Magazine 2012
Emerging Concept of Live-In-Relation  
International and National Scenario  
Ms. Prerna S. Ramteke  
Maniben Nanavati Womenb s College,Mumbai.  
The Institution of Marriage in India is considered a very important and sacred one where the parents and elders  
in the family arrange or plan their childrenb s wedding by taking into account factors like age, height, personal  
values, tastes, background of their families, caste and also sometimes astrological compatibility of the couple.  
Although most marriages are arranged. Some couples do opt for love marriages in urban areas (the number  
may be miniscule in rural areas). Among the overseas Indiab s many marriages are still arranged with the assistance  
of the parents and relatives. The so called love marriages also happen (in India), with the approval of parents,  
although some of them reluctantly bless their children or are not very happy with it. Indians believe that marriages  
are for life & divorces are very disgraceful for the family. So the rate of divorce in India is very low compared to  
western countries.  
The joy of a happy marriage blessed with loving, respectful children who easily transition from childhood  
in to responsible adults is a dream of most men & women found in almost every nation & culture, this desire  
seems to be hard wired into our minds & genetic makeup. Traditionally, marriage has been an exclusive bond  
between a man & woman which includes most intimate of acts, the sexual union. Yet in recent years this pattern  
has been changing. Some are choosing to have live in relationships, children out of wedlock & also homosexual  
Social scientists typically view people as choosing marriage partners in a marriage market armed with  
resources that is social & personal characteristics & bargain for the best deal that they can get. Although things  
are certainly changing with the trend towards androgyny, some aspects like man providing financial support in  
exchange for the womenb s child bearing and child rearing capabilities, domestic services and sexual availability  
remain same.  
To be legally married in the US, we must meet specific requirements, such as minimum age, which may  
differ from one state to another. US marriages are legally defined as either ceremonial or non-ceremonial. A  
ceremonial marriage is one in which couple must follow procedures specified by the state or other jurisdiction  
such as buying a license, getting blood tests and being married by an authorized official.  
Some states also recognize common law marriage, a non ceremonial relationship that people establish.  
Generally there are 3 requirements for a common law marriage.  
) Living together for a significant period of time (not defined in any state)  
2) Presenting oneself as part of a married couple (typically using the same last name referring to the other as my  
husband or my wide & filing a joint tax return) and  
) Intending to marry.  
Common law marriages are legal in 9 states & the District of Columbia. Another seven states recognize  
common law marriage only under certain conditions, such as those formed before a certain date (National  
Conference of State Legislatures, 2009)  
In both types of marriages, the parties must meet minimum age requirements and they cannot engage in  
bigamy, i.e. marrying a second person while a first marriage is still legal.  
Myths about the Perfect Marriage, Perfect Family  
Heres how one woman described the clash between marital expectation and reality.  
Marriage is not what I had assumed it would be. One premarital assumption after another has crashed down on  
my headb &b &b &b &.. Marriage is like taking an airplane to Florida for a relaxing vacation in January and when  
you get off the plane you find you are in the Swiss Alps. There is cold and snow instead of swimming and  
sunshine. Well, after you buy winter clothes you learn how to ski & learn how to talk a new foreign language, I  
guess you can have just as good a vacation in the Swiss Alps as you can in Florida. But I can tell you, b &b &b &its  
one hell of a surprise when you get off that marital airplane and find that everything is far different from what one  
had assumed. (Lederer and Jackson, 1968: 39)  
This (marriage) observation even though made in 1968, it still valid and relevant today. Even if partners  
live together & believe that they know each other well, many may find themselves in the Swiss Alps instead of  
Florida after tying the knot.  
Data is US suggests that 82 % of girls and 71 % of boys feel that having a good marriage and family life  
is b extremely important to themb  (Armstrong, 2004) and in 2008, 88 % of Americans said that they were happy  
or b reasonably contentb  in their marriages (Popenoe & Whitehead, 2009).  
Even though marriage is so important today we find that some people opt for live in relationship due to  
the fear or lack of commitment, avoiding responsibilities, lack of tolerance and disrespect of social bonds.  
Cohabitation or Live-in Relationships:  
Cohabitation is a living arrangement in which two unrelated people are not married but live together and are in  
a sexual relationship.  
The US Census Bureau sometimes call cohabitants POSSLQb S (pronounced as b Possel-Kewsb ) i.e. b Persons  
of the opposite sex sharing living quartersb , such unmarried couples also include same sex-relationship as well.  
To the delight of some people and dismay of others, cohabitation is not a passing fad because it is  
based on emotional rather than legal ties and itb s a distinct family form where the couple is neither married or  
are single. The cohabitation rates have risen but the official figures are too low due to reluctance of the couple  
to disclose that they are living together. They may describe themselves as room-mates or friends and finally  
they are not ready or prepared for the attitude of people around them (social scrutiny).  
India is still looked upon by the world, where marriage occupies a sacramental position both philosophically  
and practically when we apply living relationship to an average class of people, we find its less prevalent as this  
class is scrutinized more in the society whereas the high income group & low income group are in a better  
position to accept newer kinds of relationship. A girl from a poor family who is in need of a Shelter may not  
hesitate to live with a man with higher financial status without marring him. Saakshi O. Juneja says b many  
people imagine that living together before marriage resembles taking a car for test driveb .  
Live-in relationships are not new in our society. The only difference is how people have become open  
about it. Formally they are known as b Maitray Kararsb  in which people of two opposite sex would enter into a  
written agreement to be friends, live together and look after each other. A change is visible in our society from  
arranged marriages to love marriages and now live-in relationship. If an analysis is to be made of such relationship  
avoiding responsibility, emerges to be the prime reason along with lack of commitment, disregard of social  
bonds, lack of tolerance in relationship etc.  
Types of Cohabitation  
The most common types of Cohabitation are:  
Dating Cohabitation  
Premarital Cohabitation  
Trial Marriage  
Substitute for legal marriage  
Dating Cohabitation occurs when a couple spend a great deal of time together eventually decide to move in  
together for convenience, finances, companionship and sexual accessibility. Such couples are unsure of the  
quality of their relationship and there is no long term commitment. (Manning and Smock, 2005)  
Trial Marriage is a type of living together similar to Premarital Cohabitation where the partners want to see what  
marriage might be like and its attractive to partners who are doubtful about issues like ethnicity religion,  
finances, personalities etc.  
Substitute Marriage is a long term commitment between two people who donb t plan to marry. For many its an  
alternative to marriage. For example one or both partners may be separated but still legally married to someone  
else or may be divorced & reluctant to remarry, someone may be very insecure & prefers any kind of relationship  
to being alone.  
Thus live-in relationship or cohabitation is more complex than these 4 classifications suggest especially when  
children are involved. Cohabitation can include two biological parents, one biological partner or an adoptive  
partner. In addition one or both partners may be never married, divorced or remarried, these variations create  
very different relationship dynamics, a topic of research for many social scientists.  
Some Benefit of Cohabitation :  
Couple have emotional security of an intimate relationship and can also maintain their independence by  
having their own friends & family members alone (Mc Rae, 1999)  
Partners can dissolve the relationship without legal problems, and they can leave an abusive relationship  
more easily. (De Maris, 2001)  
Couples who postpone marriage have a lower likelihood of divorce because being older is one of the  
best predictors of a stable marriage.  
Cohabitants do not have to deal with in laws. (Silverman, 2003)  
Cohabitation helps people to find out how much they really care about each other when unpleasant  
realities like payments of bills, hygienic issues come up.  
Costs of Cohabitation  
Some of the costs of Cohabitation include:  
b "
b "
Loss of Identity or a feeling of being tapped, especially when friends are involved.  
Women in cohabiting relationships end up doing more household tasks than many married women do.  
in case of cohabiting man not committed to the relationship). (Coley, 2002; Ciabattari, 2004)  
b "
b "
b "
b "
b "
Compared to married couple, cohabitants have a weaker commitment to their relationship, low level of  
happiness, satisfaction and are more likely to be in faithful. (Treas and Giesen, 2000; Waite, 2000)  
Spouses who cohabit demonstrate more negative behaviour after marriage than spouses who donb tb   
cohabit (Cohan & Klanbaum, 2002)  
A few social scientists in the US are adamantly opposed to the practice of living together. According to  
Popenoe & Whitehead (2002), for example  
You should not live together at all before marriage as there is no evidence that cohabitation leads to  
better or stronger marriage.  
Donb t make a habit of cohabitating because multiple experiences of living together decrease the chance  
of marriage and establishing lifelong partnership.  
b "
b "
Limit cohabitation to the shortest possible period of time.  
Donb t consider cohabitation if children are involved as children need parents over the long term. Moreover,  
children are likely to be abused by cohabitants than by biological parents. On the other hand, people  
who live together give rational reasoning for doing so as (Olson and Olson b  Sigg, 2002; Solot and Miller,  
2002, Sassler, 2004)  
b "
b "
b "
b "
b "
b "
Economic Advantages - b We can save money by sharing living expensesb .  
Companionship b  b We are able to spend more time togetherb .  
Increased Intimacy b  b We can share sexual & emotional intimacy without getting marriedb .  
Easy Breakups b  b If the relationship doesnb t work out there is no messy divorceb .  
Compatibility b  b Living together is a good way to find out about each other habit & characterb .  
Trial Marriage b  b Were living together because we well be getting married soonb .  
Legal provision with regards to live-in relationships outside India:  
The law introduced in 1999 in France makes provisions for b Civil Solidarity Pactsb , allowing couples to  
enter a union and be entitled to the same rights as married couples in areas like Income tax, inheritance,  
housing & social welfare. Couples who want to enter into such relationship may sign up before a court clerk and  
can revoke the contract unilaterally or bilaterally with a simple declaration, made in writing, which gives the  
partner three months notice.  
Article 147, of Family Code, in Philippines provides that when a man and woman are capacitated to  
marry each other, live exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage or under  
a void marriage, their wages and salaries shall be owned by them in equal shares and the property acquired by  
both of them through their work or industry shall be governed by the rules of co-ownership.  
In USA many attorneyb s recommend that cohabitants draw up a contract similar to a premarital document.  
According to many Legal experts, cohabitants best protection in financial matters is to maintain separate  
ownership of possessions, they should not have joint bank account, or credit cards, cars should not be  
registered in womanb s name (as men are charged high premium in US). Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, Michigan,  
North Dakota, Mississipi and North Carolina is one of the seven states that have laws prohibiting cohabitation.  
Health Insurance plans that cover a spouse rarely include an unmarried partner and her or his children  
and if a partner dies and leaves no will, relatives no matter how distant can claim all of his or her possessions.  
If a couple has children both partners must acknowledge biological parenthood in writing to protect the childs  
future claims to financial support and inheritance (Mahoney, 2002)  
In India, no law at present deals with the concept of live-in relationships & their legality. It is praise worthy  
that under The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, all benefits are bestowed on Women  
living in such kind of arrangement by reason of being covered within the term b domestic relationshipb  under  
section 2 (f). If we propose to enact a law to regulate live-in relationships, it would grant rights to parties but at  
the same time impose obligations on them.  
The figure indicates cohabiting couples in the US, 1960-2008  
The table indicates that in 2008, number of cohabitant couples in US were 6.8 million. However due to  
societal pressures and the culture the figure in India is not available.  
Even though cohabitation or live-in relationship exist in India and abroad (especially Western World) it  
remains a sensitive issue to be debated. The cohabitation rates have risen over the years but the available  
figures are too low as the Censers Bureaus do not tabulate them as couples in a home.  
Legal Provision with regards to the Live-in relationships in India:  
Courts and grant of validity to the live-in-relationships:  
In a petition between Payal Katara and Superintendent of Nari Niketan, Agra, the Allahabad High Court on 4th  
March 2002 came up with a bold judgment by stating that anyone, man or woman, could live together even  
without getting married if they wished. A similar step was taken by the Apex Court on 15th January, 2008 when  
a Bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam leaned in favour of legitimising a live-in couple as  
they had lived together for 30 years.  
Debate in the Lok Sabha:  
On 15th December, 2008 in the question hour, Mr. H. R. Bhardwaj, Honb ble Union Law Minister while answering  
to the question related to live-in-relationships said that if live-in- relationships are acceptable by society, then  
the government can make laws. Laws are made keeping in view societal trends. It is hypothetical to ask a  
question whether we are contemplating a law to govern live-in relationships. Less than one percent of the  
people are in such relationships. If a law is enacted, it will only be misused.  
Live in-relationship no guarantee to alimony:  
The Supreme Court Thursday said that not all live-in arrangements amount to a b relationship in the nature of  
marriageb  to entitle women to maintenance under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.  
Merely spending weekends together or one night stand would not make it a domestic relationship,b  the court  
Though the act talks about the b relationship in the nature of marriageb , b unfortunately this expression has not  
been defined in the actb , said the apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice T.S. Thakur in their  
Speaking for the bench, Justice Katju said that for the purposes of claiming benefits under the domestic  
violence law, the claimant must satisfy four requirements.  
These include that the couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouse; they must be of  
legal age to marry; they must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage and must be unmarried, and  
they must have voluntarily cohabited for a significant period of time.  
The fulfilment of these four conditions has to be backed by evidence, the court said.  
The judgment said: b In our opinion, a relationship in the nature of marriage under the Protection of Women from  
Domestic Violence Act, 2005 must also fulfill the above requirements, and in addition the parties must have  
lived together in a shared household as defined in section 2(s) of the act.b   
The judgment said: b If a man has a keep whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/  
or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage.b   
The judgment said that in feudal society, sexual relationship between man and woman outside the marriage  
was totally taboo and was regarded with disgust and horror.  
However, the Indian society was changing. Though the new social phenomenon of live-in relationship was still  
rare in the country, sometimes it was found in big cities, the judgment said.  
The judges said it seemed that while approving the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005,  
parliament had taken note of this new social phenomenon of live-in relationship.  
The court said this while setting aside a Madras High Court verdict by which it had recognized the second  
woman in the life of D. Velusamy as his wife and awarded her maintenance of Rs.500 per month.  
The court held that both the trial court and the high court decided in favour of Velusamys b second wifeb , D.  
Patchalammal, without issuing notice to Valusamys first wife Lakshmi and affording her a hearing.  
Velusamy b  senior grade teacher in Coimbatore b  married Lakshmi June 25, 1980. From his first wife he has a  
son who is studying engineering at Ooty.  
Subsequently, Velusamy married Patchalammal on Sep 14, 1986. After staying together for two-three years at  
the house of Patchalammals father, Velusamy deserted her.  
That means that Velusamy deserted Patchalammal either in 1988 or 1989. In 2001, Patchalammal moved the  
family court seeking maintenance, the court noted.  
The apex court said that it was incumbent upon Patchalammal to b satisfactorilyb  explain the delay of 12 years  
before she moved the court for maintenance.  
Setting aside the high court and the family court verdict, the apex court remanded the matter back to the family  
court to hear the matter afresh after issuing notice to Lakshmi.  
The judgment assailed the family court for drawing the conclusion that Valusamy was not married to Lakshmi  
without giving her an opportunity to present her side of the case.  
The judgment also noted that the family court also did not give any finding whether Valusamy and Patchalammal  
had lived reasonably long in a relationship which was in the nature of marriage.  
The judgment said that answer to these questions was essential for deciding the case  
March 24, 2010 witnessed a landmark by the Supreme Court, legalizing live-in relationship in India. The Apex  
court justified that if two sound-minded adults of the opposite sex seek to live together without getting married  
the question of a b criminal offenceb  does not arise at all. It also cited the example of Lord Krishna and Radhab s  
relationship to substantiate its judgement.  
The verdict was arrived at in response to multiple petitions filed against South Indian actress Khusboo. An  
astounding 22 FIRs were filed against the actress, in 2005, in response to her statement to an entertainment  
magazine about the rampancy of live-in relationships and pre-marital sex in India. Alarmingly, the actressb s  
effigies were burnt and life was threatened, for what reason? Excercising her fundamental right to speech?  
The verdict is being widely criticized by certain political and social groups on the ground that it would encourage  
the practice of live-in relationships in India. Also, while Khusboo continues to receive widespread flak for her  
comments, the fact remains that live-in relationships have become a common (and practical) norm in most  
Indian Metros. If two adults choose to have physical relations, without a marriage certificate to reinforce the  
legality of their actions, it is nobodyb s business but their own.  
Rights of a child born out of a live-in-relationship:  
Need for a legal provision is felt to secure the future of a child born from a relationship which has not taken the  
shape of marriage. The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 gives the status of a legitimate child to every child whether  
result of void, voidable or valid marriage. So, we donb t require a legal provision to grant legitimacy to the child,  
but to grant property and maintenance rights.  
In case the parties to live-in-relationship decide to move out of it, to secure rights of child whom none of the  
parents want to keep, there must be a provision that any of them would be responsible to look after the child.  
To ensure that his rights are actually given, Court may appoint a guardian. The child is entitled to get a share in  
the property of both the father as well as the mother.  
Cohabitation is a most controversial subject where some believes that living together is immoral while  
other arrange itb s a normal part of life.  
Most people live together because they are A Few Social Scientists are adamantly opposed to the practice of  
living together; According to Popenoe & Whitehead (2002).  
Unwilling to make long term commitment or are uncertain about whether they want to marry. Such doubts are  
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