Divorce Procedure in France - Assisting foreigners

Divorce Procedure in France

Updated on Saturday 17th December 2022

Rate this article

based on 9 reviews.

The divorce process in France involves certain steps and may have financial consequences for  individuals. When deciding to end a marriage in France, couples should know that there are several types of divorce in France: a contested type, two amicable types and one type for extensive separation. Our French lawyers can help you if you are going through a divorce procedure in France.
With a vast knowledge in French Family Law matters, our lawyers can help local and foreign citizens through every stage of the divorce procedure, including child custody (where applicable) and division of assets.

Types of divorce in France

There are 5 types of divorce procedures in France, the last one being added a few years ago. These are:
  1. the divorce by mutual consent where both spouses agree to end the marriage amicably;
  2. the accepted divorce where parties agree on the separation as a consequence of a broken marriage;
  3. the contested divorce where one of the parties starts the divorce procedure by filing a petition with the court;
  4. the divorce for prolonged separation which occurs when one of the spouses has left the conjugal home;
  5. the divorce by mutual consent without a judge which is the latest and simplest form of ending a marriage outside the court.
The first type of divorce in France is the one by mutual consent. In this case, spouses need to agree on every aspect of the divorce procedure before they submit a petition to the judge (custody, division of assets, visiting rights etc.). This is the simplest form of divorce in France and the parties need to draft an agreement that covers all the aspects of the divorce and its consequences.
Our French divorce attorneys can offer support no matter the type of divorce procedure one decides for. We can also counsel both spouses in case they want a mutual divorce without a judge. If you need notary services we can put you in touch with our foreign partners.

The amicable divorce procedure in France

The easiest way of terminating a marriage in France was introduced in 2016, when the authorities simplified the separation procedure that no longer required a court of justice to rule in favor of the divorce. According to our divorce lawyers in France, the parties must draft a document where all the matters related to the separation are agreed on. The document must include the personal and patrimonial issues of the divorce related to the residence of the spouses, the residence of the children, the spouse allowance and the child alimony and support, as well as any other decision related to the division of assets, property and debts.
A few aspects to consider when going through a mutual divorce outside the court are related to the fact that each party must be represented by a lawyer and the agreement must be drafted and signed by the parties and their French speaking divorce lawyers. All the points of the documents must be agreed upon point by point. Here are other details to consider:
  1. Between the date of the drafting of the document and signing the agreement, the spouses will have a 15-day recess during which each spouse can advise with their lawyer.
  2. Once the period has ended and the agreement was signed, one of the lawyers will have the documents notarized by a public notary in France.
  3. Starting with the day of the notarization, the divorce is completed. Our divorce lawyers in France can guide you through the simplified divorce procedure which can be concluded within one month if every aspect is clarified.
This type of divorce procedure can now be reduced if the parties agree not to go before a judge. However, it is important to know that if a minor child of the spouses asks to be heard by the judge, the procedure will need to be completed in court. In this case, the agreement will be filed with the judge who will approve it, if no other objection arises. Also, a single hearing is sufficient during the amicable court procedure of a divorce in France. In this case, the spouses can use the same lawyer.
If you would like to buy a house in France, you have at hand legal advice offered by our French lawyers. They can draw up the necessary documents for the transaction, namely the sale-purchase agreement that stipulates the name of the seller and the buyer, as well as the price of the respective property. Our clients will have the guarantee that there are no disputes and that they will be able to buy the desired property. Contact our law firm for more information in this regard.

Court proceedings in divorce cases in France

The divorce procedure can also take place on the basis of acceptance that the marriage has broken down. This type of divorce is also called accepted divorce. The parties need to agree that divorce is inevitable and a judge needs to verify if both parties have willingly given their consent. A judge will also pronounce custody rights for the children and resolve other issues like asset management.
A contested or hostile divorce takes place when one party accuses the other of the breakdown suffered in the marriage. This is usually a lengthy procedure and the accusing party will try to prove that the other party is responsible for the ending the marriage. French law encourages spouses reach an amicable agreement and even change the type of divorce, if needed.
A divorce for prolonged separation is possible in France when the couple has lived apart for more than two years. A French judge will pronounce the divorce and establish the consequences.
If you need legal assistance for divorce in France, you may get in touch with our French lawyers. If your divorce is in UK, we can put you in touch with our local partners.

Conciliation in case of divorce in France

Conciliation is required in case the divorce procedure is completed in court, according to the French Family Law. The judge will try to reconcile the spouses during the first hearings and among the measures disposed by the court are mediation and the possibility of for spouses to have separate residences. If reconciliation cannot help the couple, the judge will then:
  •  decide on the spouse to use the conjugal home (the parent entrusted with the children’s custody will be allowed to use it in most cases);
  •  decide on the children’s place of residence and custody, as well as alimony and support;
  •  make an estimated inventory of the assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage;
  •  establish the maintenance payment dates and methods, in accordance with the law;
  •  appoint a public notary to draft a liquidation plan of the matrimonial assets of the spouses.


Our law firm in France can offer more information on how court proceedings are completed in case of divorce. Talk to our French speaking divorce lawyer for complete details.

Documents required when filing for divorce in France

Where the divorce reaches court proceedings, the following documents must be prepared by the spouses:
  •  the identification papers of both spouses;
  •  the residence permit of one or both spouses, if they are foreign citizens living in France;
  •  the family record book, if the marriage was registered in France;
  •  the divorce petition;
  •  the agreement drafted by the spouses;
  •  information about the property and assets of the spouses;
  •  information about the income of each spouse;
  •  information about the children (where applicable);
  •  the prenuptial contract (if any).


You can also rely on our attorneys in France for divorce proceedings if you are a foreign citizen living legally in France.

How is the divorce procedure completed in France?

Irrespective of the causes that have led to a divorce in France, an important step is the division of property after divorce. The divorce procedure includes the liquidation of the matrimonial regime and the division of the assets acquired during the time of the marriage. The matrimonial regime in France comprises a series of legal provisions for spouses that help them govern their financial relations during and after the end of the marriage.

Short details about custody after a divorce procedure in France

According to the Family Law in France, children are protected in the case of divorce. The French authorities sustain the rights of children after separation, and normally, joint custody is the proper solution. This means that both parents will have to act in the best interest of minors, in terms of education, living conditions, and more. We also mention that the parent with higher incomes must offer child support until 18 years of age. Our French speaking divorce lawyer can tell you more about custody and divorce procedure.
Here are also some facts and figures about divorce and marriage in France:
  • More than 62,000 divorce cases were registered in France in 2018.
  • The divorce rate in France rose by 40% in the past decade.
  • Same-sex marriage is legal in France since 2013, more than 4,000 being registered in 2020.
  • Nearly 148,000 marriages have been registered in France in 2020.

FAQ about divorce in France

1. Is divorce by mutual consent accepted in France?
Yes, the divorce by mutual consent is a preferred separation procedure by spouses who want to separate not before agreeing on all aspects. If you believe this is the right type of divorce for you, please feel free to get in touch with our French speaking divorce lawyer.
2. What is a contested divorce in France?
A contested divorce involves one of the spouses who files a petition with the court of law asking for separation. This type of divorce might prolong for a couple of years if spouses do not agree on the terms.
3. What is the amicable procedure for a divorce in France?
According to Family Law, divorce through the amicable procedure is possible in France. Both spouses need to be represented by a divorce lawyer in France, however, there is no need to be present in the court of law. Parties involved need to agree on each aspect related to their marriage: asset distribution, child custody, and alimony, etc.
4. What is the accepted marriage in France?
The accepted divorce is based on the agreement of spouses that the marriage is broken and cannot be repaired. The mutual consent in this direction is normally verified by a judge who will also decide on child custody and rights of the parents in this direction.
5. Can I file for a divorce after separation?
Yes, this is known as a divorce for prolonged separation. Couples who no longer live together for more than two years can file for this type of divorce. You can discuss further details with our French speaking divorce lawyer.
6. Is reconciliation required before a divorce in France?
Yes, in the divorce goes in the court of law, the judge will propose a reconciliation period and mediation. If these are not possible, the divorce procedure will take place. You can be represented by a French speaking divorce lawyer if you want to separate.
7. Who decides on custody and alimony for children in a divorce procedure in France?
Normally, spouses must act in the best interest of children and decide on custody and alimony. If they cannot agree, the judge will decide on their behalf.
8. Is the distribution of mutual assets involved in any type of divorce procedure in France?
Yes, spouses must agree on the division of mutual properties at the time they file for a divorce. One of our French speaking divorce lawyers can provide complete legal support in this matter.
9. Is a divorce procedure in France time-consuming?
Normally, divorce by mutual consent can be managed relatively fast. On the other hand, if spouses do not agree on terms, the separation might prolong for a while, and in some cases for a few years.
10. Should I hire the services of a French speaking divorce lawyer?
Yes, we strongly recommend you discuss the separation with our French speaking divorce lawyer and see how you can be helped from a legal point of view. We are here to represent your interests in order to benefit from the best possible results.

Choose our French speaking divorce lawyer

The divorce procedure might get complicated for those who do not have a clear picture of the legislation. This is where our French divorce attorneys can represent individuals interested in separation in France. We have a dedicated team of lawyers in France with experience in matters related to Family Law, therefore, you can completely rely on our support. The divorce procedure in France is not complicated if you comply with the formalities and get help from a specialist. Feel free to discuss all the legal matters with our divorce lawyers in France and be informed about all the aspects right from the start.
Please contact our law firm in France for other legal issues or more information about the Family Law in France.