The International Convention on the Rights of the Child specifically defines the term “child” as: “every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”
Parentage is the legal relationship that links a child with each of the child’s parents.
Parentage is generally established out of court. In such a case, parentage may be the result either of a law (presumption of paternity for the husband of the mother and registration of the name of the mother on the child’s birth certificate) or of a voluntary recognition or of possession of status acknowledged by an official notarized document.
Parentage can also be established by a court decision based on a suit to establish maternity or paternity. It is also possible to contest pre-existing parentage in court.
Heterosexual and same-sex couples, as well as single individuals, may adopt. There are two types of adoptions, each with different legal consequences: full adoption and simple adoption.
Full adoption definitively breaks the tie between a child and his or her family of origin and is irrevocable. The adopted child gets a new parentage, which replaces his or her original parentage, and a new birth certificate is issued. The adopted child takes the name of the adoptive parents, and the adoptive parents have parental authority over the child. A foreign child adopted through full adoption while still a minor automatically acquires French nationality if one of the adoptive parents has French nationality. Within the adoptive family, the child benefits from the same rights and duties as biological children.
Simple adoption does not break the parent-child relationship between the child and the child’s family of origin. The adoptee has the same rights and obligations in his or her new family as any of the adoptive parents’ other children. Parental authority is exclusively exercised by the adoptive parents. Simple adoption creates a maintenance obligation between the adopter and the adoptee. The adoptee may also return to his or her biological parents if he or she cannot obtain support from the adoptive parents. The adoptee bears the name of the adopter, which is added to his or her name or replaces it. Simple adoption does not enable a foreign child to acquire French nationality. The adoptee will inherit from both the family of origin and the adoptive family. The adoption may be revoked by the court of first instance for serious grounds.
Under certain circumstances, a married person may adopt the child of his or her partner through either simple adoption or full adoption.
Parental authority is a set of rights and obligations exercised by parents in the interest of the child until the child reaches majority or is emancipated. Under the law, this means that someone, in principle the child’s parents, takes responsibility for the child.
These rights and duties particularly include the following:
Protecting, feeding, and housing the child, and providing for the child’s education, health, safety, and moral upbringing;
Choosing the place of the child’s residence, controlling the child’s movements in France or abroad, choosing the child’s educational direction, religious education, and sporting activities, and making decisions related to the child’s health.
Parental authority is exercised jointly by both parents as soon parentage is established with respect to each of them. In principle, joint authority is maintained even if the parents are separated.
If parents separate and cannot come to an agreement, the family affairs court will establish how parental authority is to be exercised between the separated parents (the child’s residence at one parent’s home or at both parents’ homes, visitation and custody rights).
Contribution to the care and education of the child refers, under the law, to financial responsibility for the child. If the parents are separated, this generally takes the form of child support paid by one parent to the other, generally by the parent who does not reside with the child.
Under French law, there are two types of unions: non-marital unions (cohabitation and civil unions or PACS) and marriage.
In principle, married couples can only end their marriage by going through divorce proceedings. However, other types of separation exist and have very different effects.
People who have reached majority and are considered vulnerable due to their situation (physical, psychological or social) may be protected by a judicial protective order covering both their person and their estate.
An estate is generally transferred after death, but we can also plan for how your assets will be transferred and optimize your tax options.