The 1990s was a changing decade. With the end of the Cold War, a lot of things
have changed everything and everyone in the world stage. The decade changed the
countries, societies, politics and economies. It also brought lot of new
technologies like the internet, video game consoles, e-commerce, military drones
and vice versa. But it also lead new problems like the low birth rate issue in
Japan, wars in Congo, Rwanda, Chechnya, Yugoslavia, Iraq etc., religious strife
in India, rise of global terrorism and so. Despite of all the problems the world
also saw the rise of new trends. One such trend is the live in relationship. The
concept was rising in especially in the urban areas and is popular among people
in their youths.
Live-in relationship is a type of arrangement where a couple would live under
the same roof without marrying together. The practice is way different from
marriage because unlike marriage which has a legal definition, live-in relation
does not have any but are consider as common-law partners. Live in relationship
is widely popular and increasing in countries like China, US, India, France. It
also became popular due to TV shows, movies, web series, anime and so on.
Live-in relationship in the mentioned countries, particularly in their urban
areas have popular because people are beginning to see disillusionment or
breakdown of marriages or when a couple is still reluctant to take further
steps. This is also a huge step where partners can know and understand each
other and could eventually lead to actual marriage.
Although live-in relationship is popular in various countries but there are
still countries that still oppose the concept of live-in relationship due to
various reasons whether it would be religious or cultural, with some considering
a taboo as live-in relationship requires no marital status, and due to the
conservative nature of some of the countries marriage is given more weight.
Because of this people in their youths are facing a lot of problems due to their
non marital status.
What Is Live-In Relationship?
The legal definition of live-in relationship is a living arrangement in which a
couple without any marital status lives together in a relationship which is not
only for a long term but also serves as an equivalent of a marriage. Live-in
relationship is also known as cohabitation. This relationship can be either a
romantic or sexual in nature and it can even be permanent. In the late
20th Century, the practice become an emerging trend in the Western Europe, South
and South East Asia, North America due to changing social roles in terms of
marriage, gender and religion.
Reasons for the Increase in Live-in Relationship
- One of main reasons why people prefer live-in reasons is they have
concerns regarding the ability to maintain a successful marriage. Even
though they do not personally experienced divorce, they are still afraid
that it could happen. Divorce recently has become a deterrent towards
marriage which could effect people psychologically, emotionally and
- The emerging theory of individualization theory in the post modern
world. According to Gidens, theory includes consensual, democratic or “pure”
relationship and selfish individualism. The theory dismantles tradition rules
and institution and replaces with modern and rational rules and framework. The
theory sees modern relationship with fulfillment of the individual and the love
which is consensual with emotional and sexual equality. However the theory is
criticized for lacking lacking methodologies and any historical and empirical
facts regarding socio-sexual systems.
- Another obvious reason is the changing of social attitudes and decline
in traditional marriages. The practice which was once prohibited by the
religion is now widely accepted by the young people. Some people would
prefer closeness, emotion and intimacy in relationship rather than follow
the duties and obligations of marriage. And lack of pressure to follow
traditional norms and values allowed people to practice live-in
- According to Christin Löffler women's moment, feminist movement led to
several changes like employment and education of women, economic, biological
and domestic independence and lack of reliability of male partners
- The downfall of Communism in the Eastern Europe and the breakup of
Yugoslavia has led to the changes in politics but also in the society, with
the decline in marriages and people practicing live-in relationship with the
trend actually existing in the 1980s.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Live-In RelationshipAdvantages
- Partners who are living together can get to know each other easily. With
the rise in divorces, the partners found it important that living together
before marrying is the best way to know each other.
- Partners can share their liabilities and they can enjoy their life like
they want. Unlike marriages, they are not lawfully bound to each other and
can break off their commitment if they want. Their relationship should be
based on mutual understanding.
- As previously mentioned people who are live-in relationship can break
off their commitment if they want to. They can choose whether or when to
leave the relationship without going through any stress of divorce.
- A partner can understand the responsibility of his/her counterpart and
has to make a decision if they can live with these choices before marriages.
- Financial Benefits- Couples living together can formulate income if they
have two properties, for example and if they rent one of them. This could be
a financial benefit for the partners. It can also teach the couples about
- Couples who are living together can often face the problems of physical
domestic violence and sometimes infidelity which could affect them
physically, financially and financially. This can also negatively affect
children as well.
- Live-in relationship can often increases the pressure to get married
albeit it was suppose to lessen the marital pressure. This pressure could be
given by either partner, friends or family.
- The partners can also face challenges like lack of rights and
authorities over marital and inherited property, funeral and burial
arrangement, lack of eligibility of coverage or benefits under insurance
contracts and vice versa.
- Another disadvantage is that broken engagements can often lead to
emotional and psychological effects like smothered, irritated, neglected and
even heartbreaks. Depression can also play a vital role in the breakup of a
live-in relationship as the relationship could end at any moment.
- Live-in relationship can also bring incompatibilities which means the
things people find it amusing can later become irritating and annoying. For
example if a partner finds the other's dry humour once amusing while dating can
become less charming when living together.
- The practice is still seen as a negative light by the society as it
still considers it as a taboo on religious, moral, class reasons etc. The
individual choices of the partners are often berated, harassed, criticized
by the society.
a.Difference between Live-in Relationship and Marriage
|Union of 2 Persons with formal commitment
which is recognized by the law is known as marriage.
||Kind of an arrangement where a couple decided
to stay together.
|Financial affairs are generally handled
||Financial affairs are generally handled
|Divorcing a spouse is painful and could lead
||Relationship can be ended in any moment as it
has no commitment.
|Families are involved in marriage as it a
union of 2 families, not only two individuals. So marriage can be a
serious matter for the families.
||Families do not usually involved in the
relationship of couples as live-in relationship is about individuals.
|Responsibilities is common in marriage,
however freedom can be restricted sometimes.
||Both partners tend to have their own freedom
and space with no involvement of obligations and responsibilities.
|Children born in marriage are accepted by the
families and the society.
||Children born in live-in relationship may
require some commitments by the partners.
|Marriage is a collective choice.
||Live-in relationship is an individual choice.
|When one of the spouse dies, the other spouse
has the legal right for the inheritance of a portion of a deceased
||When one of the partner dies, the other
partner will have no claim in the estate unless his/her name is
mentioned in the former's will.
|In post separation or divorce, a higher
income earning spouse is obligated to provide financial support to their
||Couples who lived together and then split up
are not obligated to support each other financially unless they enter
into a contract.
|Children born in a marriage can be presumed
to be the offspring of husband and wife.
||Children born in live-in relationship are not
entitled to legal presumption to paternity or maternity. They must
establish their paternity or maternity through blood tests and a legal
Socio-Legal Status Of Live-In Relationship In Various Countries
The United States of America
As mentioned previously, many people practicing live-in relationship due to low
quality marriages and psychological distress caused by it. An article by USA
TODAY states that from 1960s to 2000, about 10 million people (i.e. 8% of the
American couple households) are living together and are unmarried. Most
unmarried couples who live together are in the age groups of 25 to 34 years old.
The reasons for the increase are the higher cost in housing and tight budgets,
as well as the partners want to know each other better by spending time
together. According to the 2009 American Community Survey which was conducted by
the Census Bureau the age groups of 30-44 years old who were living together has
doubled since 1999 from 4% to 8%. A research by Richard Fry and D'Vera Cohn
states that 73 % women at the ages of 19 to 44 years who are in live-in
relationship are without a high school education which is a contrast to 52%
women who have attended college or 47% of women who have got a college degree.
As previously mentioned before in the 1970s the unmarried living together is
uncommon. The reason is that before the mid 20th Century there were laws were
against the practice of live-in relationship as well as adultery. As stated by
the PBS, is that live-in relationship was impossible in the 1960s however due to
the changing of the divorce laws in the 1960s and 1970s making divorces easier
to obtain and the rise of divorce rates, people started to live together without
marrying each other.
What was once disreputable has now become normal. However
in time these laws were struck down as it was considered as unconstitutional.
For example, the state of North Carolina has declared the law that prohibits
unmarried couples to live together is now considered as unconstitutional.
In Canada, the practice of live-in relationship is recognized as Common-Law
relationship. In simple words, couples who are living together in a relationship
which is equivalent to a marriage over a duration of time required by the law,
then it is known as common-law relationship. This can be practiced either by
straight people or people who are in same-sex relationship.
In the Canadian
region of Quebec, in 2006 about 40% of women aged 25 to 30 years old are living
in a live-in relationship. Furthermore, young women who are in live-in
relationship have the capability to control their fertility than young women who
are married. People who are in live-in relationship expressed their concern
regarding marriage and divorce like legal requirements (age or previous
People who don't want to suffer financial and emotional cost of divorce or
people who are tired of traditional norms. Additionally unlike marriage which
could be dissolved through divorce, a couple living in a live-in relationship
can end their relationship if they want to under the duration given by the law.
For instance British Columbia's Family Relations Act it states that a couple who
have lived in a marriage like relationship for at least two years and if the
application made under the Act is made within a year after they stopped living
together. The marriage like relationship can be between same or opposite gender.
Quebec which has the highest number people living in live-in relationship in the
world only happened recently. This is because of its strong Roman Catholic roots
where Church often interfere with the private and sexual life of people, this
all changed thanks to the Quiet Revolution where young people rebelled against
In the case of Becker v Pettkus
which was distributed by the
Supreme Court (summed up in Important Family Law Cases) trailed by Peter v Beblow
in 1993, together moving a force of rule law that has not decreased right
up 'til today, step by step reaching out to companions, subject to legitimate
exacting edges, backing and property rights including the extremely significant
The United Kingdom
During the Victorian England in the 19th century, live-in relationship is
strictly prohibited due to strict social sanctions and personal and high moral
standards. The working class and the poor people living in the urban areas are
mostly subjected to these social sanctions whereas the upper and the middle
class have the ability to flee their homes and can start over their lives
Fast forward to 2010s, the live-in relationship couples are the fastest growing
family types as the couples who are in live-in relationship are has increased to
17.9% equating to 3.4 million people which makes them the second largest family
type in the country compared to lone parent families which constitutes about 2.9
million people (i.e. about 15%) making them the third largest family group. The
reasons for the increase in live-in relationship is because of the higher
divorce rates as well as higher rents and house prices. Live-in relationship is
also legal in the UK.
In England and Wales, an unmarried father can get parental responsibility for
his child if :
- Register the birth of the child jointly with the mother (from 1 December
- He gets a parental responsibility agreement alongside the mother.
- He gets a parental responsibility order from a court.
In Scotland, a father who is unmarried has the parental responsibility if his
name is on the child's birth certificate.(from 4 May 2006). In Norther Ireland,
a father who is unmarried has parental responsibility if he is named or becomes
named on the child's certificate. (from 15 April 2002)
Unmarried couple who are living together has quadrupled to 2 million in the last
2 decades. About third of marriages end up in divorce which alarmingly increases
the divorce rates in France. Estimation says that 40% to 50% of the couples who
are married have already lived together pre-marriage for two years. Many couples
lost their interest in marrying and just live together simply. French legal
system has distinguished between partners who has lived together into officially
The couples who are living officially will have the same privileges in the law
as married couples which also includes social security. The couples need to
acquire a certificate from the town hall which testifies that a couple is living
together as ‘husband and wife' albeit town halls are not oblige to issue them in
which case a couple can sign a swore declaration that they live together. The
only and major downside of this that live-in relationship partners are not
recognized under the French inheritance laws which means they cannot get any
state pension when their partner dies.
Unmarried couples (including same sex partners) can sign a pacte civile de
solidarité (PAC in short) which will protect the rights of the individuals of
each party and the partners are entitled to share property rights and can enjoy
the benefits of income tax.
In Russia, particularly in the 20th century the relationship between traditional
and modern approach towards live-in relationship was dynamic and varied in not
only in law but also in practiced. In 1918 children were considered as equal
regardless of whether they are born within or outside of marriage. In 1926,
unmarried couples who went through formal civil marriage procedure can be
considered as equal before the law. From 1926-39 live-in relationship was still
tolerable in the Soviet Union.
However from 1940s to 1960s the marriage
legislature became conservative and more privileges were given to marriages.
Furthermore the marital fertility also declined following the end of World War
II due to the significant loss of male population. However the in 1969 unmarried
fathers and mother are allowed to register their children together. And in 1960s
to 1980s divorce became easy to obtain.
In the 1980s when religious renaissance
was rising, flexibility of norm in union formation begin to show. And sexual
freedom started to emerge after the changing socio-sexual norms in 1980s to
1990s. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the beginning of
the socio-economic crisis due to its transition to capitalism and everyone with
more resources are less inclined to share with anyone has led to the increase in
childbirths outside of marriage.
In the end of the 1980s, the percentage of non-marital birth was slightly above
10% as it relatively stable. However in the 1980s and even after the downfall of
the Soviet Union, non-marital births begin to rise though later it became stable
again at above 27%. By the 1990s and 2000s sexual and family diversification
became more complicated due to the new socio-economic changes.
would use all means available to protect themselves against social, family or
economic crisis. They act if the situation change for the worst and this could
lead to further breakdown of weak union ties whether it would be in marriage or
in live-in relationship.
Yu Jia and Yu Xie states that after the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949,
the Chinese government endeavor to acquire quick industrialization and
modernization the mainland China. Post Mao Zedong years likewise acquired part
of changes the monetary, social and political circles in China. In the Chinese
society, the adolescent used to remain with the families anyway because of
industrialization, movement, advanced education numerous youngsters start to
exit from the parental homes.
With no supervision from the guardians, the
adolescent start to pick a way of life of their own remembering live-for
relationship. Further instruction of ladies likewise improved during that time,
and they were turning out to be monetarily free additionally prompted the ascent
of live-in relationship, also ascent of created urban areas, high everyday
costs, examines. One examination shows that the living together rate before
first marriage was over 20% for those brought into the world after 1977.
the opened door policy came in China which lead to the country's opening the
market to the rest of the world after years of isolation. Because of this
Western Culture including live-in relationship came and divorce began to
influence the society. The socio-economic change has led to the increase in
young people's autonomy in their life decision and also the loss of parental
control over their children.
Live-in relationship in India is legal although there is no legal definition in
the Indian laws and there is a lack of specific law which gives rights to the
partners of the live-in relationship. In context to the case of S. Khushboo vs
Kanniammal & Anr
. The Supreme Court gave the judgement that Live-in relationship
may be immoral in the society due to religious and conservative nature however
it is not illegal. In India marriage is given as an importance over live-in
The concept is new in India because young people are afraid of the
social sanction imposed by the society but as times are changing, the practice
is becoming more normal in the urban areas. Live-in relationship is also a means
freedom from the responsibility and commitment which can be essential in
As for the rights of women in live-in relationship the Protection of Women from
Domestic Violence Act, 2005 which considers women who are not married formally
but are living with a male partner which is equivalent to marriage. Section 2(f)
of the act defines the domestic relationship between two partners who lived
together in the shared house or are related by marriage or a relationship which
is in nature to a marriage. Thus the definition also includes partners of
The case of Varsha Kapoor vs Union of India
, the Delhi
High Court held that female partner living in a relationship akin to marriage
has a right to file a complaint against her husband/male partner as well as his
The Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Maldives, The UAE etc.
follow the term of Zina. In this it means that practices like adultery,
fornication, live-in relationship, same-sex relationship is prohibited under the
Islamic scripture. Although consent plays an important role in the marriage,
live-in relationship is out of the question as having a relationship before a
marriage and a meeting with their families considered as a taboo.
The reason is
that the Islamic legal system prohibits the practice of pre-marital intercourse
this couples do not live together unless they are married. Islamic laws are very
strict regarding relationship and breaking such rules can lead to harsher
punishments for example in 2005, Indonesia proposed a law that could punish an
couple for living together. The punishment is two years imprisonment and 30
million Rupiah. It would also give power to the police to raid the houses of the
people who are living together.
In the 1980s, the marriage rates in Australia were declining and live-in
relationship were rising. In 1975, 16% of marriages were preceded by live-in
relationship. In 2008 it was 78%. When the Family Law Act 1975 came into force
in 1976 the already rising divorce rates have soared. By the 1980s although
divorce rates decreased, it remained above the level. It was during that time
when socio-economic changes were occurring giving lots of opportunities.
example, feminism gave women new aspirations to women beyond marriages and
motherhood. Education and employment of women were given more importance over
marriage which is why postponement of marriage is more prioritize. The rise of
live-in relationship in Australia has led to the changes in the marital status
of the parents like the increase of single parents.
According to the Australian
Institute of Family Studies, in the first half of the 20th century about 4-6% of
childbirths were outside of marriage and in the late 1960s it rose to 8% and
since the 1970s, birth rates have been increased.
So in conclusion, Live-in relationship is a new concept that acts as an
alternative to marriage so that they can know each other and so that they can
avoid divorce at all. People became open to the live-in relationship because of
changing social, political and economic changes in the society like how
countries like Russia, Bulgaria, Estonia are open to the practice of live-in
relationship after the fall of communism and Soviet Union.
Some countries are
open to this practice and has given them a legal status and some are still
against the practice as they consider it as a taboo. Human nature is very
dynamic and mysterious. On one hand, we are very hostile to changes because it
might change or disrupt the old order, but on the other hand we do bring these
changes so that people from all walks of life can progress for the better.
People who are once hostile to change will eventually open up to them. Countries
that once forbid the practice of live-in relationship will make it legal in the
future as change does not happen overnight. It is true that it is a long process
for most countries to decriminalize or remove restrictions on live-in
relationship but the process will happen anyway. Thus all we can do is that
there will be a new world order where people have every right and responsibility
to live their life without any intervention of anything or anyone.
- Zena is generally defined by Islamic Law as unlawful sexual intercourse i e
intercourse between individuals who are not married to one another.
- http://demoscope.ru/weekly/app/app4013.php accessed 29th of April 2014.
Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Anish Bachchan
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