Marriage has religious and cultural significance in Nepal. Marriage is a bond that creates a specific type of social relationship in our culture. Marriage and the traditions that surround it have been critical in preserving long-standing social norms and beliefs.
Marriages are performed in a variety of ways in our society. It has a clear connection to community, religion, and caste. Family marriages hold a special place in our society.
In recent years, our society has embraced both legal marriages and the acceptance of love marriages in a similar manner.
Marriage is the social and legal foundation for two people in our society to live together. Married couples share housing arrangements to meet their family’s needs and for social reasons. In today’s society, however, marriage is not required to meet one’s needs.
In the Western world, the concept of “living together” has evolved, and it has been successful in dispelling the myth that two people must marry in order to coexist. The concept of living together has demonstrated that two individuals can live together without complexity by fulfilling responsibilities other than those resulting from marriage.
The world is quickly adopting this trend, which is believed to have originated in Western nations, and Nepali culture is not far behind in its embrace of coexistence. Living together is becoming increasingly important in today’s society; in some countries, it is even legal.
Even in Nepal, there are discussions about legalizing it. But, just as living together is now considered unethical in society, love marriage was 20 years ago.
We’ll have to wait and see if our culture necessitates legal recognition as well. As a result, in today’s article, we’ll discuss living together and the legal issues that come with it.
A legal definition of Marriage in Nepal
A marriage is deemed to have occurred if a man and a woman accept each other as husband and wife through any event, ceremony, formal, or other act, according to Article 67 of the current Civil Code, 2074 BS.
Similarly, Article 68 of the same Act states, “Marriage is a permanent, inviolable, and holy social and legal bond founded on free consent and established to initiate conjugal and family life between a man and a woman.””
Meaning of Cohabiting (Living Together): Living together is the act of living together with the permission of cohabitation to rely on each other’s obligations to each other.
Is living together and paying a guest the same thing?
There are some distinctions to be made between cohabiting and living together as a guest. In Living Together, for example, it is agreed upon to engage in sexual activity. It may not be consent to live as a paying guest, as a guest, or in any other way share a home or apartment.
Living together is increasingly being regarded as an informal or temporary marriage, and legislation to that effect is being considered.
Are marriage and cohabitation the same thing?
Under Nepal’s current legal definition, marriage and cohabitation are not equivalent. However, the law has made the connection between the two clear.
According to Article 74 of the 2074 Civil Code, “if a woman is found to have conceived and given birth to a child through physical contact with a man, such marriage shall be deemed to have occurred automatically.”
This is true even though the definitions above only recognize marriage and make no mention of cohabitation. This provision seeks to connect marriage and living together in some way.
Is it legal to live together in Nepal?
Living Together has not yet been the subject of separate legislation in Nepal, but it is clear from Article 74 of the Civil Code of 2074 that it has received legal recognition. According to Article 74 of the 2074 Civil Code, “if a woman is found to have conceived and given birth to a child through physical contact with a man, such marriage shall be deemed to have occurred automatically.”
This means that if a child is born while a man and a woman are in physical contact, the law seeks to encompass both the child and the relationship that has been established in this manner.
However, it should not be assumed that every child born in this manner is the result of a cohabitation connection. A baby can be born when a woman is sexually abused, when a man and a woman engage in sexual activity to satisfy their sexual desires, or when they engage in romantic activity.
As a result, even though this legal rule does not expressly mention living together, the law requires that such a relationship automatically become marriage after the birth of a child.
What are the rights of a child born in these circumstances?
The legal rights of a child born through physical interaction will not be affected because such a relationship will automatically become marriage after the birth of a child through physical interaction. Like:
The mother or father of a baby will be used to determine the child’s maternity or paternity.
The baby’s name will be determined by his or her mother’s or father’s religion, culture, customs, and traditions.
The child will know who his or her parents, grandparents, grandfather, and grandfather are.
The child’s birth must be documented.
The parents will be jointly responsible for the child’s care.
The mother or father is responsible for the child.
The child will receive the love and support
What challenges do cohabiting couples face?
Cohabitation in living together is simple, but when a relationship is abusive, it can cause a slew of problems. When a couple first starts dating, they have wonderful, consensual sex.
However, as the relationship deteriorates, this type of sexual behavior begins to cause issues.
The negative effects of living together disproportionately affect women, according to the Women’s Commission. Acts such as forcing a man to leave a pregnant woman, forcing her to have several abortions, getting remarried, and using violence constitute crime when a woman has sex with a man who has always agreed to live together and marry later.
Offenses such as threatening to use videos and images recorded while living together, negotiating for large sums of money, and publishing such photos and videos to porn sites as retaliation are common in Nepali society.
Aside from that, Living Together has made public topics such as having sex while the relationship is positive and filing a complaint after the relationship ends. Living together was simple at first, but the Women’s Commission claims that it has caused a number of problems over time.
Can a victim of cohabitation seek redress in Court?
There is no provision in Nepal for a man or woman who suffers from such a relationship to seek legal redress because there is no legislation governing living together.
Article 74 of the Civil Code of 2074 protects some of the rights of children and women born from such relationships.
Using this provision, the aggrieved woman at the very least receives a spouse, and the child born receives a father and a family. However, legislation to address the violence in the Living Together community will almost certainly be enacted.
Where can victims of Living Together file a complaint?
Because there are no legal provisions, victims of such situations have no place to file a formal complaint. The Women’s Commission, on the other hand, has been shown to register and investigate complaints in order to resolve similar conflicts in the case of women.
Domestic violence (Offense and Punishment) Act of 2066 allows victims of such relationships to file a complaint with the police department, the National Women’s Commission, or at the local level, regardless of where the victim lives or where the perpetrators are, including the village, municipality, or ward committee of the municipality where the incident occurred. The same law also allows victims to file a complaint directly with the relevant district court upon request.
Is Domestic Violence Involved in Cohabitation?
The Domestic Violence (Offense and Punishment) Act of 2066 defines “Domestic Violence” as any form of physical, mental, sexual, or economic harm perpetrated by a person against a person with whom he or she has a family relationship, as well as any acts of reprimand or emotional harm.
Similarly, a “domestic relationship” is defined as a relationship between two or more people who live in the same household and are related by descent (consanguinity), marriage, adoption, or are family members living together as a joint family; or a dependent domestic help living in the same family. According to this definition, violence in Living Together is also considered domestic violence.
Although the Supreme Court has not established a clear precedent on living together, it was stated in detail in the decision number 6588 that Annapurna Rana v. Gorakh Samsher JV,2055 BS.
Examining a woman’s vagina and uterus does not indicate that she is married, the respected Supreme
Court ruled, despite the case being connected to the Manachamal dispute.
Even if they appear to act like husband and wife in terms of sexual interactions and other aspects, they do not appear to be capable of living peacefully together for an extended period of time without the marriage.
The time has come for society to recognize this. If a girl and a boy are still living as boyfriend and girlfriend, it is impossible to say that they are married.
Society is hesitant to accept a girl as a legal wed if her parents have not legally married her.
Being married and losing your virginity are two separate issues. From a legal standpoint, the same holds true. It cannot be assumed that she is married because she lost her virginity.
Whether to abstain or engage in sexual interaction is a personal decision, especially in light of the rapidly changing social context. Someone may be acting in this manner in secret or in public.
Such intercourse has no legal ramifications for women. Some people may have had sexual relations before legally marrying, and they can still relate to each other as husband and wife.
The women in question are questioned about their character, legality, and are depicted as harmful to society.
This type of premarital sex cannot be justified solely on marital status in today’s modern culture, which is increasingly sleek and places a high value on personal liberty, and it does not automatically imply that a girl’s relationship with her parents has broken down.
The legality or paternity of a child born to a woman without marriage may also be challenged; thus, a child born to a woman who is not married to a specific man will be entitled to a share of the mother’s property only if the father’s address is unknown.
However, there is no need to continue debating it because the legitimacy of the child may be at stake.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Alpana Bhandari is a founding partner and CEO of Prime Legal Consultants and Research Center. She graduated from American University Washington College of Law. She specializes in corporate/arbitration and family law.