Live-in relationships in India are still taboo and surrounded by stigma. The live-in relationship law, however, offers legal protection to two adults choosing to live together. When you’re in the company of your beloved, even eternity isn’t enough, is it? Love is the warmth that you feel in your gut that science cannot explain and words cannot describe. If only the ones around you understood this bliss, they wouldn’t hate love so much.
While that may be a little over-dramatic, Indians view romantic love as the “black sheep” of emotions. It is often misunderstood, hesitantly talked about, and in most households, discarded altogether. Cohabitation in India or living together is always subject to a lot of judgment unless a couple is married.
India is a land of diverse opinions and cultures. Living together without marriage draws the attention of many in society. It is labeled unnecessary and even sinful in certain contexts. Amongst these differing opinions, the younger generations are now rejecting the stigmas around unmarried couples living together.
With the live-in relationship law supportive in India, they have taken it upon themselves to change the rules of the society and make it a place they want to live in. The Indian law for a live-in relationship has helped the people to view them in a different light.
Live In Relationship Law And Agreement In India
While culture and emotions play an important role in a society’s outlook, nothing can dilute the importance of law. The live-in relationship law in India states that the new-age relationships or the live-in relationships, although “immoral” in nature, are not illegal and have the right to life.
Here is a tale about two people in love, narrated by Sidhartha Mishra (LLB), a Supreme Court lawyer. The story is about two people unaware and unscathed about the probable moral allegations and snide remarks. They were not interested in the ways of this world and the mindset of the people in it. Neither did they care about loose relationships nor the emotionally void ones. They were just two people, in love.
Love in an Indian live-in relationship
He was 45 and she, 60. It wasn’t the 15-year age gap that took me by surprise. Rather, it was their reason for seeking me out. Neither of them had legally separated from their respective spouses. They had come to me, a lawyer, to have an agreement drawn up
The man had been living apart from his legal wife for seven years now. He had a family of four which included two grown-up children pursuing their careers. As destiny would have it, he began to feel emotionally dissatisfied with his life.
The woman, on the other hand, had separated from her husband for over four years. She had four wonderful children who were all married. An alcoholic husband and an unfortunate fate, she had been a victim of domestic violence
Residing in the same neighborhood, they felt a mutual connection and confessed their feelings to each other. As responsible and mature adults, they didn’t want to make any mistakes for the sake of each other. This is where they thought of me.
Being a lawyer, I felt it fit that they legally divorce their partners and then proceed to live their lives together. However, neither of them wished to divorce their partners but were univocal about living together. Since the live-in relationship law in India didn’t declare an unmarried couple living together as illegal, I couldn’t argue.
Related Reading: What Are The Disadvantages Of Live-In Relationships?
Love finds its way…
Giving my professional opinion, I pointed out that an agreement of cohabitation, under such circumstances, would have no legal sanction or significance. When they showed no signs of hesitation still, I drew it up.
Brooding upon this visit, I was reminded of lyricist Indeevar’s beautiful words from the Bollywood film Prem Geet:
“Naa umrr kee sima ho,
naa janm kaa ho bandhan
Jab pyaar kare koyee, toh dekhe keval mann”
Love happens when it has to happen. No one can delay or rush into it. One should never question if they’ll ever find love. What was profound about my two visitors was their maturity. Throughout our interaction they spoke confidently and with assurance. There had been no histrionics. Everything had been succinct and matter-of-fact.
This incident left an imprint on my heart that wouldn’t be so easy to erase. They made me come face-to-face with the struggles in a live-in relationships in India and why the Indian laws must be of some assistance to it.
Let’s Talk About Cohabitation in India
Cohabitation is when two people live together under the same roof irrespective of their marital status. Cohabitation in India is still seen with a lot of malice and disgust when in reality, it looks no different than a married couple living together. The Indian law for a live-in relationship is clear and precise that confirms this act to be legal.
Couples who marry or register a civil partnership acquire certain legal rights and responsibilities regarding their relationships. If a married couple (married via a religious ceremony or a civil one) – choose to end their relationship, they need to do so formally through the divorce or dissolution process.
Related Reading: 5 Alternatives To Divorce To Consider Before You Call It Quits
The live-in relationship law in India
A cohabiting or unmarried couple can separate without having to go through any formal process, but splitting up can be more difficult for them as there is no recognized structure for sorting things out. The live-in relationship law in India helps us to form a live-in relationship agreement that can help us set up some practical guidelines for the relationship between the partners.
The cohabitation agreement includes a wide range of matters. These are financial aspects, assigning and/or accepting responsibilities, handling and/or settlement of disputes. Such an agreement made beforehand could help sustain the relationship. And if the live-in relationship were to terminate, the document could ease the break-up, even save extraneous costs (like legal costs)
The Supreme Court on a live-in relationship’s stand had said that the courts would consider the agreement of cohabitation, but it would not be legally binding. Whether it can be legally enforceable, is uncertain. The live-in relationship law in India has made this abundantly clear.
For two people in love, like my visitors, the legal aspects of a live-in relationship agreement are quite secondary in comparison to the satisfaction derived from it. Their prime concerns are fairness and practicality. Cohabitation in India or anywhere else in the world must be a lot more simpler and a lot less complicated for couples like these to live peacefully.
If the two parties in question are adults and have mutually consented, then a married man living with another married or unmarried woman is legal. The other woman must be in knowledge of the man’s marital status. If not, she is free to file a criminal charge against the married man.
Yes, an unmarried couple living together in India is perfectly alright with the law. It states that although it is immoral, legally there is no case against two unmarried people living together.
The law accepts a couple living together whether married or unmarried even without a divorce as long as they are adults and have given their consent in full knowledge of each other’s marital status. However, a live-in relationship will not account to or be seen as a marriage in the eyes of law.