Cohabitation is an arrangement whereby two people decide to live together on a long-term or permanent basis in an emotionally and/or sexually intimate relationship. The term is most frequently applied to couples who are not married. Today, cohabitation is a common pattern among people in the Western world. People may live together for a number of reasons. These may include wanting to test compatibility or to establish financial security before marrying. It may also be because they are unable to legally marry, due to reasons such as same-sex, some inter-racial or inter-religious marriages are not legal or permitted. Other reasons include living as a way for polygamists or poly-amorists to avoid breaking the law, or as a way to avoid the higher income taxes paid by some two-income married couples (in the United States), negative effects on pension payments (among older people), or philosophical opposition to the institution of marriage (that is, seeing little difference between the commitment to live together and the commitment to marriage). Some individuals also may choose cohabitation because they see their relationships as being private and personal matters, and not to be controlled by political, religious or patriarchal institutions.
Some couples prefer cohabitation because it does not legally commit them for an extended period, and because it is easier to establish and dissolve without the legal costs often associated with a divorce. In some jurisdictions cohabitation can be viewed legally as common-law marriages, either after the duration of a specified period, or the birth of the couple's child, or if the couple consider and behave accordingly as husband and wife. (This helps provide the surviving partner a legal basis for inheriting the deceased's belongings in the event of the death of their cohabiting partner.) In
Saskatchewan, , a married person may
cohabit with other married or single persons and become the spouses of all of
them under the Saskatchewan Family Property Act. Consent of the
"subsequent spouse" is not required. Although Canada has a federal
criminal code law prohibiting polygamy, which includes anyone who authorizes
more than one conjugal union at a time, Saskatchewan judicial authorities that
unilaterally authorize multiple conjugal unions have not yet been charged under
this federal law. Canada
In the Western world, a man and a woman who lived together without being married were once socially shunned and persecuted and, in some cases, prosecuted by law. In some jurisdictions, cohabitation was illegal until relatively recently. Other jurisdictions have created a Common-law marriage status when two people of the opposite sex live together for a prescribed period of time. Most jurisdictions no longer prosecute this choice. In the
of Saskatchewan, , judicial authorities have
used binding authority to sanction married women being the same time
"spouse" of other men due to cohabitation. Consent to be spouses of
all persons involved are not required. Therefore, it is likely that future
court challenges in Canada
will use this Canadian case law to claim married persons may also civilly marry
other persons without divorcing first. Canada
A scientific survey of over 1,000 married men and women in the
found those who moved in with a lover
before engagement or marriage reported significantly lower quality marriages
and a greater possibility for splitting up than other couples. About 20 percent
of those who cohabited before getting engaged had since suggested divorce - compared with only 12 percent of
those who only moved in together after getting engaged and 10 percent who did
not cohabit prior to marriage. United States of America
Psychologist Dr Galena Rhoades said: "There might be a subset of people who live together before they got engaged who might have decided to get married really based on other things in their relationship - because they were already living together and less because they really wanted and had decided they wanted a future together. We think some couples who move in together without a clear commitment to marriage may wind up sliding into marriage partly because they are already cohabiting."
Cohabitation or live-in relationships in India is though not illegal, is considered to be socially and morally improper. Cohabitation is prevalent mostly among the rich youths living in metro cities in
The people having a live-in relationship are generally young professionals and students who are living alone, away from their family members for the purpose of job or education. The partners take a flat for rent and live their secretly, without notifying their family members. Live-in relationships and sex before marriage is found to be pre-dominant mostly only among rich and upper class people.
Female live-in partners have economic rights under Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005.
Vs. Kanniammal & Anr.,
the Supreme Court of India, placing reliance
upon its earlier decision in Lata
Singh Vs. State of U.P. & Anr., held that live-in-relationship is
permissible only in unmarried major persons of heterogeneous sex. The Supreme
Court on 13 August 2010 in the case of Madan
Mohan Singh & Ors v. Rajni Kant & Anr. has once again entered the
debate on legality of the Live-in Relationship as well as legitimacy of Child
born out of such relationship. The Court while dismissing the appeal in the
property dispute held that there is a presumption of marriage between those who
are in live-in relationship for a long time and this cannot be termed as
'walking-in and walking-out' relationship. In the case of Bharata Matha & Ors v. R.
Vijaya Renganathan & Ors. dealing with the legitimacy of child
born out of a live-in relationship and his succession of property rights, the
Supreme Court held that child born out of a live-in relationship may be allowed
to succeed inheritance in the property of the parents, if any, but doesn't have
any claim as against Hindu ancestral co-parcenary property.
The Delhi High Court in its decision on 10 August 2010, in Alok Kumar v. State & Anr while dealing with the validity of lives in relationship held that "‘Live-in relationship’ is a walk-in and walk-out relationship. There are no strings attached to this relationship, neither this relationship creates any legal bond between the parties. It is a contract of living together which is renewed every day by the parties and can be terminated by either of the parties without consent of the other party and one party can walk out at will at any time."(
The Supreme Court in the case of D. Velusamy v.D. Patchaiammal held that, a ‘relationship in the nature of marriage’ under the 2005 Act must also fulfill the following criteria’s (a) The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to spouses. (b) They must be of legal age to marry. (c) They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried. (d) They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time, and in addition the parties must have lived together in a ‘shared household’ as defined in Section 2(s) of the Act. Merely spending weekends together or a one night stand would not make it a ‘domestic relationship’. It also held that if a man has a ‘keep’ whom he maintains financially and uses mainly for sexual purpose and/or as a servant it would not, in our opinion, be a relationship in the nature of marriage’.