If you just Google Live-in Relationships in India, you will find hundreds of articles on how many difficulties a couple usually faces in finding a house, society’s outlook to their relationship and so on and so forth. But being a lawyer, I will straight away address the legalities involved in such relationships.
The first and foremost question that arises, is that, are Live-in Relationships valid in India? The answer is a definite YES. The Supreme Court has time and again acknowledged the existence of such relationships and held that being in a Live-in Relationship is not a Criminal Offence. And to get a little too legal, this also falls under a person’s Right to Life and Personal Liberty as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution under Article 21 to each one of us as Indians.
Undoubtedly, the number of live-in relationships are increasing every passing year and slowly but surely the social acceptance towards such relationships is also on the rise. Hence, it becomes essential that we have proper legal provisions in place to be utilized in times of need. Sadly we do not have any single specific Act containing the legal provisions that govern such relationships.
In a country obsessed with marriage, even today, the laws that protect the interests of a woman living in a live-in relationship are mostly the same as that of a married woman. And if we talk of protection of the interests of the man in a live-in scenario the situation could be far worse.
The scope of the Code of Criminal Procedure Code and the Domestic Violence Act have been widened so as to protect the interests of the women who have entered into a live-in. Therefore, any woman who has entered into such a relationship can be entitled the Right of Maintenance and is also assured safety and security under the domestic Violence Act.
Further, the legal provisions pertaining to Adoption do not permit couples who are in a Live-in to legally adopt a child. However, a child born to a couple who are in a live-in relationship is entitled to the same inheritance rights as that of a child born of out of a wedlock.
Therefore, though such relationships are legally recognized, there still exists very little legal protection for them, it is essential that couples who are thinking of entering into a Live-in Relationship or are already in one decide upon making a Live-in Agreement which shall help them in protecting the interests of both during as well as after the subsistence of such relationship.