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Keeping the communication

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Living or not living together

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Financial matters of a divorce or separation

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Your children

PacisLexis Family Law

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To understand all the options you’ve got when getting a divorce or a separation, we recommend you to read this article!

Whatever your citizenship is or the country you live in, getting a divorce or a separation can be an emotionally charged and difficult time.

Whether you’re French and live abroad, your children are French and live in France too, a part of your assets is in France, your partner is French, …. it’s essential to contact a French international family law lawyer to understand your rights and duties.

Thus you could anticipate and organise your separation according to the french laws and its jurisprudence.

The main purpose of this article, written by our team of bilingual lawyers and mediators, is to answer to some questions you may have regarding family laws in France as:

  • How to maintain the communication in a conflictual environment?
  • Can I still live in my house?
  • What are the financial matters regarding divorce and separation in France?
  • Who the children will live with, where they will live and when and how the children will see both parents regarding the French Law?
  • Can I get an allowance for my child or should I pay one?

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Keeping the communication

Why keeping the communication is essential during a separation?

A divorce or a separation can be an emotionally charged and difficult time. It’s harder when communication is broken.

It’s essential for each family member to keep the communication going to avoid misunderstandings and issues.

Indeed, there are several advantages to it:

  • Children are protected
  • Avoiding misunderstandings,
  • Avoiding a dispute process,
  • Each member of the family feels better,
  • it will help you to move on instead of thinking about the pain of a divorce.

Getting separated can be challenging and difficult. Do your best to get a smooth separation or a divorce to protect everyone and with a peace of mind.

How to improve communication in a relationship?

Lots of professionals are trained to sort this out for you.

Mediation offers a good alternative.

Learn more about the mediation process by clicking on the link below:

You could also be trained to a non-aggressive communication. We advise you to read the books from Jacques Salome, ESPERE training session founder.

Thus personal development is challenging when facing a divorce. Loss of bearings, identity, loneliness can lead you to wonder what is going on.

To all my client who wish to, I advice some worldwide bestsellers such as La puissance de l’acceptation  (Lise Bourbeau), La guérison des 5 blessures or Les 5 blessures qui empêchent d’être soi-même. I am also thinking about Christophe Andre’s last book Consolations, celles que l’on reçoit et celles que l’on donne.

A couple therapy can help you resolving some issues. It helps partners to go through a separation or a divorce process.

What to do if you can not communicate with your partner anymore?

A lack of communication is a psychologic way of violence. If you even can not say to each other « Hello », « goodbye », « How’s your day been? », this is where issues are coming up especially for your children.

You must react by seeing a meditor, a therapist, a psychologist or to end the relationship.

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Living or not living together?

Marriage: is it legal for my partner to leave our house regarding the French law?

No, except for domestic abuse!

Regarding the French law, cohabitation is a duty following up your marriage (article 215 du Code civil)

The meaning of cohabitation is a term used to describe unmarried couples who are in a relationship and live together. Regarding the law, marital home is a term used to describe the legal home of a couple.

As it is a legal duty, leaving your marital home, without the judge to statute on this, is a fault.

This can lead to a fault-divorce for the spouse who left and damages allowance.

Other claims can follow-up such as:

  • Order regarding the children’s residence: The spouse who left is unlikely to take care of the children regarding the courts.
  • Order regarding the marital home: The family law Courts will set the children residence where one spouse is still living in.

Exceptional circumstances : domestic abuse

Courts will evaluate the circumstances in which a spouse has left the marital home.

In that saying when co-habitation becomes a nightmare such as domestic abuse, getting away from your home can be a solution.

However, you have to collect evidence of domestic abuse to avoid a fault-divorce.

Try to:

  • warn your spouse you are leaving but without giving your future address,
  • Get evidence of why you are leaving using your neighbours, relatives, or roommates…
  • Report the violence to the police and get legal protection from the court to explain why you are getting away.

In case of physical violence, go the A&E to get a medical certificate. Report the violence to the police and get legal protection or order from the Court.

To learn more about domestic abuse, click on the following link.

To learn more about legal protection from the court, follow the link below.

To learn more about relocate the child from the Court’s jurisdiction without your consent, follow the link below.

Marriage: my spouse has left our marital home what shall I do?

Getting married means, you are forced to a life together.

Therefore, leaving the marital home is a violation of the duty to live together.

You can get a fault divorce by leaving the marital home. 

Several ways exist to prove a home abandonment in France:

– Third party statement: anyone who learned about it can be a witness and can state about the circumstances in which your partner left.

– Bailiff statement: bailiffs can provide a legal statement and come to your house to testify your spouse left the marital home without any kind of notice delivered by Courts.

– Report it to the police or gendarmerie.

French PACS: is it legal to leave your house?

French PACS is described as « a legal union between two people of either sex in France. It states that these two people live together. » (article 515-1 du Code civil).

PACS is not recognizable in some other countries such as the United States. You will be considered as single.

Thus, breaking the rule of living together can lead to damages allowance.

French PACS is a contract. Therefore, both parties can include a condition in which case one or the other can get damages allowance following the breakup. If there is no such condition in that contract your partner could claim damages on the basement of the article 1240 from the French law.

In order to claim damages, you will need to prove how the breakup has wasted your way of living and life added to other brutal circumstances such as a breakup with children, mortgage and so on.

French Partnership: is it legal to leave your house?

There is a difference between the UK civil partnership and a simple partnership in France.

French partnership is not based on a contract as the French PACS, marriage or UK civil partnership.

French partnership is only considered as a physical union. Both partners are free to leave their estate they have together. No paperwork needed.

Therefore, each partner has no legal rights to claim anything at any time regarding the split-up.

French partnership: How about the property rented together in case of a breakup?

When partners get separated, they have several options for their estate or flat they have in common:

–       They can give notice to the landlord,

–       Or one gives notice to the landlord and the other is maintained in the tenancy. In both cases the landlord must know.

=>  In case of a solidarity condition in the tenancy, the partner who decides to leave the property still has to pay the rent and bills.

=> In case the main tenant wants to leave the property, the French law allows the other partner to apply for the current tenancy.

French PACS & marriage: how about the property rented together in case of a breakup?

When partners are getting separated:

–       Either they both cancel the tenancy

–       Or one partner gives notice to the landlord and the other applies for the current tenancy.

Keep in mind that in France:

  • The landlord can ask both tenants to pay the rent or to claim arrears even if you are not on the tenancy and you left the property.
  • The tenant who moved still has to pay the rent until the very last stages of a divorce or separation.
French PACS & marriage: how about the property bought together in case of a breakup?

When spouses (marriage) or partners (French PACS) bought an estate together, they can:

  • Sell the property or estate and share the amount regarding which amount they have equally invested in,
  • A partner can keep the property by paying the shares back.
  • A partner can pay a compensation to the other.

If one partner refuses to sell the property, Courts can decide a sell at auction. The amount is then divided regarding both shares.

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Financial matters after divorce or separation

Marriage: can I get a spousal maintenance?

Yes !

Spousal maintenance aims to help the financially weaker party adjust to their financial position after divorce.

To learn more about spousal maintenance, follow the link below.

La procédure de divorce

Marriage, French PACS & Partnership: can I get children maintenance?


Family law Court can sort the children maintenance out except if a mutual agreement already exists between spouses.

Its amount is based on several conditions regarding both parents’ revenue:

  • Specific bills related to the child (age, health, studies …),
  • Both parents’ monthly revenue,
  • Taxes,
  • Mortgages,
  • Rents


To learn more about children maintenance, follow the link below:


La pension alimentaire

To learn more about enforcement of financial orders, follow the link below:

Les arriérés de pensions alimentaires

How can we sort out our joint accounts?

It is the same whether you’re married, got a French PACS or Partnership.

In case of a joint account:

  • Both partners agree to close this joint account,
  • In the unfortunate situation of a dispute between you, you can cancel the joint account mandate. Neither of you will be able to use the account until the dispute has been settled, and each of you will be held liable for any debt on the account.
  • In France, one of the partner can cancel the joint account mandate: the other one will be therefore the only one to use it.


In case of joint ownership account ( this does not exist in England or in USA )

If you wish to close a joint ownership account, then both parties need to agree. If there are any regular payments on the account, or any debt to be paid off, you will need to decide how these will be settled before the account can be closed.

My partner has access to my bank account. What can I do?

In France, you have to consider 2 options:

– Your partner has access to your private bank account

– You have a joint account

Having a joint bank account is the same as having your own, except two people have control over the account, including any arranged overdraft.

In France, your partner can have access to your private account following a ‘proxy’.

In the UK, if a bank customer is mentally capable, then a third-party mandate can be put in place to allow another person access to their bank accounts. In France a third-party mandate can be put in place if you are married.

This proxy or third party can:

·       arrange and cancel any payments on the account e.g. standing orders, Direct Debits, Chaps payments

·       have a debit card, cheque book and a pay-in book

A spouse can cancel the mandate at any time.

We have a family pet? What can we do?

Currently article 528 of France’s civil code, which forms the basis for the country’s laws, states that animals are classed as “personal property”.

Since the 16th of February 2015 law, they are considered as “sensitive beings”.

Therefore the person who bought the animal and to whom it is registered will keep it.

The only exception is if there is clear evidence that the animal was subsequently gifted to the other party.

In case of disagreement, family law Courts can statute on the family pet matters (Civ 1ère, 20 novembre 2013, n°12-29.174).

We have bought a car together. Can I keep it?


But surely you will have to pay your partner back in case of joint payment.

You could then remove the name of your ex-partner from the registration certificate.

What should you do regarding the french civil service in case of a separation or divorce?

Protecting your assets

During a separation, relationships between partners or spouses can be tough and require protecting your assets.

Making or keeping a list of furniture and belongings can avoid numbers of arguments.

A French Bailiff can also do this for you after they visit your house regarding evidence you will have to provide (invoices, pictures, house insurance…).

An administrative agent can help you out if further investigation is needed.


Update your French universal credit and other social benefits

In France, there is lots of sort benefits you can get as in the UK.

The spouse, partner who gets social benefits has to report any change in his circumtances asap.The organisation in charge will recalculate the financial help.

Social benefits are such :


Update your tax circomstances

Any change in your personal circumstances must be provided immediately to the tax people.

Indeed, in the UK on your payslip you will only see 3 lines: Tax, national insurance and in case pension contributions. In France, saying this is far more complicated is an understatement.

Getting separated involves a chane in your family tax contribution regarding your revenue.

In case of children maintenance, you will have to tell the amount to the tax people whether you are getting paid or if you are paying it.

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Your children

Effects of divorce on children

Going through a divorce or separation as a child is tough. The effects of divorce on children can be devastating as their way of living, balance and habits can drastically change.

It is very important to communicate with your child, to explain the situation with simple words not to mention that he is not responsible of it.

Regarding if your child is more or less young, do not hesitate to ask him where and who he wants to live with.

On the other hand, at any time, your child will be asked to testify of one of his parent’s fault (article 259 du Code civil).

Child care arrangements after divorce or separation

As parents who are going through a divorce or sepration you will both have to state on:

  • Parental responsability : in the principle, this is a case of both parents agreement despite their split-up.

L’autorité parentale


  • Children residence : Both parents will have to agree whether their children will live. In the UK this is known as child arrangement order.
  • Housing and caring matters : This is the case for the other partner who is not living with his child to see him every 2 weekends or during school vacations for i.e.
  • Child maintenant order and amount for the partner who has the children in charge.
  • The split of scholarship fees and unusal bills.

It is essential to have a good conversation regarding these matters to avoid children to be in a middle of loyalty concerns.

For their own interests, reaching an agreement is crucial.

My ex-spouse might want to take my child to live overseas. What shall I do?

If you fear your ex-spouse to take your child overseas, you can process as such:

In case of emergency

You could immediately apply for a legal protection enforcement by going to the police who will advertise about the process.


2° In other else situations

You will each require the written consent of the other to remove the child from the jurisdiction (country) for any purpose. If you can’t get the consent from your ex-partner, you can also go to the French family law Courts

In both cases you will need evidence that your children are about to get abducted.

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To help you
and to care

PacisLexis Family Law

You want to learn more about the first stages of a divorce?

Your family law lawyers and mediators are always here to advice and to defend you every step of the way and to help you going through every stage of a divorce whether you are married or in a French, UK and US partnership.

We will also help you to sort out financial matters and children’s arrangements.

If possible, we will handle your concerns with care and will provide tailored support.

In case of a conflictual process, we have the habilitation to get to Courts.

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