines the reasons for living together, the potential implications for family relationships, and the societal views on this evolving form of intimate relationships. It explores the concept of live-in relationships as a form of modern love that challenges traditional standards and encourages conversations about individual autonomy, legal legitimacy, and societal acceptance of romantic relationships.


Cohabitation, Social Acceptance, Committed, Family, Indian Laws, Marriage


Live-in relationship or cohabitation is a term used for a couple who aren’t married but live as a wedded couple for a long-term or endless base where they’re emotionally and sexually privately involved with each other. marriage is considered a big step and life life-changing decision for a couple. They don’t want to involve their families emotionally and want to know each other deeply before committing to each other. They have the occasion to walk out of the relationship any time they want they do not have to file for divorce like marriage. When a couple moves in they do not have numerous prospects like marriage and also have a chance to spend time with each other It helps to test the water of one and a couple gets more freedom than a marriage.

Couples have the freedom to conduct their lives in their way, without having to adhere to rigid rules and regulations. They can retain their autonomy and privacy and do not have to make the necessary compromises that are often associated with marriage. They do not have to worry about pleasing anyone’s parents or putting anyone else’s needs above their own. Furthermore, the absence of a formal and social connection provides a sense of autonomy and freedom, allowing them to leave at any time if they feel that things are not progressing as they should.


in Indian society, people regard marriage as an integral part of society and they feel that marriage is the most sacred form of relationship. But now in the ultramodern period, effects have changed drastically people have started accepting live-in connections in society before for a live-in couple it was difficult to find a place in society.

This conception isn’t unknown in India it can be traced back to the Vedic period when people would have a Gandharv marriage it’s one of eight kinds of marriage that had some parallels to the live-in relationship which didn’t bear any kind of ritual or involvement of families they only had to give concurrence to live together. and it doesn’t bear the concurrence of anyone and they can live together because of love then girl chooses her mate Dushyant and Shakuntla are the classic exemplifications of this type of union.


In Western culture it’s veritably common would leave their parents and live alone would do part-time jobs to support themselves financially is common to have children in a relationship. it’s extensively respectable there and it isn’t seen as innocently wrong. these are the swift-growing types of families’ people are tired of the emotional and fiscal cost of marriage they do not want to follow traditional marriage. numerous regions have legal fabrics for cohabitating couple to cover their rights. They’ve started homogenizing this conception and started accepting it extensively.

CANADA –In Canada, the concept of a common-law relationship is commonly referred to as a “live-in relationship”. In the simplest terms, a “common-law relationship” is a relationship between two individuals that is legally equivalent to a marriage for a specified period of time. This type of relationship can be practised by heterosexual couples or by same-sex couples. Individuals who do not wish to incur the financial and emotional burden of divorce, or those who are dissatisfied with conventional standards, may opt to terminate their live-in relationship. Furthermore, unlike marriage, which can be terminated through divorce, a live-in partner may terminate their relationship under the terms of the law.

USA-While cohabitation wasn’t legal in the US until 1970, it became a common law in the US subject to certain conditions. The US was the birthplace of many consensual sex laws, which led to cohabitation agreements and their cousins, or prenups. The U.S. later made cohabitation legal by giving cohabitors basically the same rights and responsibilities as married couples (similar to Sweden or Denmark). Cohabitors aren’t considered legal parents.

UNITED KINGDOM-The Civil Partnership Act 2004 largely applies to live-in relationships, where a man and woman are living together in a secure sexual relationship. However, the expression “common law spouses” is not entirely correct in the law of England and Wales, as the UK believes that live-in relationships owe more than that to warrant the term. According to a 2010 note from the Home Affairs Section, unmarried couples do not have any legal entitlement to each other’s property in the event of a breakdown of relationship. In the event of a cohabiting relationship, the courts do not have the authority to override the strict law of property ownership and divide it, as they may do in the event of divorce.

INDIA- India has now started opening gates for Western ideas there’s growing acceptance of cohabitation as women started joining the pool their profitable independence led to a shift from marriage to cohabitation numerous prioritize their happiness, and freedom also fulfilling societal prospects there have been increased mindfulness of cohabitation. The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 Section 2(f)[1]. This act defines a relationship “domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption, or are family members living together as a joint family. Section 2 (a)[2] further defines the protection of women under this act “aggrieved person” means 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; section 2 (q)[3] “respondent” means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act: Provided that an aggrieved wife or female living in a relationship in the nature of a marriage may also file a complaint against a relative of the husband or the male partner.

In India, there’s no one-size-fits-all law that covers all the ins and outs of a cohabiting relationship. There’s no set of rules that define what rights and responsibilities cohabitants have or how disputes between them should be handled. The Indian justice system has worked hard over the years to address some of these issues, but since there’s no law in place, the courts have been following a patchwork approach. This has also led to judges’ personal biases getting in the way, which has caused legal issues, as discussed in some landmark judgments.


The number of people living together in a live-in relationship has been steadily increasing, particularly in urban areas. Live-in relationships have become increasingly accepted as a viable alternative to marriage. However, there are still pockets of conservatism and traditional beliefs that can stigmatize these relationships. Economic factors, the cost of living, and evolving social norms all play a role in the prevalence of these relationships. In some countries, discussions and legislative changes have been conducted to better delineate the rights and responsibilities of those living together in a relationship, particularly regarding matters such as property rights, inheritances, and custody of children. Family and cultural factors can also have a significant impact on the perception of these relationships, and in some societies, family values and expectations may be a barrier to living in a relationship.


Over the course of the period, there has been some development in the legal framework too like in the landmark case of S. Khushboo vs. Kanniammal & Anr[4] in this live-in relationship was identified and it was held that these are not illegal or immoral since these are happening with the consent of two adults identifies the delicate balance between individual right and social values diversify in a diverse country. it was also said that it comes under Article 21 of the constitution of India There have been certain acts that protect women from harassment in this kind of setup. In another case of Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V.Sarma[5], it was held that such a relationship can last for many years and can lead to a cycle of dependency and vulnerability. As the number of such relationships increases, so too does the need for proper and effective protection, particularly for the woman and the children born out of this live-in relationship. Of course, the legislature cannot encourage pre-marital intercourse, but, at times, these relationships are intensely personal and people can argue for and against it. They said, “It is not a crime simply unacceptable in this country.”

In the case D.Velusamy vs. D.Patchaiammal[6]it was held that “In their opinion not all live-in relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of the Act of 2005. To get such benefit the conditions mentioned by us above must be satisfied, and this has to be proved by evidence”

In Payal Sharma v. Nari Niketan[7] the Supreme Court held that a person may cohabit with another person as long as they are willing to do so, even if they do not marry. The Court drew a distinction between the law and morality in the context of this case, stating that even if a person’s cohabitation with another person is considered immoral by the society, it does not constitute an unlawful act or a criminal offence. It further stated that two individuals who cohabit and remain in a live in relationship are not considered to be criminal offenders. The Court further clarified that, although it is socially unacceptable in certain areas of India, a live in relationship does not constitute a crime or a sin.


Marriage is an alliance that involves families living in a relationship somewhere that lacks commitment because sometimes it is not a well-thought-out decision. In some research, marriages are shown to better the mental and physical health of a couple than a live-in relationship. Marriages are lawful and socially approved whereas in relationships people are just living together social acceptance for a live-in couple is very important there are no commitments from your partner Live-in relationships in India are often considered taboo it is not considered proper way of staying together. Often people think that in marriage people live together for longer periods than in live-in. Recently Bollywood has started showcasing live-in relationships in the latest movie” Luka Chuppi”[8] It is a classic example that portrays how young generations face problems while living together and it leads to a lot of confusion in their family. Marriage has long been a fundamental part of societies around the world and is expected to remain so in the future. It encompasses both legal and religious activities and is generally accepted by society. Generally, couples are composed of a man and a woman, although same-sex marriages are also accepted in some cultures. Marriage is often associated with sexual complementarity and permanence and comes with the associated status of marriage, as well as certain rights, advantages, and obligations. Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, making it difficult to recommend one over the other.

A segment of the youth may disagree with the views of the conservative side of society. They believe that live-in relationships provide them with a sense of autonomy and a conjugal life that does not have the limitations of marriage. A live-in relationship allows the individual to move out or remain in the relationship whenever they feel that it is not working out. However, marriage can be a difficult and lengthy process to dissolve or seek a divorce due to the fact that it is intended to last for a lifetime. Furthermore, the legality of a marriage also complicates the process.


It is important to note that if one or both partners are already married and claim to be in a live-in relationship then such a relationship would be considered as ‘adultery’ and not a live-in relationship. A live-in relationship is only allowed for those who are an unmarried couple only then the person is guilty and has committed an offense under section 497 of IPC.

Maintenance of women

 To provide certain rights and protection to individuals in such relationships, many countries, including India, have developed laws on maintenance support in the context of live-in relationships. 

The Supreme Court in its judgment in Abhijit Bhikaseth auti v. State of Maharashtra[9] and others observed that in Sec. 125[10], a woman does not need to have strictly established the marriage to claim maintenance. A woman who is in the relationship can also claim maintenance in Sec. 125[11] Cr. P.C

In October 2008, the Maharashtra Government approved a proposal that a woman who has been in such a relationship for a ‘reasonable period should be recognized as a wife the Malimath Committee had also proposed to amend the word ‘wife’ under CrPC to include a ‘woman living with him like his wife’ which means that the woman will also get alimony.

Rights of children born in live-in relationships

 Depending on the laws and regulations of the country or jurisdiction in which they are born, the rights of children who were born to their parents during a live-in relationship may differ. According to Hindu law, there is a compulsion for a Hindu parent to maintain a child but for a Muslim parent, there is a compulsion.

sec 21 of the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act states that (iv) “his or her son or the son of his predeceased son or the son of a predeceased son of his predeceased son, so long as he is a minor; provided and to the extent that he is unable to obtain maintenance, in the case of a grandson from his father’s or mother’s estate, and in the case of a great grand-son, from the estate of his father or mother or father’s father or father’s mother” (v)”his or her unmarried daughter, or the unmarried daughter of his predeceased son or the unmarried daughter of a predeceased son of his predeceased son, so long as she remains unmarried: provided and to the extent that she is unable to obtain maintenance, in the case of a grand-daughter from her father’s or mother’s estate and the case of a great-grand-daughter from the estate of her father or mother or father’s father or father’s mother” sec 125 of CrPC provides the legal right to children even after he is not considered legitimate child. Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955[12] states that Legitimacy of children of void and voidable marriages. (1) Notwithstanding that a marriage is null and void under section 11, any child of such marriage who would have been legitimate if the marriage had been valid, shall be legitimate, whether such child is born before or after the commencement of the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Act, 1976 (68 of 1976), and whether or not a decree of nullity is granted in respect of that marriage under this Act and whether or not the marriage is held to be void otherwise than on a petition under this Act.

 The same inheritance rights as those enjoyed by the offspring of a legal marriage shall be granted to children who are born in an existing relationship. But such rights do not extend to the extent of coparcenary rights in a Hindu undivided family, and they only concern their parents’ property. A child born in an invalid or invalid marriage does not have the right to inherit the ancestral property. However, such a child can claim a share of the inherited property if he or she has acquired property of his or her own.

In the landmark judgment of, Bharatha Matha & Anr v. Vijaya Renganathan 

& Ors[13], The Supreme Court of India has ruled that a child born from a marriage that has lapsed is not eligible to inherit the ancestral property, however, such a child may be entitled to claim a portion of any acquired property. In the case of Revanasiddappa & Anr vs Mallikarjun & Ors[14] Supreme Court affirmed the constitutional right to property of the illegitimate child, as well as the right to inherit the property of the children born from a domestic relationship.


the concept of live-in relationships has gained notable importance all around the world.it is a dynamic and evolving concept. where it has gained prominence and importance in the West but in India it is still evolving and needs to be widely accepted. In the era of globalisation, couples are not ready to take responsibility and do want expectations like marriage which allows them to test the capabilities of each other.

Our judiciary is taking progressive steps and recognition in many jurisdictions offers protection to the couple. however, still challenges exist in the society social, cultural, and legal. In India, there are no specific laws for live-in relationships.

marriage and live-in relationships are free choices no one should be pressured to choose one if one chooses live-in we should not discourage their decision 

it should be based on preferences and values and we should respect them as society evolves we expect that it will normalize and be diverse. We should respect one’s rights and choice.


  1. https://legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-9388-live-in-relationship-an-indian-perspective.html
  2. https://www.bonobology.com/what-are-the-advantages-of-a-live-in-relationship/
  3. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/146609/
  4. https://legalformatsindia.com/is-live-in-relationship-still-against-indian-culture/
  5. https://blog.ipleaders.in/landmark-supreme-court-judgments-concerning-legal-standing-live-relationships/
  6. https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/live-in-relationship-and-protection-of-women-from-domestic-violence-act-2005-7565.asp

[1] PWDVA§ SEC 2 2005

[2] PWDVA§ SEC 2 2005

[3] PWDVA§ SEC 2 2005

[4] (2010) 5SCC 600

[5]  AIR 2014 SC 309

[6] (2010) 10 SCC 469 ¶ 20

[7] AIR 2001 All 254.


[9] 16 September, 2008

[10] CRPC§ SEC 125 1974

[11] CRPC§ SEC 125 1974


[13] AIR 2010 SC 2685, 2010 (5) ALT 4 (SC), 2010 (6) SCALE 53

[14] 31 March, 2011


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