Repercussions of Living Together on Legal Union

This article is written by Madhur Samriti Sharma, a student of ICFAI Law School, Hyderabad

INTRODUCTION

We are living in the 21st century where there is the growth of youth, talents, technology, science, education, society, mind-set and various other zones where a human being actively participate, either on his own choice or moral pressure. But let’s not talk about any kind of pressure on people right now. Although moral pressure does play a role in the topic we are going to discuss further in detail.

DENOTATION AND CONCEPT

Marriage is an institution or a legal system in which two partners come together and unite with each other. In this system, not only the two partners but also their family members create a social, economic and legal bond with each other. As I pointed earlier about the growth and development in the societies, there are various types of marriages, literally;

  1. Child Marriages: -Marrying before the legal age, i.e. the age of 18 years and 21 years for girls and boys respectively.
  2. Marriages between two partners of the same sex: – Gay and Lesbian marriages
  3. Group marriages: – Individuals marry in groups with a lot of wives and husbands. All wives and husbands are common. Children are also the children of the entire group as a whole.
  4. Monogamy: – Where one man marries one woman.
    1. Straight Monogamy: – Remarriage is allowed after the death or divorce of one partner.
    2. Serial Monogamy: – Remarriage is not allowed.
  5. Polygyny: – A male marrying more than one female at the same time.
  6. Sororal Polygyny: – A man marrying more than one woman at the same time where all the women are sisters.
    1. Non- Sororal Polygyny: Where the wives aren’t related as sisters.
  7. Polyandry: – A woman marrying several men.
    1. Fraternal Polyandry: – Where many brothers share the same wife.
    2. Non-Fraternal Polyandry: – In this type, there is no necessity of any relation between the husbands. The wife spends time with each husband and when she spends, no other husband can claim any right over her at that time.
  8. Devitalized Marriage: – Where divorced couples stay together. One individual is married and divorced from someone and another individual is married and divorced from someone else. Both partners get divorced from their respective partners and stay together after some time.
  9. Financial Marriage: – Where the marriage is only stable on financial terms.
  10. Conflicted Marriage: – Where the spouses are not happy at all in their union and seek pleasure outside of their marriage like religious activities, children etc.
  11. Traditional Marriage: – Where the partners are moderately satisfied with marriage and life. Although the main source of stress for them is their sexual relationship and communication with each other. In some tribes, in these type of marriages, the groom brings everything which has been mentioned on the bride’s lists to legitimize the relation with the lady. He then comes with family, friends to complete the rites and rituals of the marriage and both seek the blessings of the elders.
  12.  Balanced Marriage: – Partners are moderately satisfied with everything in their marriage and life. Although the main source of stress for them is finance.
  13.  Harmonious Marriage: – Partners are satisfied with each other but they are self- centred, viewing children as a burden and parenting as a source of distress.
  14.  Vitalized Marriage: – Partners are highly satisfied with almost every area and zone of their marriage and life.
  15.  Customary Marriage: – This type of marriages are common in various tribes where the father of the bride is given gifts, money, agricultural produce etc. by the family of the groom.
  16.  Religious Marriage: – These marriages can either be a Muslim Marriage or a Christian Marriage or any other religious one. These marriages are backed by the couple’s religious beliefs.
  17.  Civil Marriage: – These marriages are performed in Court, i.e. these marriages are known as Court Marriages.

Likewise, there are still some more types, which are defined under specific religious norms and traditions, which varies from individual to individual. Now if we talk about live-in relationship and how is it related to marriage and how it is impacting on marriages, the answer would be straight yet difficult for most of the people to understand. We are in the 21st century, where adopting westernization is equally important to move ahead in life. In lieu of having a broad mind-set on various other areas which are equally important, today’s youth is more focused on broadening their mind-sets on such ideologies which are not accepted in some societies or religion still. Being a broad-minded person does not mean to go against your parents, teachers, elders or even the society if you are actually wrong!

The trend of live-in relationship starts with the young adults or even teens, where partners live together to know each other, to spend time together and then be able to decide further for the future. Living together also includes living independently with your partner, without depending on parents or others, taking responsibilities, engaged in a sexual relationship and presenting themselves as the unmarried couples.

When I say, that, this idea belongs to western countries, it is because their society is different from the other societies of the world. Children, there, are habitual of such situations where they need to be responsible and live separately from their parents. But in other societies, like India, children are closely attached to their parents and are not raised like that. Parents, here, always take care of their children even if they are 40 years old! Now when I mentioned the types of marriages above, the only motive of mine was to explain the different cultures and traditions all around the world has when it comes to marriage. Let’s talk about India’s perspective. In India, especially, marriage is considered to be a highly sacred union of partners and families all together. In ancient times, getting a divorce after marriage, or even getting remarried after divorce or the death of the male spouse, especially, for women, was considered to be a sin. Now, if we look around in today’s times, of course, there are many laws and even women are strong enough to handle themselves, but not every woman still!

The concept of live-in became so popular among young adults or even adults that the law has made few amendments. Earlier, the child born out of live-in was considered as illegitimate as the child born was not from legal marriage. There were also rights which were only given to the legally wedded wife and husband. But now, there are many cases where the couples in a live-in relationship have been given certain rights for the protection under the law. Women and children have been given:

  1. Protection against Exploitation.
  2. Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code has been provided to give a legal right of maintenance to lady partners in or out of the marriage.
  3. Section 16 of the Hindu Marriage Act, provides the legal status of legitimacy even to the illegitimate child.
  4. Children born out of wedlock or in a live-in relationship would also be the part of the inheritance.
  5. Section 2(f) of the Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The only guidelines by the Central Adoption Resource Authority are that the partners in a live-in relationship would not be allowed to adopt any child. But apart from this, there are many landmark judgements given by the Supreme Court in recent years;

  1. Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation, 1978– In this case, the couple was living together without getting married for 50 years. So, the court held that couples cohabiting and living together in a live-in relationship for long period would be assumed as married in the eyes of law. The court and the law favoured the legitimacy and frown upon bastardy.
  2. Indra Sarma vV.K.V. Sarma, 2013– The SC has illustrated four categories where the concept of live-in relationships can be considered and proved in the court of law;
  3. Domestic relationship between one adult male and one adult female, both unmarried. It is the most uncomplicated sort of relationship.
  4. Domestic relationship between a married man and an unmarried woman entered knowingly.
  5. Domestic relationship between an unmarried man and a married woman.
  6. Domestic relationship between same-sex partners.
  7. Tulsa and Ors. v. Durghatiya & Ors, 2008– The Supreme Court provided legal status to the child born from live-in. The court also mentioned that the relationship of parents must be long term and should not be a walk in and walk out the relationship as per their wishes. The court also granted Right to Property to a child born out of a live-in relationship.

CONCLUSION

Although, people are way too broad-minded and forward now still marriage remains a sacred union since ancient times and it also gains legal status automatically. After all this live-in relationship system, the purity and bond of marriage still remain pure between partners and family as the relationship is also supported by families in hard times. If a couple can live for 20-30 years together, without getting married and also with children, then I think marrying each other will not affect anything in their lives. Couples would get more secured and happy.

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