Knowing what to do if your ex-partner does not comply with the terms of the divorce

If your ex-partner does not comply with the division of assets decided in your divorce or does not pay you the sum requested by the judge, known as a compensation payment or “prestation compensatoire”, there are solutions.

Verified by Maître Elodie Ramos on 03/05/2022

Unfortunately, it is possible that your ex-partner will not comply with the terms of your divorce, even if they were ruled by the judge. If that is the case, they are breaking the law.

There are several solutions that require the involvement of a justice system officer or a “huissier de justice”.

It is strongly recommended that you hire a lawyer to take these steps. If your resources are too limited to pay for these services, you can apply for legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle”.

How to proceed

  • What is involved?

    The “saisie sur compte bancaire” procedure consists of recovering the unpaid sums straight from your “débiteur’s” bank account.

    The “saisie-vente” procedure consists of having the assets of the “débiteur” seized. They will then be sold to pay you the unpaid sums.

    Is it fast?

    The time it takes for you to receive payment will depend on the solvability of your “débiteur”. If the amount due to you is seized on the first seizure attempt, you should receive the amounts within three months.

    Unfortunately, it may take much longer if the “débiteur” is not solvable.

    Is there a cost?

    You will have to pay for the services of the “huissier” yourself, which is why these procedures are generally not recommended. You will also need to repeat the “saisie” procedure every month if no payment is made. However, the fees may be covered if you have legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle”.

    What steps should be taken?

    You must call on a justice system officer known as a “huissier de justice”. You can find one near you in this directory.

    You will need to provide them with:

    • the official court document allocating you a financial contribution
    • your bank account certificate, or “relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB)
    • a document in which you have noted the unpaid amounts. You will need to certify that it is accurate and sign it. To do this, you can use a sworn statement, for example. Please note: in the event of incorrect calculation of the sums claimed, you, as the applicant, may be held legally liable.

    What’s next?

    As part of a “saisie sur compte bancaire”, the “huissier” will send the payment request, known as the “acte de saisie”, straight to the bank of your “débiteur”.

    • The “huissier” will inform your “débiteur” within eight days.
    • Their bank account will be blocked for a maximum of 15 working days, during which time the bank will determine the amounts that can be seized and then unblock access to the bank accounts.

    As part of a “saisie-vente”, the “huissier” will ask your “débiteur” to pay the sums due by sending them a document asking them to pay, known as an order to pay or “commandement de payer”.

    • They will have eight days to make the payment.
    • If payment has not been made within this period, the “huissier” will proceed with seizure of property. The property seized may be anything of value, with the exception of goods necessary for the life and work of the “débiteur” and their family.
  • What is involved?

    The procedure known as “saisie sur salaire” involves recovering the unpaid amounts from the salary of your “débiteur”.

    Is it fast?

    On average, this procedure takes a lot longer because:

    • it involves legal proceedings before the family court judge, or “Juge aux affaires familiales
    • the payment times vary considerably depending on the employer involved in the procedure.

    On average, it takes between 6 and 18 months to recover the unpaid amounts.

    Is there a cost?

    Yes, but your “débiteur” will have to cover these costs. You will not have to pay anything.

    What steps should be taken?

    You must first request authorisation from the family judge known as the “Juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)” via a lawyer. If your resources are too limited to pay for their services, you can apply for legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle” to cover the costs.

    Once authorised by the judge, you must hire a justice system officer or “huissier de justice” who will seize the sums to be paid to you directly from their salary. You can find one near you in this directory.

    You will need to provide them with:

    • the official court document allocating you a financial contribution
    • your bank account certificate, or “relevé d’identité bancaire (RIB)
    • a document in which you have noted the unpaid amounts. You will need to certify that it is accurate and sign it. To do this, you can use a sworn statement, for example. Please note: in the event of incorrect calculation of the sums claimed, you, as the applicant, may be held legally liable.

    What’s next?

    The “huissier” will contact the employer of your “débiteur” to implement the “saisie sur salaire” procedure, within the limits set by law.

Find support

In France, there are many services that can support you, give you advice, and assist you with procedures and paperwork. Most of them are free of charge.

  • The “Centres d'Information sur les Droits des Femmes et des Familles (CIDFF)” helps the general public, especially women, in many areas such as: legal rights, health, employment searches, training, business creation, and even childcare.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • They will be able to inform you of your rights and the steps to take. Some centres can assist you with procedures and paperwork.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • Contact: you will find the contact details of the “CIDFF” in your area in this directory.
  • The centres called “ point-justice ” bring together various organisations that give you legal advice depending on your situation, and sometimes help you with your administrative procedures.

    • These services are free of charge.
    • These centres have many names: “Maison de Justice et du Droit (MJD)”, “Point d’accès au droit (PAD)”, "Relais d’accès au droit (RAD)”, “Antenne de justice (AJ)” or “France services (FS)”.
    • Languages available: mainly French.
    • You can find a “point-justice” near you :
      • on this online directory.
      • by telephone on 3039 from mainland France and on +33 9 70 82 31 90 from overseas. They will ask you for your postal code and put you in touch with a “point-justice”. Languages available: mainly French.
  • Femmes Informations Juridiques Internationales Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (FIJI)” is an organization specializing in international family law.

    • This service is free.
    • Their team of lawyers will be able to answer your questions and provide you with advice concerning your separation, divorce and/or child custody matters. This is an information service only: they cannot represent you in legal proceedings, you will have to contact a lawyer for this.
    • Languages available: French, English.
    • Contact: by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone on 04 78 03 33 63 from Monday to Wednesday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
  • A lawyer's role is to defend your rights before, during and after legal proceedings.

    • Be careful to choose a good lawyer.
    • Lawyers have fees that you will need to pay.
    • If you have limited resources, you could be eligible for state financial assistance to pay these fees. This is called "aide juridictionnelle".
    • If you have not had a lawyer recommended to you by a professional or a person you trust, you can look for one on this directory which lists all the lawyers in France. You can search by languages spoken and legal specialisation.

While the utmost care has gone into providing you with the most accurate and up to date information, this page is not intended to replace legal or professional advice. Laws and procedures change regularly so it is important to consult qualified professionals.

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