Live-in relationship in simple terms can be explained as a relationship in the nature of marriage where both partners enjoy individual freedom and live in a shared household without being married to each other. It involves continuous cohabitation between the parties without any responsibilities or obligations towards one another. There is no law tying them together and consequently either of the partners can walk out of the relationship, as and when, they will to do so.
There is no legal definition of live in relationship and therefore the legal status of such type of relationships is also unsubstantiated. The Indian law does not provide any rights or obligations on the parties in live relationship. The status of the children born during such relationship is also unclear and therefore, the court has provided clarification to the concept of live in relationships through various judgments. The court has liberally professed that any man and women cohabiting for a long term will be presumed as legally married under the law unless proved contrary.
The right to maintenance in live in relationship is decided by the court in accordance with the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 and the individual facts of the case.
Though the common man is still hesitant in accepting this kind of relationship, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005, provides for the protection and maintenance thereby granting the right of alimony to an aggrieved live-in partner.
The landmark Supreme Court judgment on the concept of live in relationship:
Badri Prasad vs. Dy. Director of Consolidation, 1978
This was the first case in which the Supreme Court of India recognized live in relationship and interpreted it as a valid marriage. In this case, the Court gave legal validity to a 50 year live in relationship of a couple. It was held by Justice Krishna Iyer that a strong presumption arises in favour of wedlock where the partners have lived together for a long term as husband and wife. Although the presumption is rebuttable, a heavy burden lies on him who seeks to deprive the relationship of its legal origin.