Marriage under Hindu Law is not merely a socio-legal contract but it is a sacrament. It is seen as an institution that holds together a man and woman as husband and wife together. It is not restricted only to the couple but also to their families. In India with time, Live-In Relationships have also emerged which should be in the nature of marriage but not exactly married. After a couple gets married if they choose to divorce each other the amount given by one spouse to another for financial support is known as Alimony.[1] It is maintained that the other spouse owes to the other. The Provisions for Maintenance are provided under the Criminal Procedure Code. Palimony is a word that is derived from the word – Alimony. In a marriage, when a couple takes divorce, Alimony is provided but in Live-In Relationships, if the partners have a separation, the maintenance provided is known as Palimony. For the provision of Palimony as maintenance firstly a Live-In relationship must exist for which the most essential feature is that the relationship should be in nature of marriage. It was only after the implementation of Domestic Violence that maintenance to women in Live-In Relationships was given.


Live-In Relationships:

Live-In Relationship is not a concept that is originated in India but is a concept that has been imported to India which has its origin from the western side. The Maintenance that is given on the separation of partners in Live-In Relationships is known as Palimony.[2]The meaning of Palimony was for the first time discussed in a case law. It is the provision for providing maintenance and can be given only in genuine relationships. The Landmark case where the Live-In relationship was recognized for the first time by the Supreme Court in Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation[3]. In this case, around fifty live-in relationships were given legal validity. Live-In relationships are mostly seen in students who study in colleges and who come from different cities. It is prevalent among men and women who are from different cities, who come for jobs. Without marrying the husband of another woman, even widows stay in live-in relationships. Live-In relationship is also seen among divorced women who have children but who don’t want to commit to a nuptial life.

Right to Palimony:

In India, according to section 125 of the CrPC, a woman who is legally wedded to a man can claim maintenance from him. A woman who is not legally married to another man and who is in a live-in relationship cannot claim for maintenance under section 125. But if a woman proved that her live-in relationship was in the nature of marriage and who had a domestic relationship can seek maintenance under section 20(3) of the Protection of Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The above proposition was confirmed in Veluswamy v.Patchaiammal[4]. One of the salient features for a live-in relationship to be valid is that it should be in the nature of marriage and certain factors determine if a particular live-in relationship is in the nature of marriage or not.


Palimony as maintenance can only be claimed if the live-in relationship is in the nature of marriage and not otherwise. The Right to Palimony was termed as equivalent to Alimony and was to be awarded in the live-in relationships. This was recognized in October 2010 in the case of Veluswamy v.Patchaiammal[5]. In this case, the factors which determine whether a live-in relationship is valid if it is in the nature of marriage or not and if Palimony would be provided or not has been laid down. The factors are explained as follows –

  1. The couple in the live-in relationship must be eligible to marry.
  2. The couple must come out in society as a couple analogous to a married couple.
  3. The couple must have moved in together with free consent.
  4. The couple must have spent a notable amount of time together.
  5. Under section 2(A) of the Protection of Women from Domestic Act, the couples must have stayed together in a shared household.

The above factors must be prevalent in a live-in relationship for it to be considered valid and to claim Palimony. Scope of Palimony. In the case of Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma[6], the validity of live-in relationships at certain categories and the scope of Palimony were explained.

  1. Between an adult married male and unmarried female, if there is a domestic relationship which was entered knowingly.
  2. Between an adult unmarried male and married female, if there is a domestic relationship which was entered knowingly.
  3. Between an adult married male and unmarried female, if there is a domestic relationship which was entered unknowingly.
  4. If there is a domestic relationship between same-sex individuals.


The women who are in live-in relationships often have the scope of getting abandoned by men. They deserve the rights to be protected. The women are left without any financial assistance and they do not have any source of living too. By providing maintenance to such women, the domestic violence act came to their rescue. Though the man and woman are not married if they lived together and if it is in nature of marriage then it is enough to provide maintenance to them in form of Palimony. But a mere live-in relationship does not grant the right to maintenance. The woman in the live-in relationship has to show that they have not married but were in a relationship which was in nature of marriage. If a man and woman engage in a sexual relationship frequently it cannot be considered a live-in relationship. To get Palimony – the maintenance in a live-in relationship, it must be shown that the man and woman are not married but are living together which is in nature of marriage. [7]


The concept of a Live-in Relationship is a concept that is evolving. The right to receive Palimony is also a developing concept and it is mainly governed by the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005. The women who are in a live-in relationship and are abandoned are given justice through the provision of giving them maintenance in the live-in relationship known as Palimony. The most important condition is that the relationship should be in the nature of marriage. There are certain conditions that should be fulfilled by the couple to constitute a live-in relationship. The provision of Palimony is remarkable and it shows that the women are given protection from abandonment and are safeguarded. After the separation in a live-in relationship, the Palimony given to women serves as financial support. Palimony cannot be given if a man and women are just in a sexual relationship which doesn’t come under the definition of the nature of marriage and thus it’s not a live-in relationship. The women who are abandoned after a certain period and by the provision of Palimony, the women are given security mainly financial security. Not all people would like to stay committed but for those who are in a live-in relationship and are later separated due to various reasons, maintenance is given which proves to be beneficial especially for widowed women and those who have children from a previous marriage.

Author(s) Name: Shruthi Reddy L (Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad)


[1] The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, § 25, No.25, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India)

[2] Chanmunia v Virendra kumar Singh (2011) 1 SCC 141

[3]Badri Prasad v. Dy. Director of Consolidation (1978) 3 SCC 527

[4]Veluswamy v Patchaiammal (2010) 10 SCC 469


[6]Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma (2013) 15 SCC 755

[7] Domestic Violence Act, 2005 § 2(s), No.45 Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India)