Legal provisions and status of children born out of live-in relationships

Submitted by asandil on 5/13/2014

A live in relationship is the relationship between an adult male and a female having sound mind without entering into any formal bond of marriage. The law seeks to protect the rights of child born out of such relationship. Both parents have the onus of bringing up their children irrespective of the fact that whether they are married lawfully and socially or just cohabiting.

Since there is no specific law that recognizes the status of the couples in live in relationship, hence the law as to the status of children born to couples in live in relationship is also not very clear. The need to ascertain the status of such children obtains greater importance in a rights-based world where protection of child rights is the primary agenda in the corridors of judiciary.

With respect to this, legal precedents have gone on to hold tremendous value in tackling the issues faced by children of live in relations in identifying their position in the socio-legal setup. It is often argued that the HMA 1955 through Section 16 dealing with legitimacy of children of void and voidable marriages, the legislation indirectly ascribes a legal status to children born out of live in relations and it is only their property and maintenance rights subject to debate.

Section 112 of the Indian Evidence Act also provides that the legitimacy of a child is proved only if he/she was born during the continuance of a valid marriage between the mother and the father and consequently fails to address the issue of such children born out of live-in relationships. As a result, in India, such children have been given the status of- “Legitimate in law, Illegitimate in fact” which is proof of the insecurity such individuals face on a daily basis, the gloomy future awaiting them and their placement in a different strata of the society.

The Supreme Court has asked the Parliament to bring in a law to protect children born out of live-in relationships.”Parliament has to ponder over these issues, bring in proper legislation or make a proper amendment of the Act, so that women and the children, born out of such kinds of relationships must be protected, though those types of relationship might not be a relationship in the nature of a marriage,” the Supreme Court said.

It is safe to conclude that with the position of the legal scenario presently the child of a live in relationship is bound to encounter a lack of clarity in life regarding his or her legal status, origin and subsequent rights. This can lead to instability in the child’s life- both mentally and emotionally.

To avoid this, clear laws should be made and amendments to ambiguous terms in present laws must be made to grant clarity on the status and rights of children born in a live in relationship. This will ensure uniformity and help establish emotional, mental and physical security for such a child.

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