It is common knowledge that Gautami and Kamal Hassan split in Oct. 2016 after a 13-year live-in relationship. Yesterday (Feb 24, 2018) she published an eloquently worded article on her blog distancing herself from Kamal. Eloquent because there is much to read between the lines, but that research aside, I would like to focus on the financial aspects of the article and the associated dangers of a live-in relationship.
Before we begin, while I shall quote from Gautami’s article, I have no interest to talk about both individuals, their respective children or their choices. Please view this issue from the financial security of an individual after a split from a committed relationship, but without legal sanction.
Here is the only quote from the article relevant to this post:
The period since my walking out has been consumed by my efforts to rebuild a stable and secure environment for my daughter and myself. An environment where we could breathe free of the stress and tension of a greatly traumatic situation.
My single greatest focus during this period has been to establish a stable income to ensure my child’s financial stability. During the nearly thirteen years of our life together, the work that I did as Costume Designer, was only for films produced by Raajkamal Films International, (RKFI), and for films that Mr. Haasan made for other producers. And this was my primary source of income as my working both in front of and behind the camera in other’s projects was actively discouraged. In addition to this, it grieves me greatly to have to say that as of October, 2016, I had salary dues pending right from earlier films like Dasavataram, Vishwaroopam, etc.
As these pending salary dues were the only financial resource at the time for rebuilding my life, I had made repeated efforts to recover the payments from Mr. Haasan and RKFI. I am deeply anguished to say that inspite of repeated entreaties and requests, there is still a significant amount from my due salary pending payment.
This is one side of the story, we don’t know the other side and in any case, I have no interest in getting judgemental.
Let us use this situation to construct an example:
Say, Tarzan runs a business. He marries Jane and she helps him run the business but does not draw a salary per se. If thing turn sour after a few years and they decide to divorce, what is Jane entitled to?
I am no legal expert and from what little I saw on the web, Jane is entitled to anything from 50% of all assets* and 50% of future income to zero! It depends on the “circumstances” and there is no set rule. However, it is more than a fair assumption that Jane would have secured a fixed alimony component and with some luck a variable alimony component depending on profits as she had played a part in building it (in case of a dispute, Tarzan will have to disprove her role).
* except for ancestral property.
If T & J had multiple properties, it is more than possible that she could get to live in one, post-divorce. The point is fairly obvious. Jane is surely entitled to “some benefit” even if she is capable of earning her own income. It may or may not allow her to spend and live as she did before the divorce, but with a competent divorce lawyer, her financial security will not be in danger.
Now, what if T & J were in a live-in relationship?
If one of them dies, then the other can get control of the full assets. Their children can inherit property as the Supreme court has previously ruled, “Couple living together will be presumed married”. However, this could be contested by other relatives, but there are precedents to quote.
What happens if they break-up? Can Jane ask for maintenance and/or a share in the profits of the business they used to run together? I think it is possible, but it would be a hard battle to fight! Can one use the “presumed married” argument to get support? Grey area!
Legislation for “live-in” relationships is still a work-in-progress in India and seems to move “forward” only if there is an appeal. This is a good read about the challenges
It is clear that couples in a live-in relationship should be very clear about who owns what and ensure their financial independence “just in case”.
Please note, I did not intend this to a “gossip post”. I think this is a real problem that is likley to affect more and more Indians in future. If you know of any case where a partner has won financial support after a break up from a live-in relationship, please share a link in the comments.
If you have legal expertise in the matter, please share your thoughts. Kindly avoid making any comments on Kamal or Gautami’s choices.
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