Daily Current Affairs for UPSC

Legal Position on Live-in Relationships

Syllabus: Social Issues, Governance [GS Paper-2]


Live-in relationships, which are also called cohabitation, have been on the rise in India in recent years. Nevertheless, the legal position on live-in relationships is still in the process of development and is often ambiguous.

Legal Recognition

  • Non-marital cohabitation is not officially regarded as a legal entity under Indian law. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has decided to go in the direction of the progressive institutions by recognizing the rights of couples in live-in relationships.
  • The famous case of S. Khushboo v. Kanniammal (2010) in which the Supreme Court declared that a live-in relationship is not illegal and the couple has the right to stay together without any social or legal restrictions was a landmark case.
  • Celebrating the couples of live-in relationships, the suitable age, the disagreements, and the precautions of the couple’s situations- these are all rights accredited to the couples in live-in relationships.

Rights of Couples in Live-in Relationships

Couples in live-in relationships have several rights, including:

  • Right to live together: Couples should not be subjected to any social or legal prohibitions in the course of living together.
  • Right to inheritance: Couples in live-in relationships will be able to inherit each other’s property if they have a will or some other legal document because it is not automatic.
  • Right to maintenance: Couples in live-in relations can get maintenance from each other in case of separation or divorce.
  • Right to protection from domestic violence: Couples in live-in relationships are covered by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 in order to be protected from domestic violence.

Responsibilities of Couples in Live-in Relationships

Couples in live-in relationships also have several responsibilities, including:

  • Financial responsibilities: Spouses are dependent on each other for financial stability and can be held responsible for each other’s debts.
  • Emotional responsibilities: Couples are the ones who have to be the ones who are responsible for the emotional well-being of each other and also they can be held accountable for any emotional distress which they cause.
  • Social responsibilities: Couples are responsible for each other’s social life and can be forced to do any social obligations.

Legal Challenges

Despite the legal recognition of live-in relationships, couples in such relationships still face several legal challenges, including:

  • Lack of legal framework: Now there is no legal regulation that covers live-in relationships, hence there is no one knows what to do, which can make the situation of live-in relationships unclear and confusing.
  • Social stigma: Couples in live-in relationships are still perceived as the unacceptable norm in Indian society, hence, they face the social and family pressure.
  • Limited rights: The couples in the live-in relationships have very few legal rights compared to the married couples.


In conclusion, the legal position on live-in relationships in India is evolving and often unclear. Although the Supreme Court has been the first one to accept the couples in live-in relationship as the second family of the country and the rights of the couples in the live-in relationship are being recognized by the Court, however, there is still a necessity of a complete legal framework to govern such relationships. Couples in the live-in relationships have to know the rights and responsibilities and be prepared to take the steps to save themselves legally and financially.

Source: The Hindu

UPSC Mains Practice Question

Q. Discuss the legal framework surrounding live-in relationships in India, examining the rights and obligations of individuals involved in such arrangements. Assess the evolution of judicial precedents and legislative interventions in recognizing and regulating live-in relationships.

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