International Family Law

A couple that has an international aspect to their relationship may choose to live together in a de facto union or to join together in a civil union (PACS) or marriage. Each type of union brings about different rights and obligations for the members of the couple. In an international context, it is beneficial to make sure the union will be recognized both in France and abroad.



Marriage, whether it is a union of two persons of different nationalities or it is entered into between French nationals abroad or by foreigners in France, results in the same rights and duties for each of the spouses.

On an international level, marriage leads to the question of which laws apply to its validity. On this point, private international law traditionally distinguishes between the conditions of the form and content of the marriage. The principle is that the form of the marriage comes under the law of the place in which it is celebrated, while the matrimonial capacity of each of the spouses comes under their respective national laws.

However, it is possible to set aside a prohibitive national law. For example, when one of the spouses has a nationality, domicile or residence in a country that allows same-sex marriages, the marriage can be celebrated even if the individual law of one of the future spouses prohibits it.

The issue of marriage under international law also raises the question of recognition of the marriage in France for marriages celebrated abroad, or recognition abroad for marriages celebrated in France.


Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

When a marriage takes place in an international context, the spouses must determine the rules that will apply to their matrimonial property regime.

Individuals’ freedom to travel, particularly within the European Union, leads to many uncertainties for future or current spouses when it comes to determining which court will have jurisdiction and which laws will apply to the matrimonial property regime, divorce, and financial consequences a divorce.

The EU Regulation on matrimonial property regimes, which entered into effect on 29 January 2019 standardized, in large part, the jurisdictional and choice of laws rules in Member States of the European Union. It facilitates married couples’ travel and status within the EU.

In addition, the Regulation on maintenance obligations and the Rome III Regulation on laws applicable to divorce give spouses options for choice of jurisdiction and applicable laws.

This freedom to choose, in the context of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, allows you to plan for the consequences of divorce and, therefore, also offers the spouses better legal security. The Alexandre Boiché firm can also help you draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.


Civil Unions or PACS

Civil unions exist in many legal systems today. They are either general or reserved for same-sex couples.

In terms of international law, Article 515-7-1 of the French Civil Code states that the law that governs the conditions of forming a civil union and its effects, as well as the causes and effects of its dissolution, is that of the country of the authority that registered it.

International Family Law


How a couple separates depends on the type of union they chose. For married couples, we need to pay attention to the jurisdiction in which the divorce will be filed.


Children may be affected by various matters that fall under international family law (habitual residence on the territory of a foreign country, movement across a border, etc.)

International Protection of Adults

To protect a vulnerable adult, it may be necessary to resolve issues of private international law, such as jurisdiction, so that a protective order may be issued and recognized.

Estate Management and Transfer of Assets

Estates are transferred after a death or on the basis of an estate plan. In an international context, this area of law has special characteristics due to the diversity of laws and taxes that may apply.

Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments

In an international context, the question of what consequences a foreign judgment will have in France often arises.

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