Ways to get a divorce in France

There are 4 ways to get a divorce in France : 

Mutual consent divorce : it is implemented when the spouses agree both on the principle of the divorce and on its consequences. The spouses must each choose their lawyer, who will then prepare the mutual consent divorce agreement that will formalize the agreements of the spouses. 

Since January 1st, 2017, mutual consent divorce in France no longer requires to go to Court, it’s a non-judicial process done without a judge. The spouses and their counsels are in charge of the procedure and in control of the timeframe to finalize the divorce.

Acceptance of the principle of divorce : in this case, the spouses agree to divorce, but they are not in agreement as to its consequences. The disagreements may concern the financial aspects of the separation or the terms of custody and the exercise of visitation and accommodation rights over the children.

Divorce for alteration of the matrimonial bond : it is obtained after a separation of the spouses, and after they are no longer residing together. Since January 1st, 2021, the spouses must have been separated and residing apart for one year at the time the divorce procedure starts or one year at the time the judge rules, to be able to get a divorce on the ground of alteration of the matrimonial bond. 

Divorce for fault : if one of the spouses accuses the other of a fault based on the violation of the duties between spouses, and if he or she is able to prove this fault (such as adultery, for example), then he or she can obtain a divorce for fault.

Apart from the divorce by mutual consent which takes place without the intervention of a judge, the petition for divorce based on one of the three other causes of divorce as indicated above (acceptance of the principle of divorce, definitive alteration of the matrimonial bond, or fault) is a judicial procedure which will take place according to the same steps:

  • your lawyer will prepare of a writ of summons to appear before the judicial court
  • your lawyer will set a date with the court clerk’s office to schedule the day and time of the first hearing, called a hearing on orientation and temporary measures
  • a bailiff will serve the writ of summons on the defendant spouse
  • the hearing on orientation and provisional measures will take place, which allows for the organization of the rest of the proceedings and, if necessary, the setting of temporary measures for the duration of the divorce proceedings, such as the allocation of the use of the marital home, the amount of spousal support, the amount of child support, the terms of custody of the children, etc.
  • the discovery phase of the case with the exchange of written pleadings and exhibits between the parties
  • the hearing on the merits, at the end of which the judge will rule on the divorce and its consequences.

Note that one must be represented by an attorney throughout the divorce proceedings.

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