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Live-in Couples Cannot Seek Divorce, Rules Kerala HC

In Kerala
June 13, 2023

KOCHI:
The Kerala High Court has said that when two parties decide to live together by virtue of a mere agreement, and not in accordance with any personal law or the Special Marriage Act, they cannot claim it to be a marriage or seek divorce.

This was pointed out by a division bench of the high court which said, “The law is yet to recognise the live-in relationship as a marriage. The law accords recognition only if the marriage is solemnised in accordance with the personal law or in accordance with secular law like the Special Marriage Act. If the parties decide to live together by virtue of an agreement, that by itself will not qualify them to claim it as a marriage and claim divorce thereon,” the court said.

“The law recognizes divorce as a means of separating a legal marriage. There may be a situation where the relationship qualifies for the creation of reciprocal obligations or duties elsewhere. But that does not mean that such a relationship can be recognised for the purpose of divorce,” added the court.

The court was considering an appeal filed by a couple, who were in a live-in-relationship, challenging an order of the Family Court refusing to grant them divorce under the Special Marriage Act.

The appellant-couple, one a Hindu and the other a Christian, had entered into a registered agreement in February, 2006 to live together.

They lived as husband and wife for a long time and also had a child together.

Since they wished to separate and end the relationship they approached the Family Court with a joint petition for mutual divorce under the Special Marriage Act.

But the Family Court refused to grant them divorce taking note of the fact that they were not married under the Special Marriage Act.

Noting that the Family Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain such a claim of divorce, the high court directed it to return the petition holding it as not maintainable.