When to get a divorce in France ?
International elements in a marriage - the couple's and children's nationalities, the country of the wedding, the place of the first family residence, the location of the last family residence - deeply impact where and how divorce proceedings should be conducted.
So when to get a divorce in France?
The answer is found in European Regulation n°2201/2003 of 27 November 2003 concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and the matters of parental responsibility (“Brussels II Revised”).
Under article 3 of Brussels II Revised :
“In matters relating to divorce jurisdiction shall lie with the courts of the Member State:
a. in whose territory:
the spouses are habitually resident, or
the spouses were last habitually resident, insofar as one of them still resides there, or
the respondent is habitually resident, or
in the event of a joint application, either of the spouses is habitually resident, or the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least a year immediately before the application was made, or
the applicant is habitually resident if he or she resided there for at least six months immediately before the application was made and is a national of the Member State
b. of the nationality of both spouses”
If anyone of the above criteria is met in France, it is possible to divorce in France.
However, when assessing in which country to get a divorce, it is essential to also determine in which country the consequences of the divorce should be decided upon.
This is because the rules on jurisdiction over the divorce and the rules on jurisdiction over the consequences of the divorce (i.e. on custody, property, spousal support…) are not the same.
Each consequence follows its own specific set of legal rules.
It is essential to look at the divorce process as a whole to avoid having to initiate multiple procedures in different countries.
For instance, regarding child custody in France, Brussels II Revised provides :
"The courts of a Member State shall have jurisdiction in matters of parental responsibility over a child who is habitually resident in that Member State at the time the court is seised."
French courts can try custody issues resulting from a divorce when the child lives in France.
Another example is child support in France.
The European Regulation n°4/2009 of 18 December 2008 on jurisdiction, applicable law, recognition and enforcement of decisions and cooperation in matters relating to maintenance obligations sets out the applicable rules.
Article 3 provides as follows:
“In matters relating to maintenance obligations in Member States, jurisdiction shall lie with:
(a) the court for the place where the defendant is habitually resident, or
(b) the court for the place where the creditor is habitually resident, or
(c) the court which, according to its own law, has jurisdiction to entertain proceedings concerning the status of a person if the matter relating to maintenance is ancillary to those proceedings, unless that jurisdiction is based solely on the nationality of one of the parties".
If anyone of the above criteria is met in France, French courts hear issues on child support.
Particular rules also apply to issues regarding spousal maintenance and property acquired during the marriage.
In conclusion, when assessing whether to get a divorce in France it is essential to take a look at the entire picture.
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If you are looking for an English divorce lawyer in France and would like to arrange a first meeting or have any questions, please get in touch.