March 29, 2010
John Monterio’s article on Legal Floodgates Opened for Extra-marital Sex made me think deeper on the topic of live-in relationships. I am not going to deal on whether live in relationships are good or bad. It is the personal choice of individuals and can be equated to that of marriage. Live-in relationships has certainly come in handy for those couples who do not want to enter into the holy matrimony but prefer to stay together with solemn commitments to each other. Like many other aspects of everyday life which have now come to be accepted as commonplace in this country as a result of western influence, live-in relationship is also a trend which is common in the west and has now come into vogue in our country.
Recent changes in the law promises equal benefits to women who are into such relationships so that they get the status of a wife if such relationship has been going on for a 'reasonable period of time'. Though initially live-in relationships came in for much flak in our country it was just a matter of time before such relationships came to be accepted as normal.
Talking about live-in relationships, I am reminded of an incident involving my friend which in fact ended in a sad note for my friend. This incident occurred just a couple of years ago. My friend who was involved in a live-in relationship with her boyfriend for a reasonably long period of time was ditched by him as the guy felt that he could not go against the wishes of his family. The boy’s family had earlier finalized their wedding but for some unknown reason they did a volte-face firmly opposing the marriage to his long live-in girlfriend saying “You guys are not married. Forget her”. Agreed, the girl did a blunder by trusting the guy who could not stand by her after living with her for years. He turned out to be a chicken hearted fellow who could not give their relationship the legal sanctity of marriage after living with her for a considerable period of time. But that should not give a free hand for the boy to get into a relationship and move out according to his whims and fancies without owning any responsibilities in such relationships.
Now the question that arises is what is the future of this girl in such situations? Who will marry her everyone knew she was living with this guy for so long? What would have happened if the couple had a child born out of such a relationship? Knowing fully well how our society sneers at girls holding her responsible for her ‘guts’ to get into live-in relationships, one can only say her life is almost ruined. Luckily for my friend the situation had not gone to that stage.
I consoled her saying forget the society and to move on. But we all know it is easier said than done and it is not easy to face a society like ours. After all, we are living in this same society which practices double standards when it comes to the boy and the girl. Ultimately the girl and the child born out of such a relationship that is generally called illegitimate will be left out with nothing. No alimony would be provided to the girl as she is not his legally wedded wife.
On a more serious note, I respect Supreme Court’s recent decision on legalizing live-in relationships. Either of the partners of a live in relationship who do not want to break up other than their mutual consent can now file a case against their partner. There can be counseling done on what is the issue by a legal advocate and solve the matter. In fact incidents like the one faced by my friend are common but they don’t come to light as there was no legal sanctity to it. There are occasions of long standing relationships breaking up on silly pretexts. When it involves 2 people who have made a decision to stay together and if the boy changes his mind and ditches the girl, now the girl can seek justice in the court of law against the boy in question and vice versa and even claim for alimony.
Children born out of such relationships will no longer be called “Illegitimate”. They will get the same respect as that of children born to married couple. Of course legal protection itself in not a panacea for bridging broken relationships but at least the girl who is the major sufferer in such cases of live-in relationships need not feel it is the end of the road for her when something goes wrong. Every individual has a right to according to his/her wish be it in marriage or in any other field.
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