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Live in Relationships and its benefits for Women

10 Nov 2020 12:00 AM

Not having sexual inter course and when and then with a person who was other than a spouse is not amount to live in relationship. It is a relationship which a men and women live as a husband and wife without any matrimonial tie up.

 

Introduction

Live-in relation i.e. cohabitation is an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married.

Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among people in the Western world. People may live together for a number of reasons. These may include wanting to test the compatibility or to establish financial security before marrying. It may also be because they are unable to legally marry, for instance, if they are of the same sex, some interracial or inter-religious marriages are not legal or permitted. Other reasons include living with someone before marriage in an effort to avoid divorce, a way for polygamists or polyamorists to avoid breaking the law, a way to avoid the higher income taxes paid by some two-income married couples (in the United States), negative effects on pension payments (among older people), philosophical opposition to the institution of marriage and seeing little difference between the commitment to live together and the commitment to marriage. Some individuals may also choose cohabitation because they see their relationships as being private and personal matters, and not to be controlled by political, religious or patriarchal institutions.

Indeed the only thing constant in this world is change. The lifestyle of Indian society at large has drastically changed in the past couple of years. People are slowly but surely accepting the notion of pre-marital conjugal and live-in relationships. Nonetheless, this altered mindset arguably lacks legal validation and the society does not readily accept it either. In other words, the subject matter is under criticism and a hot topic of discussion.

In live-in relationships unlike marriage, a man and a woman remain unmarried but live with each other under one roof that may appear to be a married relationship sans the vow of holy matrimony. In other words, the relationship is more like cohabitation. In the Indian context, however, with the exception of marriage occurring between a man and a woman, all other exotic relationships are deemed illegitimate.

People opting for live-in relationships do so to find out whether they are made for or how compatible they are for each other prior to eventually tying the knot. Owing to live-in relationships partners can avert chaotic family disputes and protracted judicial procedures should the couple split at some point in time.

 Whatever may be the reason, it is exemplified in the conservative society of India where the sanctity of marriage is not to be sacrificed at any cost even in this backdrop couples increasingly are opting for live-in relationships purportedly unto perpetuity rather than marriage. In similar situations, innumerable legal and social issues have cropped up that are debatable topics.

Over time there have been reportages of incidents where live-in relationships resulting in the birth of a child have led to vulnerability of the very live-in relationship and therefore it's not within the purview of the law. Partners have flagrantly misused the virtues of the relationship as non-performance of duties and responsibilities are acceptable.

A man and a woman not married, but having a live-in relationship is enough for the woman who is entitled to maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act. But merely living a live-in relationship is not entitled to get maintenance. The woman has to show that though there was no marriage but the relationship was in the nature of marriage. Having sexual relations with a woman frequently is not a live-in relationship. It is a nature of living as a husband and wife without undergoing a marriage. "Relationship in the nature of marriage" must fulfill the following ingredients:-

 

1. They mustbe of legal age to marry.

2. The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses.

3. They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time.

4. They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.

5. If a man has a 'keep' whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not, be a relationship in the nature of marriage.

6. The parties must have lived together in a 'shared household' as defined in Section 2(s) of the Act - Merely spending weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a 'domestic relationship'.

A legally wedded wife or divorced wife can claim maintenance from husband under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code. A woman who was in a live-in relationship with a man but not legally wedded is not entitled to claim maintenance under Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

However, if such a woman proves that she was in a domestic relationship with the man in this nature marriage would be entitled to claim maintenance under Section 20(3) of Protection of Domestic Violence At, 2005.

The Supreme Court of India has also confirmed this proposition in the Velusamy Vs Patchaiammal case. This is a progressive judgment and a great boon to the suppressed women


Law in India regarding Live-in Relationship

There isn’t any specific law in regards to live-in relationships in India. In other words, the relationship hasn’t had any legal validation, recognition or cognizance and therefore not enacted to law laying down the entitlement and obligations of parties as well as their children. A live-in relationship cannot be legally defined and therefore the legal status of connections of that sort is similarly unverified.

There aren’t any provisions in the Indian law granting entitlements or obligations to the parties living together. However, the concept of a live-in relationship has been clarified by the court through varied judgments. While the law is yet to clarify the status of the live-in relationships, the entitlements have been granted through interpretation and amendment of the current legislation so that live-in relationships aren’t misused.


Domestic Violence Act, 2005

Unprecedented as it may be in Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (Pwdva), live-in relationships have been acknowledged by the legislature by endowing entitlement and protection to legally unmarried female akin to wife, in a live-in relationship with a male partner akin to a husband, and the entire relationship resembling marriage, but not marriage in essence.

While there isn’t any categorical definition of a live-in relationship in the Act nonetheless the courts have the discretion of interpreting it on a case-to-case basis. Hence, the court’s interpretation of the relationship based on the provision is “relationship in the nature of marriage”.

PWDA’s provisions are currently applicable to individuals in live-in relationships. Presumably, live-in relationships and nature of marriage are an oxymoron in the sense that live-in-relationships, as alluded to earlier, have had neither the formal recognition nor the legal validation of a marriage and therefore not a marriage at all. Therefore inferences of ‘nature of marriage’ with live-in relationships are obviously inappropriate and not under the purview of a legal marriage. Women, therefore, have a few basic rights of protecting themselves from being abused owing to fraudulent marriages or bigamous relationships.


Conclusion And Suggestions

Live-in relationships are now very popular in India. The law does not prescribe how we should live; it is ethics and social norms which explain the essence of living in welfare model. The Court itself notices that what law sees as no crime may still be immoral. It has said in a judgement of 2006, notices by the Court now, that two consenting adults engaging in sex is not an offence in law “even though it may be perceived as immoral.”[5] Of course, such protective sanctions may potentially lead to complications that could otherwise be avoided. But simply raising the hammer may not be the best route to taming the bold and the brave. Awareness has to be created in these young minds not just from the point of the emotional and societal pressures that such a relationship may create, but also the fact that it could give rise to various legal hassles on issues like division of property, violence, cases of desertion by death of a partner and handling of custody and other issues when it comes to children resulting from such relationships.

While the Supreme Court’s opinion might not have the undesirable effect on more and more couples preferring live-in relationships rather that opting to wed, it could certainly embolden more young men and women as they would now be convinced that there is no breach of law in the live-in relationship. One can only weigh the pros and cons and take into account the impact of their decision on their family and most importantly on themselves.

[1] S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal and Anr. 2010 (4) SCALE 462.

[2] Abhijit Bhikaseth Auti v.State Of Maharashtra and Others

[3] Payal Katara v. Superintendent Nari Niketan Kandri Vihar Agra and Others.

[4] Bharatha Matha & Anr. v. R.Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. 2010 STPL(Web) 406 SC.

[5] Lata Singh v. State of U.P. and Anr. AIR 2006 SC 2522.

This article is written by Mr. Parameshwar Bambulge, an Advocate and practising advocate having an experience of 11+ years in handling different legal matters. From his experience he wants to share this beneficial information for the individuals having any issues with respect to their related matters.


For more queries contact:

Mr. Parameshwar Bambulge

Advocate

Bidar-585401

parameshwarbambulge@gmail.com

Mob: +91 92422 21005

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