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Getting a divorce in France

Updated: Sep 10, 2022

An explanation of the procedures for gathering the necessary paperwork, the prerequisites for filing for divorce in France, and what to anticipate.

As long as you or your spouse resides in France, you are eligible for a divorce (divorce). It is better to apply to the court in the nation where your children reside if you have dual citizenship; if you don't have children, you should apply in the nation where your primary residence is. French courts may not be able to terminate a same-sex union if it was established outside of France. You may have to go back there to finish filing for divorce there. Here is a guide on filing the necessary papers for a divorce when a marriage dissolves.

French divorce regulations

Divorce par consentement mutuel (divorce by mutual consent) occurs when both spouses agree to the divorce and come to an agreement on all pertinent matters, such as child custody and asset distribution. Before submitting the paperwork to the high court, an agreement must be drafted by a lawyer (avocat) and signed by both parties (Tribunal de Grande Instance).

A divorce accepté (divorce accepted) is an option when a couple acknowledges that a divorce is necessary but is unable to agree. Any disputed matters will be decided by the court in this case. French courts nearly usually attempt to reach a compromise with the couple. This could make everything take longer.

Finally, neither spouse needs the approval of the other to petition for divorce. If the other spouse still objects to the divorce, a court decides the matter and establishes the conditions. Only in this unusual situation is it required to provide evidence supporting a divorce.

These situations may be classified as either at-fault divorces or separations lasting two years or more (altération définitive du lien conjugal) (divorce pour faute). In the latter scenario, the divorcing spouse must demonstrate that the other person was responsible for the breakdown of the marriage; this is often done via infidelity, desertion, or cruelty. The court will likely find one party or the other at blame in this situation and may award damages.

Processing a French divorce

File documents with the court in the district where one or both parties reside to begin the procedure. Find the mairie's contact information in your area (town hall).

Divorce with mutual consent The mutuel divorce process is the shortest and easiest. Processing may take as little as a month. The average time from beginning to end is three to six months. The procedure ends with a court hearing when both spouses are required to appear.

The partition of assets is often overseen by a notary (notaire). One percent of the asset's total value is the typical charge. The fee, for instance, would be €4,000 if a couple had a combined wealth of €1.0 million but only €400,000 of that is property owned in common and so shared.

Documentation

Whatever evidence the court considers essential may be sought. Be prepared to provide:

● Identification;

● data on residency permits;

● Unless you were married or had children in France, you may not have a family record book (livret de famille);

● formal divorce petition - copies of these letters are available online only in French;

● agreement on how to handle developing difficulties;

● if there is a pre-marital contract (contrat de mariage),

● information on taxes, property, and income;

● details about any children.

● standard property division

Acquisitions of property made during a marriage are by default held in common (régime légal de communauté réduite aux acquêts). It is not true of property obtained after the marriage. This implies that assets acquired before marriage, as well as gifts and inheritances, are often not included in the definition of joint assets. Commonly, joint assets are divided in half.

If one spouse is considerably worse off after the divorce—for instance, if one spouse worked while the other took care of the children—compensation (prestation compensatoire) is sometimes granted. Joint property is not taken into account in this computation. The payment is often made in one big amount. The amount is often 25–35% of the salary of the spouse with more resources.

However, it's uncommon but conceivable for the court to declare that the ordinary property laws of the nation in which you resided immediately after the marriage will apply if you spent a sufficient amount of time there (generally one year or more).

French residency and citizenship

Since France is a member of the European Union (EU), people from the EU may stay there after a divorce without needing permission.

Divorce may have an impact on your eligibility to remain in France if you are from outside of the EU and your residence status is dependent on your spouse's employment. To find out whether you qualify for another French resident permit, see our guide to French visas.

Your residence won't be impacted if you have your residency permit, which is usually the case if you have work. Learn more about work permits in France.

Divorcing a French citizen might delay a continuing application for French citizenship, although marriage to a French person does not immediately grant you French citizenship. See more information about obtaining French citizenship.

Children

After a divorce, both parents are still accountable for their children. Additionally, they both uphold some rights. Consultation is to be expected for major choices, such as the child's residence.

In reality, courts often want to promote stability, therefore the residence habituelle (residence usual) of a kid is important. Joint custody, when a kid often alternates between homes, is conceivable but uncommon.

Even if the non-custodial parent makes substantially less money than the custodial parent, they should expect to pay the latter's living expenses until the kid turns 18 or completes a full course of study. You may find an example calculator online (French only).

By what name?

As a default, couples take on their pre-marriage names. The name that the child had throughout the marriage is retained. This tendency can be changed, but doing so should be negotiated as part of the divorce settlement. For instance, both spouses' names should be stated in the divorce documents and approved by the court for use after the divorce. The court will presume that each will resume using their original names. After that, you shouldn't need to submit any extra documentation to get a new passport or driver's license.


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