Live in Relationship Rules in India [2024 Guide]

In recent years, live-in relationships have become increasingly common in India, especially among the younger generation.

This arrangement involves a couple living together without being legally married.

While attitudes are slowly changing, live-in relationships are still a controversial topic in Indian society.

Live in Relationship Rules in India

Live in Relationship Rules in India

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of live-in relationships in India – what they mean, the laws around them, the pros and cons, and more.

Let’s get started!

What is a Live-in Relationship?

A live-in relationship is when a couple lives together under the same roof without being married. They share their lives like a married couple would, but without the legal commitment of marriage.

Live-in relationships are based on the idea of companionship and compatibility, rather than the traditional view of marriage as a sacred union.

People choose live-in relationships for various reasons:

  • Testing compatibility before marriage
  • Freedom from the responsibilities of marriage
  • Financial convenience of sharing expenses
  • Belief that love doesn’t require legal validation

However, live-in relationships are still not widely accepted in India due to cultural and religious reasons. Many view it as going against traditional family values.

Live-in Relationship Laws in India

There are no specific laws in India governing live-in relationships.

However, over the years, the Supreme Court has recognized live-in relationships in several judgments:

Year Ruling
1978 Live-in relationships are valid if marriage-like obligations are met
2005 Female live-in partners have economic rights under Domestic Violence Act
2008 Women in long-term live-in relationships should get wife’s status
2009 Women in live-in relationships can claim maintenance under Cr.P.C. Sec. 125
2013 Children born in live-in relationships are legitimate

So while live-in relationships don’t have dedicated laws, the courts have gradually provided some protections and rights to couples, especially to women and children.

Protection for Women in Live-in Relationships

Women in live-in relationships are vulnerable as they don’t have the same legal rights as married women.

However, some laws provide safeguards:

  • Domestic Violence Act, 2005: Protects women in relationships “in the nature of marriage” from domestic abuse. Includes live-in relationships.
  • Section 125 of CrPC: Allows women to claim maintenance from partners. Supreme Court expanded this to include women in long-term live-in relationships.

These provisions aim to protect women from being exploited in live-in relationships, though they don’t provide the full range of rights that marriage does.

Rights of Children from Live-in Relationships

Children born out of live-in relationships often face social stigma and legal hurdles. However, the Supreme Court has affirmed their rights:

  • Legitimacy: Children born in live-in relationships are legitimate and not to be considered illegitimate.
  • Inheritance: Such children can claim a share in their parents’ self-acquired property, but not in joint family property (HUF).
  • Maintenance: They are entitled to maintenance from their parents under Section 125 of CrPC.

Despite these protections, the legal rights of children from live-in relationships are still not at par with those from marriages. The law is evolving to address their interests better.

Live-In Relationships: A Global View

The acceptance of live-in relationships varies across the world:

  • Western countries: Widely accepted, legally recognized. Some like the Netherlands give cohabiting couples similar rights as married ones.
  • North America: Common, especially among youth. Laws address cohabitation aspects like property rights.
  • Asia: Acceptance varies. More common in urban areas, and frowned upon in conservative regions.
  • Middle East: Generally not accepted due to cultural-religious reasons. May face legal issues.
  • Africa: Varies based on country and culture. More accepted in some regions than others.
  • Oceania: Progressive outlook. Australia and New Zealand provide legal protections for de-facto relationships.

As societies evolve, attitudes towards cohabitation are gradually changing globally. However, there’s still a long way to go for universal acceptance.

Live-In Relationships in India: A Closer Look

In India, live-in relationships have been a taboo topic since British times. But with changing times, it has gained some acceptance, especially in cities. Rural areas largely still consider it unacceptable.

Some key developments in India:

  • 2008: Maharashtra government suggests granting wife’s status to women in live-in relationships for a “reasonable period”.
  • 2008: The National Commission for Women recommends including live-in partners in the definition of “wife” under Section 125 CrPC for maintenance claims.
  • 2013: Supreme Court identifies five types of live-in relationships in Indra Sarma vs V.K.V.Sarma case. Says such relationships are covered under the Domestic Violence Act.

Despite some legal recognition, live-in couples don’t enjoy the same social approval and rights as married ones. The patriarchal mindset often puts women in such relationships at a disadvantage.

Pros and Cons of Live-In Relationships

Live-in relationships have their advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at both sides:


  • Allows partners to test compatibility before marriage.
  • Provides freedom from marital responsibilities.
  • Easier to walk out if the relationship doesn’t work.
  • Individuals can make informed choices about relationships.


  • Lack of social acceptance, seen as taboo.
  • No clear legal status, and limited rights compared to marriage.
  • Women are often vulnerable to exploitation.
  • Children may face social stigma and legal hurdles.
  • Could encourage multiple partners, and “objectionable” social behavior.

The suitability of live-in relationships depends on individual perspectives. Some see it as progressive, others as a threat to traditional values.


  • 1. Is a Live-In Relationship legal in India?

Live-in relationships are legal in India. However, there are no specific laws governing them. The legal status and rights of live-in couples are not as clear as those of married couples.

  • 2. What is the purpose of a live-in relationship?

The purpose varies from couple to couple. Some see it as a way to test compatibility before marriage. Others prefer it as a lifestyle choice without the commitments of marriage.

  • 3. What is the age limit for a live-in relationship?

There is no legal age limit for live-in relationships. However, partners must be above the age of consent (18 years). Any sexual activity with a minor is a criminal offense.

  • 4. Can a married man enter a live-in relationship in India?

No, a married man cannot legally enter a live-in relationship in India. It would be considered adultery, which is a punishable offense. It is also unethical and goes against the principles of marriage.

  • 5. Is a live-in relationship legally valid?

Live-in relationships have some legal validity in India based on various Supreme Court judgments. Partners have certain rights and protections under laws related to domestic violence, maintenance, and inheritance. However, the legal recognition is not as comprehensive as marriage.

More Legal Rights to Know in India:


Live-in relationships are a reality in modern India, but they remain a complex and controversial topic.

While the courts have taken progressive steps in recognizing the rights of live-in partners, especially women and children, the legal framework is still evolving.

Socially, live-in relationships continue to face stigma and disapproval in many parts of the country.

Ultimately, the choice to enter a live-in relationship is a personal one that should be based on individual beliefs, compatibility, and life goals. Couples need to be aware of the legal and social implications of such a decision.

As society evolves, attitudes towards live-in relationships are likely to change gradually.

However, the institution of marriage is deeply rooted in Indian culture and will likely remain the preferred choice for most people in the foreseeable future.

Hope, you are now aware of the live in relationship rules in India.

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