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Live-in Relationship in Indian Society

Published: 14th May, 2024


Live-in relationships, although not explicitly recognized by Indian laws, have gained prominence in contemporary society. These relationships challenge traditional notions of marriage and cohabitation, raising important questions about morality, legality, and societal acceptance.

Societal Perspective on Live-in Relationships:

  • In Indian society, the concept of live-in relationships has sparked debates and discussions regarding morality and social norms. While some view these relationships as progressive and reflective of individual freedom, others perceive them as immoral or culturally unacceptable.
  • Despite legal recognition, live-in relationships continue to face societal stigma and disapproval, particularly in conservative communities. Social attitudes towards unmarried cohabitation lead to discrimination and ostracization of couples in such relationships.
  • Responsible factor for growth: Urbanization, globalization, and exposure to Western values have contributed to greater acceptance of non-traditional relationship models, including live-in arrangements.

Implications of Live-in relationships on Society

  • Changing Social Norms: Live-in relationships challenge traditional notions of marriage and family, leading to shifts in societal norms regarding relationships and cohabitation.
  • Acceptance and Stigma: The social stigma may impact individuals' social standing and relationships with family and friends.
  • Legal Ambiguity: In the absence of specific laws governing live-in relationships, legal rights and responsibilities concerning property, inheritance, and child custody can be uncertain.
  • Impact on Children: Children born or raised in live-in relationships may face societal judgment and legal complications, particularly regarding inheritance and parental rights. Moreover, the stability and long-term prospects of such family structures may affect children's well-being and social integration.
  • Impact on Marriage: The prevalence of live-in relationships may influence perceptions of marriage, leading some individuals to choose cohabitation over formal marriage or delay marriage altogether. This trend can have broader implications for family structures and social institutions.
  • Positive implications: Personal Freedom and Autonomy, Compatibility Testing, Flexibility and Adaptability, Emotional Support and Companionship, Social Cohesion and Community Bonds

Fact Box: Constitutional Provisions for Live-in Relationships

  • In India, there are no specific laws about live-in relationships.
  • The Supreme Court (Badri Prasad vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation (1978)) recognizes that people have the right to live together, which is part of their right to life (Article 21).  So, living together without marriage is not against the law anymore.
  • If a man and a woman live together like a married couple for a long time and even have children, the courts will treat them as if they were married. This means that the same laws about marriage and relationships will apply to them.
  • The Allahabad High Court also recognized live-in relationships in Payal Sharma v/s Nari Niketan. The judges said that it's okay for a man and a woman to live together even if they're not married. They pointed out that there's a difference between what the law says and what society thinks is right.

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