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Live-In Relationships Illegitimate if One Partner is Married: Madras High Court

In a ruling on June 7, the Madras High Court held that a live-in relationship is not legitimate if one of the partners is already married.

Justice RMT Teekaa Raman stated that adults living together when one is already in a matrimonial relationship cannot claim succession or inheritance rights to the property of their alleged live-in partner.

Court’s Stand on Extramarital Relationships

Justice Raman emphasized that extramarital relationships should not be misrepresented as live-in relationships. He noted, “The situation is different if both individuals are unmarried and choose to live together as adults. However, labeling an extramarital relationship as a ‘live-in’ relationship is misleading and should be discouraged.”

Case Background

The ruling came during the hearing of an appeal by P Jayachandran, who challenged a trial court’s decision. Jayachandran and Margarette Arulmozhi had lived together without being married, despite Jayachandran being legally married to another woman, with whom he had five children. Although Jayachandran and his wife were not in an active relationship, they were not legally divorced. During his relationship with Arulmozhi, they purchased a house, which was registered in Arulmozhi’s name through a settlement deed.

After Arulmozhi’s death in 2013, Jayachandran canceled the settlement deed and claimed the house. However, Arulmozhi’s father contested this, and the trial court ruled in his favor. Jayachandran then appealed to the High Court, arguing that his live-in relationship with Arulmozhi should grant him rights to her property.

High Court’s Decision

Justice Raman ruled that without a valid divorce, Jayachandran’s relationship with Arulmozhi could not be legally recognized as a marriage. “In this case, the appellant entered into a live-in relationship with Arulmozhi while being married with children. The presumption of a valid marriage does not apply here. Therefore, their relationship cannot be considered a marriage, and Arulmozhi’s status was that of a concubine,” stated the High Court.

The Court upheld the trial court’s decision, noting that since Arulmozhi’s father had died during the proceedings, the property would go to his other legal heirs.

Advocate C Shankar represented Jayachandran, while Advocate G Jeremiah represented the legal heirs of Arulmozhi’s father.

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