Domestic Relationships(Inference of domestic relationship)


What is a Domestic Relationship?

Section 2(f) of the DV Act defines “domestic relationship”, extending its ambit to “relationship in the nature of marriage” and thus extending its protection to women whose marriage are invalid or void under law, or who haven’t gone through a formal marriage with their partners (live-in relationships) but are otherwise as good as a married couple.

SA to bring in Clare's Law for partners to get access to domestic violence criminal history - ABC News


What is the Difference between Live-In relationships and Relationships in the Nature of Marriage?

It was cleared by the Supreme Court that merely spending weekends together or one-night stands, exchanging sexual favors in return for financial favors are not considered to be “relationship in nature of marriage”. In Indra Sarma v. V.K.V Sarma, the Supreme Court differentiated between a relationship in the nature of marriage and a live-in relationship. The Supreme Court gave eight factors that should be considered while deciding whether a relationship can be covered as one in the nature of marriage:

  1. Duration of a relationship: a reasonable period of time. It may vary from case to case and fact to fact.
  2. Shared Household
  3. Pooling resources and shared financial arrangements
  4. Domestic Arrangements
  5. Sexual Relationship
  6. Children
  7. Public Socialization
  8. Intention and conduct

Brief History of Domestic Relations Law



The legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, united in law for life, or until divorced. The word also signifies the act, ceremony, or formal proceeding by which persons take each other for husband and wife.

The legal separation of husband and wife, effected by the judgment or decree of a court, and either totally dissolving the marriage relation, or suspending its effects so far as it concerns the cohabitation of the parties.

A term formerly applied to marriage between persons of different races. Statutes prohibiting marriage between persons of different races have been held to be invalid as contrary to the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

The offense of having several wives or husbands at the same time, or more than one wife or husband at the same time. Polygamy is a crime in all states.

Family Law in Modern America

Domestic relations law is just another name for family law. Yet, this area of the law extends beyond merely the family. Rather, it deals with the laws governing the familial relationship, which has changed substantially over the years.

The traditional ideal of the “nuclear family,” made up of a married couple raising their 2.2 children, is fading, down from 40 percent of all households in 1970 to less than 25 percent in 2000. Even the U.S. Supreme Court has acknowledged that “demographic changes . . . make it difficult to speak of an average American family.” See Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 64 (2000).

Since this area of law touches on so many substantive subject areas, to be well versed in family law, one must consult various sources to determine the solution to some particularly vexing situations


Sources of Family Law

Family law emanates from five sources:

  1. Each state’s statutory and constitutional law.
  2. United States Constitution.
  3. Federal law directly addressing family-law matters, ranging from child support enforcement to interstate custody disputes.
  4. Tax and welfare laws, both federal and state, provide or withhold benefits on the basis of marital status, dependency, and family configuration.
  5. Regulation, such as zoning laws (e.g., restricting a large proportion of living space to “single-family” uses).

Yet, despite the variety of sources regulating family law subjects, family law remains overwhelmingly in the hands of the states, less because of constitutional barriers to federal intervention than because of longstanding wariness on the part of federal legislators and judges to enter the thicket of family regulation. Given that marriage involves an institution of public interest, states may regulate this type of conduct.

An example of state regulation involves the formalities involved in obtaining a marriage license. Historically, before couples were granted a marriage license, a blood test or other health examination of both parties (to screen for sexually transmitted diseases) was often required as a prerequisite. Today, the number of states requiring blood tests has declined.

Inference of domestic relationship – Domestic relationship can be inferred between the parties who have shared household and consensual sex.

Violence affects 60% of teen relationships and 150 young people were killed by partners in 13 years | Daily Mail Online

Indra Sarma vs V.K.V.Sarma on 26 November, 2013

In order to examine as to whether there has been any act, omission, or commission or conduct so as to constitute domestic violence, it is necessary to examine some of the definition clauses under Section 2 of the DV Act. Section 2(a) of the DV Act defines the expression “aggrieved person” as follows:

“2(a). “Aggrieved person” means any woman who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the respondent and who alleges to have been subjected to any act of domestic violence by the respondent.” Section 2(f) defines the expression “domestic relationship” as follows:

“2(f). “Domestic relationship” means a relationship between two persons who live or have, at any point of time, lived together in a shared household, when they are related by consanguinity, marriage, or through a relationship in the nature of marriage, adoption or are family members living together as a joint family.” Section 2(q) defines the expression “respondent” as follows:

“2(q). “Respondent” means any adult male person who is, or has been, in a domestic relationship with the aggrieved person and against whom the aggrieved person has sought any relief under this Act:

one couple man and woman domestic violence - De Rebus

b) Domestic relationship between an unmarried woman and a married adult male: Situations may arise when an unmarried adult women knowingly enters into a relationship with a married adult male. The question is whether such a relationship is a relationship “in the nature of marriage” so as to fall within the definition of Section 2(f) of the DV Act.

c) Domestic relationship between a married adult woman and an unmarried adult male: Situations may also arise where an adult married woman, knowingly enters into a relationship with an unmarried adult male, the question is whether such a relationship would fall within the expression relationship “in the nature of marriage”.


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