What is a live-in relationship?
The concept of live in relationship is somewhat similar to marriage where two people, not related to each other, live together under the same roof as a married couple. According to the Indian Laws, only those people who have been married through the customs and religions of the family, can be termed as a married couple.
Live-in relationship is a western concept, which is now being practiced in India, creating a rift between the old and the new generation. In a conservative society like India, marriage & living with your legally wedded partner is considered a sacrament. For the old generation, those in a live-in relationship, can be viewed as creating a mockery of this institution.
This western concept of living together with your partner without a marital bond although has created a rift between the generations but has been acclaimed and appreciated by many for various reasons, such as:
- Space Autonomy: In a live-in relationship setting, both the partners have autonomy to live independent lives and not a codependent life on each other like in a marriage. In the marriage, both the partners have to take decisions regarding their individual and collective lives together while in a live-in relationship, although the partners are living together but still have autonomy over their personal lives.
- Minimal Responsibilities: A marriage in the Indian atmosphere, both the partners have equal responsibilities towards their individual and collective families. They both have to represent their marital bond by being present unitedly at any and all familial requests. While in a live-in relationship, there is no forceful responsibility but voluntary responsibilities where they can learn to live together and understand the division of work.
- Walk in, walk out: A marriage is a pious and sacred bond where not only the two people but the families of those people are involved as well. Thus, interference of family is required in the make-up and break up of such a bond. Separation cannot be done hastily as it requires time effort and a lot of reconciliation efforts on part of those individual as well as families, while in a live-in relationship when both or either of the partner feels that the relationship is not working out for them or the people are not compatible enough, they are free to walk out and move on with their lives.
- No regrets: If a marriage does not work out, the divorce process is extremely lengthy and tiring, making both the people regret the decision of marrying. A lot of issues such as financial stability, housing, child support etc are to be determined in a divorce settlement while in a live-in relationship, both people can move on with their lives without any regret.
Even after so much opposition from the society, a lot of people are moving towards this set up as it can be moulded and customised as per their needs and requirements. Further, since there are no legal statutes to regulate the rights, liabilities, maintenance, etc if any mishap happens in a live-in relationship, the Indian judiciary through a lot of decided cases, have tried to bring live in relationship into the ambit of law and have laid down appropriate remedies.
What is the status of a child born in a live-in relationship?
A child born in a live-relationship has three major rights:
In a traditional society like India, a live-in relationship is still considered a taboo and a child born out of wedlock is considered as an illegitimate child.
In almost all religious practices in India, traditional customs do not confer any right and duties upon the illegitimate children. Only the children born from the wedlock of two people are considered legitimate children and enjoy the love and affection of the family as well as respect in the eyes of the society.
Since, live in relationship is a very thought and informed decision taken up by two sound mind people who voluntarily wish to live together under one roof and if by consequence of that, a child is born then labelling that child as an illegitimate child is a debatable question on morality.
There is no specific law to regulate the relationship of a live-in couple and the children born out of them but the judiciary has brought live-in relationship and the children born from them into the ambit of law by connecting them to various already established acts.
The Hindu Marriage Act talks about the rights and duties of children born out of wedlock. The Hindu Marriage Act, unlike other religions, glances upon illegitimate in fact, legitimate in law rule, thereby making any child who has been born out of an invalid marriage, a legitimate child. The intention of providing this amendment was to bring a change in the social reform and the mindset of the society that no matter legitimate or illegitimate, the rights of the children must be protected.
The criminal code through section 125, also provides that through the order of an appropriate judge a person can be held liable to pay for maintenance of the wife, children both legitimate as well as illegitimate and the parents.
The issue of property or inheritance right have been dealt with in a very vague manner in the Hindu marriage act when it comes to the position of illegitimate children or children born out of the wedlock. Due to this a lot of contradicting judgements and legal complications have risen.
It is debated that the intention was to never to marry then how can the children born from a live-in relationship be given the status of legal heirs and thus, these children must not be provided any inheritance rights.
However, it is the responsibility of the courts to not look at the welfare of a particular person or a particular family but for the benefit of the entire society. Thus, the courts through their vested authority have expanded the perspective of these laws to bring vulnerable children into the ambit of law to make sure that the mistakes of their parents do not bring them under the bus.
How can G.S. Bagga help you?
Greetings! Though, the Courts have always ensured that a child born in a live-in relationship of a rational period should not be neglected the right to inheritance and this process is in sync with Article 39(f) of the Indian Constitution.
The offices of G.S. Bagga & Associates have been experienced in family law and matrimonial issues for over 7 years now. If you’ve found the above information satisfying, you can get in touch with us and can book a free consultation. We would love to support you with our legal expertise in the matter. Feel free to contact us, anytime.