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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

When in France, Do As the French Do…and When Not in France, Still Do As the French?

France has had two big innovations in family law, and I look forward to see if they spread across the world as quickly as a hot new Chanel bag.    

First, in France, movements to grant rights for same-sex couples culminated in 1999 in a form of civil partnership called PACS (civil pact of solidarity), which aimed to protect unmarried cohabitants.  To gain political support for the bill, opposite-sex cohabitants were also included as its beneficiaries.  When the French Parliament adopted PACS, approximately 42% of couples who entered into PACS agreements were opposite-sex.  Today, over 90% of PACS agreements are between opposite-sex couples.   The number of registered opposite-sex couples under PACS has been continuously increasing, and there are now two PACS for every three marriages.  After the introduction of same-sex marriage and skyrocketing opposite-sex cohabitation rate, PACS is replacing marriage.  In the United States, cohabitation is also increasing and marriage is decreasing, but there is no middle-ground like PACS.

Also in France in 2016, non-judicial divorce was introduced.  In other words, spouses in France can now divorce by contract after hiring their own attorneys, which is then registered and official—no courts involved.  It has to be consensual, and children of a certain age can halt the non-judicial process, which then reverts to the court for judicial protection and oversight.  Non-judicial divorce is now not only an option in France, but is common.  In the U.S., American courts have been involved in every divorce case since the earliest cases of divorce.  While mediation and summary dissolution have been on the rise, American courts still have to at least rubber stamp agreements.  Recently, Minnesota legislators introduced legislation in 2015 and 2017 proposing an administrative divorce option, but it never became law.  If another state decides to further liberalize its divorce law, France certainly provides a compelling model to simplify the process while protecting the parties. 

I describe the French process more in my forthcoming Seattle article here, and I described PACS in my recent article here.  I think both are huge developments in recent family law, and I wonder if they will be transplanted to other countries, including the U.S.

Posted by Margaret Ryznar on September 18, 2018 at 05:14 PM | Permalink


Thanks for the links. The French approach is not for everyone--it is not too surprising that Romania is taking a different approach despite relative geographic proximity.

Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Sep 20, 2018 4:59:46 AM

Margaret , you may find great interest here :


Posted by: El roam | Sep 19, 2018 12:10:29 PM

Here one may read , how Sweden ( very progressive state ) is also dealing with the rise of the right , and the connection to refugees :



Posted by: El roam | Sep 18, 2018 7:45:30 PM

He who wants , can read here , about Idlib as mentioned :




Posted by: El roam | Sep 18, 2018 7:37:51 PM

Interesting indeed . You have put , a very important question at the end of the post ( wondering if they will be transplanted to other countries , including the U.S ) . This is a hell of issue or question . Much depends on whether the rise ( or significant relative rise ) of the right in the world shall continue . Bit weird as it may look , but :

We are about to face , huge decisive battle in northern Syria ( the battle for Idlib ) . For the time being a sort of truce or continuation of de escalation areas or zones there has been achieved ( continuation of " Astana agreement " ) . But , if that battle is initiated indeed , we shall have , huge new wave of refugees , pushing towards Europe and the US also ( millions simply ) .

One of the main reasons , for the rise of the right , is the issue of refugees ( raising or generating strong national feelings or protests , and causing internal destabilization and terror attacks ) .

Say the right , say setback to such progressive laws generally speaking . That is a very clear recent process or global almost , phenomenon .


Posted by: El roam | Sep 18, 2018 7:34:04 PM

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