‘Live-In partner’ of married man entitled to interim maintenance under Domestic Violence Act

The Delhi High Court recently upheld the order of an Additional Session Judge directing a married man to pay ad-interim maintenance ₹10,000 per month as maintenance to a woman with whom he allegedly had a live-in relationship for over six years under the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.


The Constitution in Article 15(3) lends helping hands to the women and children by incorporating that nothing would prevent the State from legislating any provisions for women and children. 

Article 14 prohibits discrimination of any kind but Article 15(3) encourages affirmative discrimination in favour of women.


          The Act( a civil law) is enacted to protect wife or female live-in partner at the hands of the husband or male live-in partner or his relatives, the law also extends its protection to women living in a household such as sisters, widows or mothers from domestic violence-definition being broad and including not only physical violence, but also other forms of violence such as emotional/verbal, sexual, and economic abuse.

           Domestic violence under the act includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economic. Any form of harassment, coercion, harm to health, safety, limb or well-being is covered.

               Physical abuse: Defined as act or conduct that is of such a nature as to cause bodily pain, harm, or danger to life, limb or health or impair the health or development of the aggrieved person’. Physical abuse also includes assault, criminal intimidation and criminal force.
         Sexual abuse: The legislation defines this as conduct of “sexual nature” that ‘abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the dignity of a woman.’
          Verbal and Emotional abuse: Insults/ ridicule of any form, including those with regard to inability to have a male child, as well as repeated threats.
          Economic abuse: Categorized as including deprivation of financial resources required for survival of the victim and her children, the disposing of any assets which the victim has an interest/stake in and prohibition/restriction of financial resources which the victim is used to while in the domestic relationship.

                            The Supreme Court, Lalita Toppo vs The State of Jharkhand and Anr observed that a live-in partner can seek maintenance under the provisions of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

The Supreme Court(SC) in Velusamy(2010) case held that;

The expression ‘domestic relationship’ includes not only the relationship of marriage but also a relationship ‘in the nature of marriage’ like a live-in relationship. Relationship in the nature of marriage is akin to common law marriage. Not all live-in relationships will amount to a relationship in the nature of marriage to get the benefit of the Act. The court further stated certain conditions to get the benefit of the Act.

  •  The couple must hold themselves out to society as being akin to the spouse
  • They must be of legal age to marry
  • They must have voluntarily cohabited and held themselves out to the world as being akin to spouses for a significant period of time
  • They must be otherwise qualified to enter into a legal marriage, including being unmarried.

                             SC says woman can file a complaint against ex-husband under domestic violence law even after divorce. The Supreme Court(2018) has upheld. ‘domestic relationship’ includes “consanguinity, marriage, a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or as family members living together as a joint family”. The absence of subsisting domestic relationship in no manner prevents the court from granting certain reliefs specified under the Act,”

                      In Satish Chander Ahuja vs Sneha Ahuja, the court observed that there is a need for a broad reading of “shared household” and residence rights. The SC, therefore, held that residence rights were not limited to situations where the shared household was joint family property or belonged to the husband; has clearly espoused that a wife has the right to residence even if the house not owned by the spouse.


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