The Madras High court has ruled that observation of formalities as per the religious customs is not mandatory to constitute a valid marriage..The decision was given by Justice C.S. Karnan in an appeal against the judgment of a Family court in Coimbatore..According to The Hindu, the case pertained to a maintenance claim involving a Muslim couple. The lower court had ordered the respondent to pay maintenance to his children but not the appellant woman as there was no evidence to prove that the two were legally wedded. An appeal against this decision was adjudicated by the High Court..The High Court modified the decision of the lower court while observing that,.“It is not disputed that the petitioner has been a spinster before she gave birth and that the respondent was a bachelor before developing sexual relationship with the petitioner. Both of them led their marital life under the same shelter and begot two children. Therefore, the petitioner’s rank has been elevated as the ‘wife’ of the respondent and likewise, the respondent’s rank has been elevated as the ‘husband’ of the petitioner. Therefore, the children born to them are legitimate children and the petitioner is the legitimate wife of the respondent.”.The Court also ruled that, “if any couple chooses to consummate their sexual cravings, then that act becomes a total commitment with adherence to all consequences that may follow, except certain considerations” and “marriage formalities as per the respective religious customs, viz, tying of mangalsutra, exchange of garlands and rings or registering the marriage was only to comply with religious customs for the satisfaction of society”..The Court further said that “if after having a sexual relationship, the couple decided to separate due to difference of opinion, the ‘husband’ could not marry without getting a decree of divorce from the ‘wife’.” The Court also considered the fact that man had signed the ‘live birth report’ of one of his children and given his consent for a Caesarean section for its birth..It, therefore, directed the respondent to pay the woman a monthly maintenance of Rs. 500 from the date of the petition within 3 months..The judgment comes in the wake of intense debates on whether a strict proof of marriage is necessary for providing maintenance. Also, whether a live-in relationship would raise the presumption of a valid marriage thereby entitling the woman to maintenance is still under the consideration of the Supreme Court. .Image taken from here.