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This article tries to offer a thorough analysis of the legitimacy of live-in relationships in India. Live-in relationships, which are characterized as cohabitation between two people who are not legally married, have grown in acceptance and appeal recently. However, the legal recognition and protection of such connections continue to be a complicated and developing area of Indian law. Unmarried couples who decide to live together in a relationship that resembles marriage are referred to as live-in relationships. The concept of live-in relationships has gained prominence in India due to changing social norms and evolving lifestyles. However, the legal status of such relationships remains a topic of debate and ambiguity. This paper aims to provide an overview of the legal aspects concerning live-in relationships in India.

Keywords: Live-in Relationship, Cohabitation, Legal Status, Unmarried couples


Live-in relationships have become much more well-known and accepted as alternatives to conventional forms of cohabitation and matrimony in recent years. Without the formality of marriage, these relationships—which are characterized by unmarried couples sharing a home—offer a sense of commitment and affection. Thoughts and rumors have been raised over whether live-in relationships are permitted in India. This blog tries to give a general overview of live-in couples’ legal standing in the Indian setting.


The institution of marriage has traditionally been a cornerstone of Indian society, which views it as the only acceptable type of union. Although over time society’s values and standards have changed, numerous types of relationships, including live-in relationships, have come to be recognized and accepted. Even though there isn’t a law in India specifically dealing with livein relationships, the court has had a significant impact on how such relationships are governed under the law.


Supreme Court’s Stance:

The Supreme Court of India, in various landmark judgments, has acknowledged and protected the rights of individuals in live-in relationships. The court has held that live-in relationships are not illegal or immoral, emphasizing that adults have the right to live together without marriage.

It recognized that such relationships are based on personal choices and should be respected.

Protection of Women:

In recent years, the judiciary has focused on safeguarding the rights of women in live-in relationships. The Domestic Violence Act of 2005 was amended to include provisions protecting women in live-in relationships. Women in such relationships are entitled to legal protection against physical, emotional, and economic abuse, similar to married women. They can seek relief and remedies under this act.

Right to Maintenance:

The concept of maintenance, typically associated with legal marriages, has also been extended to live-in relationships. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman in a long-term live-in relationship has the right to claim maintenance from her partner. The court recognized the moral and legal obligation of the man to provide financial support to his partner in a live-in relationship, especially when they have children together.

Property Rights:

While property rights in live-in relationships are not as clear-cut as in legal marriages, courts have shown a willingness to protect the rights of partners. In certain cases, if a couple has lived together for a significant period and shared their lives as husband and wife, courts have granted women a share in the partner’s property. This is based on the principle of unjust enrichment, where one party unfairly benefits at the expense of the other.

Child Custody and Legitimacy:

Children born out of live-in relationships are granted the same rights and legitimacy as children born in wedlock. The biological father is legally obliged to provide financial support and can also seek custody or visitation rights. Courts consider the welfare and best interests of the child when deciding such matters.


The Supreme Court made the initial observation that live-in relationships are legal in Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation in 1978. It was determined that Indian law permits a live-in relationship between consenting individuals who are of legal marriageable age and sound mind. The Supreme Court ruled that a relationship will be assumed to be a marriage if a couple has been living together for a significant amount of time. As a result, the Court approved the live-in couple’s 50-year relationship.

The essential liberties and rights” outlined in the Indian Constitution must be known to you. By performing a more thorough analysis of the rights and freedoms, it may be inferred that

Article 21 of the Indian Constitution contains the legal foundations for live-in partnerships. The basic right guaranteed by the Indian Constitution Article cannot be divorced from the freedom of choice and the right to marry or live with someone.

In Payal Sharma v. Nari Niketan, 2001, the Supreme Court maintained the ruling by stating that a man and woman have the full legal right to live together with each other’s agreement and willingness without getting married. In this case, the court ruled that although live-in relationships are seen negatively by society, they are not against the law or otherwise unlawful in India. Live-in relationships between couples do not constitute criminal offenses.

One of the most important cases concerning live-in relationships is the case of Indra Sharma v. V.K. Sharma, 2013. The matter of live-in relationships has been extensively discussed in this case and serves as a basic framework for matters of live-in relationships. Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 was referred to by the Court while explaining the legal status of the live-in relationship, where ‘domestic relationship’ has been defined. Domestic relationship encompasses within it a relationship in the ‘nature of marriage’ which can be implied as live-in relationships.


Even though they are not explicitly recognized by law, live-in relationships in India now have legal protection and recognition thanks to judicial rulings. People in live-in partnerships have their rights recognized by the Supreme Court and other subordinate courts, particularly women and children. The legal framework offers options for abuse protection, maintenance access, and property rights. People in live-in relationships must be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities to create an atmosphere that is fair and just for everyone involved. Legislators must handle the legal complexities and craft comprehensive legislation that takes into account the realities of contemporary partnerships in India as cultural opinions towards these issues continue to change.


This article is written by Garima Tiwari ,Amity University Lucknow ,3rd year LLB during her internship with LeDroit India.

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