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News : "Kerala High Court Rules Against Divorce for Live-In Couples"

The Kerala High Court recently ruled that live-in couples are not eligible to seek divorce.

  • The bench of Justices A. Muhamed Mustaque and Sophy Thomas emphasized that living together based on an agreement does not constitute a marriage and, therefore, does not grant the right to seek divorce.
  • The case involved appellants who had a registered agreement and started living together, resulting in a 16-year-old child. However, they no longer desired to continue their relationship and sought a mutual divorce.
  • The Family Court in Ernakulam, where they filed a joint petition invoking Section 28 of the Special Marriage Act, dismissed their plea, as the marriage was not solemnized under this particular law.
  • The High Court stated that marriage, as a social institution, is recognized and reflected in legislation, based on the social and moral ideals of the larger society.
  • Currently, live-in relationships are not considered marriages under the law, and only marriages solemnized according to personal or secular laws, such as the Special Marriage Act, are recognized.
  • The High Court clarified that living together under an agreement does not qualify as a marriage and, consequently, divorce cannot be claimed in such cases.
  • Divorce is specifically meant for legally recognized marriages and serves as a means of separation within those unions.
  • The court highlighted that divorce laws in India are tailored through legislation and only acknowledge specific forms of marriage as valid.
  • The Family Court does not have jurisdiction over claims for separation in live-in relationships, as the Family Court Act only applies to marriages recognized by the law.
  • The High Court expressed that the Family Court should have deemed the petition as not maintainable due to its lack of jurisdiction, rather than dismissing the claim.
  • Legislative changes would be required to recognize live-in relationships for divorce purposes, according to the court’s opinion.

In summary, the Kerala High Court’s decision clarifies that live-in couples cannot seek divorce as their relationship does not meet the legal requirements for marriage. The court suggests that changes in legislation are necessary to recognize live-in relationships and provide appropriate legal measures, such as divorce, in such cases.

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