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‘Continuous Cohabitation and Considerate amount of time’: An ambiguous stipulation in the succession right of a child born out of a live-in relationship in India.


Live-in-relationship; a relationship where two adults consensuallycohabitate and livetogether. In this relationship, the couple is not married and don’t have any responsibility towards each other. As a concept, it seems to be a little complex in Indian society, a society filled with traditional values and ethics; Where marriage is considered sacred and a building block of life and society as a whole.

However, cause of new generation liberalism, gone are the days when live-in-relationship used to be taboo. On the contrary, with the emerging nature of people, there has been a rise in this concept. 

Although the opening of minds is fine, however still many condemn this relationship. Cause of it they, are not provided equal status and, the majority time, the innocent born out of this relationship suffers.

And to deal with the issue, the Indian judiciary has taken many steps, yet there is one ‘time’ clause that has shown ambiguity in its nature.

Legal stance and the gap:

Inheritance right of a child; is the second step; before moving to that, it is significant to know that the child born out live-in relationship is legalwhich, further make them deservedly for the inheritance right.

The Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and the Indian Succession Act 1925 regulate the inheritance rights of people in India. Yet, nothing specific was there about the rights of the child born out of the live-in relationship.However, with time the interpretation came; that the rights of the child depend on legitimacy. Consequently, in S.P.S Balasubramanyam v. Suruttayan, the honourable Supreme Court talked about the legitimacy of children born out of these relationships and held favour on their side. The court held; that to consider the birth legitimate, the couple must have lived under a single roof and consensually cohabitated for some time.

Further, in the case Bharata Matha v. R. Vijaya Renganathan, the supreme court held that the child born out of a live-in relationship has the right of inheritance in the property.

After reiterated interpretations of the honourable Supreme court, the problem that exists is time. The clause that’s likely talked about in all the provisions and cases asserted aforesaid. Besides this, the Supreme court specifically, in Tulsa v. Durghatiya, claimed that children for the purpose of succession are legitimate if the parents have lived under one roof and consensually cohabitated for a considerable amount of ”time”.

Now the problem that arises here is the ambiguity of the phrase considerable amount of time used by the court in almost every judgement. The court has not provided any clarity as to what must be the considerate amount of time that will fulfil the criteria for the deservedly rights of the child. Moreover, in this new modern century, this clause exceeds its ambiguous nature. In society, a lot of new concepts have arisen such as, friends withbenefits. These new concepts are similar to the live-in relationship but, the significant difference is that they cohabitate occasionally and not very often, as portrayed by the court’s interpretations. 

Further, another thing on which law is ambiguous and debatable is continuity in cohabitation. Here the law does not cover society’s new concept called hook-up or fling. In the concept, the man and the women meet and cohabitate once or maybe a few more times but, it’s not continuous, which altogether defeats the provision.


The legal stance regarding the inheritance right in this modern society is quite uncertain. The live-in relationship came into the culture due to modernisation, and it just startedto get comfortable before the new concept came and surprised the law provisions.Although the honourable Supreme court, from time to time, has brought significant changes, yet nothing much worked out; on the contrary, it just built an atmosphere of ambiguousness.

In this fast-moving world, with more liberalism and evolving nature of humans, it is pertinent to understand there will be some addition to the trend. And thus, now more than ever, it’s high time that the judiciary needs to clarify the clause and bring precise changes to it as well.

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