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Is Live-In Relationship Legal in India?

Are you thinking about getting into a live in relationship? Well, you need to first understand the legal aspects involved in co-living relationships in India. Many believe that live-in relationships are nothing but short lived relationships and in the process if there is a child born out of live in relationship, then is a legitimate one? Read the blog ahead to know the various effects of live in relationship.
Written by:
Antim Amlan
Published on

A live-in relationship is one such concept that has entered into India in the millennial age. Thus, it's quite important for you to know how does this live-in relationship agreement in India work?

It's not indifferent that people belonging to the previous generations usually question what is a live-in relationship. The main reason for this is because in earlier days no one would hear about such concepts, unlike today.

So be it any of the major metropolitan cities in India like Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Kolkata or Chennai. Or any other small modern city like Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad for that matter, live-in relationship is becoming popular.

More and more couples are feeling safe and confident in entering into such a relationship.

The live-in relationship meaning has completely been revolutionised by the modern generation.

In this blog, we are going to be focusing on the status of live-in relationship in India including the live-in relationship law in India that is followed. 

Before getting into the details of what a live-in relationship or a co-living relationship is all about one needs to know about its origin/history of how it came about.

However, if you still need to ask legal advice regarding the aspects and effects of live-in relationship, then book online lawyer consultations with MyAdvo and you can stay en garde!


Table of Contents:

  1. The History Surrounding the Live-In Relationship
  2. The Status and Laws Surrounding Live in Relationship in India
  3. Live in Relationship Versus Marriage in India
  4. What Are the Pros of Live in Relationship & the Cons Surrounding It?
  5. Who to Ask for Help?

The History Surrounding the Live-In Relationship

To start off with the history of a live-in relationship is not an age-old concept as much as the western countries are concerned. On the contrary, the concept of live-in relationship is slowly catching up in the east as well.

One of the most common phrases to describe a live-in relationship is the fact, that it is better to be living together relationship rather than getting a divorce.

Even as of today people belonging from the older generation deem live in relationships as short-lived relationships or even a taboo, but that's not all.

To put it in legal terms a live-in relationship is a type of arrangement whereby the couples that are unmarried actually decide to cohabit/live together in order to conduct a form of long-term relationship which is similar in nature to that of marriage.

Now let us give the answer to your query - 'Is live in relationship legal in India?' and along with it, we'll discuss the legal implications surrounding it.


The Status and Laws Surrounding Live in Relationship in India

Well, the answer to this query is NO. To have a live-in relationship, law in India is still not clear on that. 

It is, however, pertinent to mention here that even though there is no live in relationship act per se. Therefore, there is a lot of obscurity about the live in relationship in India legal status.

Regarding the legal status of live in relationship in India, the Supreme Court has ruled that any of the couples who are cohabiting together for a very long period of time, they will be presumed as legally married unless proven otherwise.

As far as the modern generation is concerned, India has been witness to many drastic changes in terms of various perceptions. As far as this generation goes, the effects of live in relationship are viewed as much similar to any relationship in general.

Whether live in relationship is good or bad is totally dependent on the couple engaging in the same. The taboo which used to haunt couples entering into a live in relationship is slowly dissipating.

The Indian society or the society, in general, is becoming more open to the concept of pre-marital sex and live in relationship. This is leading to slowly lifting-off the taboo surrounding it.

live in relationship in india


There are various factors acting as a reason for this drastic change in the mindset, as far as Indians are concerned towards live in relationship such as:

  • Improved education

  • Globalisation

  • Freedom and

  • Privacy

Now before getting into the live in relationship rules, one can think upon the latest Supreme Court judgement on live in relationship in India. 

Therefore, it’s pertinent to mention here that if you proceed to have a live in relationship in India for married man or else to have a live in relationship with married woman is illegal. As this comes under Adultery

The live in relationship rules & regulations in regards to this matter is very stringent and strict. Live in relationship sex or cohabitation with any married party is completely illegal and criminal in nature.  The aggrieved party can file for a criminal case of adultery under section 497 of the Indian Penal Code. The aggrieved party may also file for divorce on the grounds of his/her partner having an illicit relationship.

The Supreme Court judgement on live in relationship in the case Indra Sarma vs. V.K.V. Sarma states that co-living relationship can be broken down into five distinct ways:

  • Firstly, according to the court, any domestic cohabitation between an adult male and an adult female who are unwed is the simplest form of relationship.

  • Second, comes the cohabitation between a married man who is an adult and an unwed adult woman or vice versa.

  • It is important to mention about live in relationship, that cohabitation is taking place with mutual consent.

  • The Supreme Court has made it very clear that any domestic relationship with a married individual will tantamount to adultery. So, even if the cohabitation happens unknowingly can act as a ground for divorce.

  • Lastly, the apex court also speaks about the domestic cohabitation which takes place between homosexual partners.

live in relationship law in india


However, as far as homosexuals are concerned the cohabitation cannot lead to any marital relationship. The reason for the same being that there is no such law which has yet defined gay marriage in India.

Speaking about the laws for live in relationship in India, first we need to know are live in relationships legal in India or not? 

The Supreme Court has also managed to pass some landmark judgments when it comes to discussing the legal rights of any child born out of live in relationship.

The Supreme Court on live in relationship has stated in many a case that any child born out of a live in relationship shall:

In the case of SPS Balasubramanyam Vs. Sruttayan, the SC stated that - "Any woman or man have been living under the same room and have also been cohabiting for a certain number of years, then it will be presumed that these parties have been living as husband and wife under Section 114 of the Evidence Act. The children that will be born to these couples are not illegitimate."

  • This is one of the landmark judgments as far as the Supreme Court is concerned. Also, the legitimacy of the child born out of a co-living relationship is concerned.

  • The apex court has managed to interpret the statute. This in concurrence with Article 39 (f) of the Constitution for the child.

In another landmark judgment was passed in the case of Tulsi vs D, where it was held by the Supreme Court that any child born out a co-living relationship will not be considered as illegitimate.

  • The only prerequisite being that the parents of the child must be living together under the same roof. That too for a given number of years such that the society can deem them to be ‘husband’ and ‘wife’.

It is important to mention out here that since such landmark judgments the live in relationship in India statistics has shown significant growth.

As far as it comes to how to break up a long term relationship living together or how to leave a relationship when living together, the apex court has not set up any specific rules or regulations.

It is absolutely up to the parties if they decide not to cohabit together. The effect of live in relationship is totally based upon the mindset of the parties entering into one.

The live in relationship act in India even though allowed by the apex court has no such clear laws defining the same.

Now that we have an idea about the law regarding live in relationship in India, we should also know of some of the other live in relationship legal rights.

  • The Supreme Court in many cases has deemed a couple living together for a certain period of time has similar legal rights as that of a married couple.

  • The Court has also allowed for the right to maintenance under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005. Especially for the women and children who are a part of a live-in relationship.  

  • The Court has further stated that a live-in relationship is going to fall within the said expression - ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’. This expression falls under Section 2 (f) of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Now, let us take a look into the difference between live in relationship and marriage.

Live in Relationship Versus Marriage in India

Some of the major differences when it comes to discussing live in relationship vs marriage include:

  • Family Support: This is one major point of difference between the two. When it comes to marriage, the belief is that a marriage takes place between two families. However, when it comes to a live-in relationship, it is only between two people. Family support in case of marriage is definitely present which is mostly lacking in a live in relationship. Especially in India families still, scorn upon living relationships.

  • Children: Marriage is known to have social and legal benefits for children. Even though the child born out of a live in relationship is legitimate, however, the father in this scenario does not hold an obligation to support the child. Here, the mother is mostly considered to be the legal guardian.

  • Commitment: There are various studies and articles on live in relationship that show that people staying in a co-living relationship have commitment issues later on as compared to married couples. Psychologists believe that people who usually have commitment issues enter into a co-living relationship.

  • Health: There are various researches which suggest that people who are married have better mental and physical health in comparison to unmarried couples which also includes live-in partners. There have been reports where married couples show lower rates of chronic diseases in comparison to live in partners.

What Are the Pros of Live in Relationship & the Cons Surrounding It?

The pros of co-living relationship include:

  • Lesser responsibilities: One of the major positives of being in a live in relationship is the fact that there are fewer responsibilities. There is no social or legal bond when it comes to living together. Marriage does involve a lot of compromises which can be avoided in this scenario.

  • Low legal Issues: There are lower legal issues when it comes to a living relationship. Divorce is one of the ugliest legal issues when it comes to marriage. As far as live in is concerned such legal hassles can be avoided. A couple can simply move on rather than being in a suffocating relationship.

  • Financial Freedom: Another excellent advantage of a live in relationship is the aspect of financial freedom. One can easily divide expenses when it comes to a live-in relation. This concept is rather difficult when it comes to marriage.

The cons of co-living relationship include:

  • Social Censure: One of the major cons of being in a live-in relationship is the fact that society scorns upon the whole concept. Live in relationships as of yet have still not been accepted in most parts of the society, especially in India.

  • Lack of Commitment: It can be stated that one of the biggest advantages of a live-in relationship is also one of its largest disadvantages. There is a lack of commitment when it comes to the co-living relationship. This is why most of them are so short lived. The likelihood of one getting out of a live-in relationship is as quick as one entering into one.

These are some of the major live in relationship advantage and disadvantage associated with it.

live in relationship with married woman


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