French Family Law

Family Law in France

Updated on Thursday 08th April 2021

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The French Family Law governs all family related issues and domestic relations. Marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships are regulated by this law and also matters regarding adoption, custody, child support, child abuse and child abduction. Getting a divorce or getting married in France is not complex, but couples need to follow the rules regarding the documents. Our lawyers in France can tell you more about these aspects and can represent you in any case.

Marriage in France


In order to be legally married in France, the partners must perform the civil marriage ceremony. A religious ceremony can be performed afterwards, but it will not be legally binding. Alternatively, partners can sign a civil solidarity pact (PACS), a contractual form of civil union between two adults, including same-sex partners. In case of marriage, prenuptial agreements may be drawn up by a notary before the wedding. Here is essential information about getting married in France:
  • Partners must be at least 18 years of age for getting married in France.
  • A certificate of celibacy is solicited as part of the marriage documents. Divorce papers from a previous marriage are also accepted.
  • Both future spouses must present a medical certificate.
  • Foreign couples getting married in France need a notarized Affidavit of Law translated into French.
All the documents necessary for marriage must be translated into French before submitting them to the entitled authorities. One of our French lawyers can verify the documents and offer legal advice for a simplified marriage process.

Types of divorces

There are several types of divorce procedures available in France: by mutual consent, accepted, contested (or hostile) and for prolonged separation. Divorces in France usually consist of two procedures:
  •  the order of the divorce, followed by the determination of the custody of the children and the amount of child support - performed by a French judge;
  •  the division of assets - performed by a French notary.
The mutual divorce is based on an agreed consent by both spouses. Parties involved need to agree on the division of assets, custody, alimony, and visiting rights). Once these aspects are correctly concluded and accepted, the divorce procedure can take place.
In the case of the amicable divorce procedure in France, couples benefit from the simplest separation, in terms of formalities. A document with information about the separation of spouses and agreed aspects is needed when adopting the amicable procedure. If you need legal guidance on this topic, feel free to talk to our French attorneys.
Our French lawyers can help you with legal representation or counseling if you want to apply for divorce in France

Family law regarding children in France

In case of divorce or separation, the court will decide the parent’s custody rights. This decision is made in the best interest of the child. Child custody in France is of two types:
  • legal custody: the right of the parents to decide upon the child’s upbringing, education and property; generally, parents are given joint custody.
  • physical custody: the child’s place of residence with one of the parents; the parents can also have joint physical custody.
Usually, the parent who has the larger income will be ordered by court to provide child support in France until the child has come of age. Our attorneys in France can provide more information about child custody and the parent’s legal duties.According to the French adoption law, adoption may be petitioned by married couples or single individuals. The adoption process in France consists of two steps: an administrative procedure and a judicial procedure. 

Are prenups accepted in France?

Yes, couples can consider pre-nuptial agreements before getting married in France. This kind of document is referred to as a marriage contract and is a guarantee that personal belongings are protected in the case of a divorce. A pre-nuptial arrangement can comprise all the information about the personal assets and the ways they can be handled in the case of separation. This kind of prenup must be authenticated by a public notary. You can discuss with one of our French lawyers if you want to know more about the preparation of a prenup from a legal point of view.

Is same-sex marriage possible in France?

Yes, France accepts same-sex marriages since 2013, when the French Family Law was modified in this sense. Couples of the same sex can enter a civil partnership and then can get married if this is the intention. Feel free to discuss further details with one of our French attorneys and see how they can help you from a legal point of view.

Is adoption of children available in France?

Yes, the French Family Law mentions the adoption procedures available, with the mention that the legal representative of the minor is about to be adopted, must sign a consent in this matter. Here are other essential aspects to consider:
  • Couples married for at least 2 years can commence the adoption procedures.
  • Same-sex couples in France can also adopt children, as the legislation in this sense has been promulgated in 2013.
  • Even non-married couples can adopt children in France, and especially one of the partners who needs to meet different conditions.
  • The President of the Conseil General issued the required approvals for child adoption in France.
Interested in adoption in France? Our French attorneys can tell you more about the provisions of the French Family Law, will offering the necessary legal advice.

Arbitration in France

According to the French Family Law, the arbitration method is not a solution for solving family-related problems. Therefore, arbitration is not possible for divorce in France. However, some aspects related to patrimonial rights can be managed with the help of arbitration. Feel free to discuss more arbitration in France with one of our advisors.

Choosing our lawyers in France

Our French lawyers have experience in a wide range of family matters. The provisions of the Family Law in France can be discussed with our experienced attorneys at any time, regardless of the problems presented. Support for divorce, marriage, child custody, or adoption can be provided to both French nationals and foreigners, so make sure you send your inquiries to us when deciding to collaborate with our advisors. Here are some facts and figures about divorce and marriage rates in France:
  1. More than 62,000 divorce cases were registered in France in 2018, according to
  2. Statistics say that most marriages in France last around 7 years.
  3. Nearly 235,000 marriages were registered in France in 2018.
Our law firm in France can help you with more information regarding family law in France and any detailed information about specific requirements for marriage, divorce or child care in France. Please contact us for more details.