Divorce in France

If you want to end your civil marriage in France, you can choose between several types of divorce procedures. It is essential to prepare well in advance and to be assisted by a lawyer specialising in private international law if an element of your marital situation involves another country.

Verified by Maître Hansu Yalaz on 09/02/2024

Before initiating a divorce procedure in France

Before you initiate a French divorce, it is important to know the different options you have and try to find the one that will be the most advantageous for you.

  • If you currently live in France and want to divorce, it is recommended to first check whether it would be possible to divorce in another country; for example, your home country, and whether this would be more advantageous for you. 

    You will need to act quickly, because if you are able to divorce in more than one country, the divorce will usually take place in the country in which the application is first made.

  • If you are involved in divorce proceedings in France, here are a few things to bear in mind:

    • There are two types of divorce procedures, amicable procedures and contentious procedures: 
      • Contentious divorce procedures can be particularly lengthy, traumatic, complex, expensive, and sometimes last for very many years.
      • An amicable divorce is much faster, and costs less, but requires the spouses to agree on all the terms and conditions of the divorce. 
    • Unfortunately, the current French legal system is particularly vulnerable to post-separation abuse. Not all French judges are yet aware of, nor equipped to identify, the typical behaviour of an abuser and the strategies they use to manipulate the system.
    • It is essential to prepare well in advance, if possible before you leave your spouse while you still have access to financial documents. It will be up to you to provide proof of your spouse’s income and assets. The judge will not be able to investigate in order to find out about their financial resources.

Professionals and institutions involved in divorce procedures

In the context of French divorce procedures, you will encounter the following professionals and institutions.

  • In France, regardless of the type of divorce procedure chosen, each spouse must hire a lawyer. Their role is to advise their client throughout the procedure, to communicate with the other lawyer and to take legal action.

    Spouses are not allowed to choose the same lawyer, nor may their lawyers belong to the same law firm: their addresses must be different.

  • The “huissier de justice” may be called upon to intervene at the request of your lawyer for various reasons, for example: 

    • to make an inventory of your assets 
    • to make formal notifications to parties during the divorce procedure, i.e. serve legal documents to the opposing party
    • if required, to enforce the measures set out by the judge; for example, in the event of non-payment of the spousal financial contribution known as a “pension alimentaire”.
  • If you have an amicable divorce and/or have property to share, a notary or “notaire” will be involved in the divorce procedure.

  • The “juge aux affaires familiales” is the magistrate who deals with all matters relating to family law. 

    They sit within the court known as the “tribunal judiciaire”.

  • With the exception of a specific type of amicable divorce, known as a divorce by mutual consent by lawyer’s agreement or “divorce par consentement mutuel par acte d’avocat”, all divorce procedures must be initiated through a lawyer before the “tribunal judiciaire”.

    The application for divorce must be made: 

    • before the “tribunal judiciaire” in the current place of family residence
    • or, if the spouses are separated and have children who are minors, before the “tribunal judiciaire” in the habitual place of residence of the parent who has primary custody of the children
    • or, if the spouses are separated and do not have any children who are minors, before the “tribunal judiciaire” in the habitual place of residence of the spouse who did not initiate the divorce procedure.

    In the event of an amicable divorce before a judge, the court that has jurisdiction can be the court where either one of the spouses reside.

  • The court of appeal or “cour d’appel” can be called upon if one of the spouses does not agree with a decision made by a judge. They can challenge the decision by beginning a procedure called an appeal or “appel”. This is done through their lawyer. 

    The case will then be judged a second time, this time by the “cour d’appel”, which will check that there has been no error of law before confirming or amending the decision of the “juge aux affaires familiales”.

  • Associations” can give you free legal advice if you want to check certain information before or during the divorce proceedings.

Cost of a divorce in France

Divorce procedures generally involve the following costs:

  • The lawyer’s fees or “honoraires”. These are generally the biggest costs. They can amount to several thousands of euros. On this page, you’ll find advice on what to consider when hiring a lawyer, including their fees.
  • The services of the “huissier de justice”, which are generally a few hundred euros each time a request is made.
  • The services of a “notaire”, whose rates depend, among other things, on the assets to be shared. They are generally shared equally between the two spouses.
  • A tax known as sharing rights or “droit de partage” at the time of the division of assets, which amounts to 1.1% of the value of the assets.
  • If you challenge the judge’s decision by lodging an appeal or “appel”, you usually have to pay an additional cost of €225. 

If your resources are limited, you could ask for some or all of these costs to be covered, by asking for financial help known as legal aid or “aide juridictionnelle”. In particular, it might be able to cover your lawyer’s fees, the costs of the “huissier de justice” and other costs related to legal procedures.

Divorces possible for spouses in full agreement

There are two types of amicable divorce procedures. These procedures are much faster than contentious procedures. 

To engage an amicable divorce procedure, the spouses must fully agree on the principle of the divorce and all its terms, which include in particular: 

  • the division of assets and debts known as the settlement of the matrimonial regime “liquidation du régime matrimonial
  • the amount of the financial contribution paid by one of the spouses to the other spouse, known as a family maintenance allowance or “pension alimentaire”, either to assist them until the divorce judgement is made or to contribute to child-related costs long term
  • the sum of money paid at the end of the divorce by one spouse to the other spouse if the divorce will create significant disparities in financial resources between them, known as a compensation payment or “prestation compensatoire
  • child custody arrangements, known as “modalités d’exercice de l’autorité parentale”.
  • This procedure is usually the quickest. A judge does not have to be involved, unless one of the children of the spouses requests a hearing with the judge.

    First, it is important to ensure that this divorce is recognised internationally

    This procedure is not recognised by many countries, including within the European Union.

    If you need to have your French divorce recognised in another country, for example your country of origin:

    • ask your lawyer to check that the “divorce par consentement mutuel par acte d’avocat” is recognised there
    • if this is not the case, you must then send a request called a “requête” to the family court judge known as the “juge aux affaires familiales” so that they can approve your divorce.

    How it works

    The procedure is as follows:

    1. Each spouse hires a different lawyer. 
    2. The lawyers draft an agreement known as a “convention” together, which details the terms of the divorce on which the spouses have agreed.
    3. If you have shared properties, the lawyers engage a legal expert called a notary or “notaire” to draft a document called a settlement statement or “état liquidatif” listing and valuing any properties. The lawyers then summarise the “état liquidatif” in the “convention” of the divorce.
    4. Once the “convention” is finalised, each lawyer sends it to their client by registered post with proof of receipt known as a “lettre recommandée avec accusé de réception”. This letter must be delivered in person to each spouse. They then have 15 days of reflection.
    5. Once this time has passed, the spouses and lawyers sign the “conventions” together. This agreement is signed directly with the “notaire” if there are properties to be divided. Otherwise, the lawyers send the “convention” by post to the “notaire” to be recorded.
    6. The notary provides the spouses with a document confirming the divorce, known as the certificate of “attestation de divorce”. The divorce shall take effect on that date.
    7. Each lawyer transcribes the divorce on their client’s civil status documents. 


    These procedures are the fastest and can take between 15 days and a few months, depending on the complexities of your divorce.

  • If you and your spouse agree on all the arrangements of the divorce but a “divorce par consentement mutuel par acte avocat” is not an option for you; for example, if it is not recognised in a country where you must have it recognised, you will need initiate a procedure called a “requête” before the family court judge known as the “juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)”.

    How it works

    You will need to follow the same procedure as the “divorce par consentement mutuel par acte avocat” to obtain a divorce “convention”. 

    Then, your lawyer will send the “convention” accompanied by the “état liquidatif” to the “juge aux affaires familiales” and ask them to sign it. This is the procedure known as “requête”. This can be done two ways:

    • As a joint application by both of the spouses, known as a “requête conjointe”. In this case, the document must be drawn up by both lawyers and signed by both spouses. 
    • As an application made by just one of the spouses. This needs to be done through their lawyer and then accepted and signed by the other spouse. 

    The judge can then validate your agreement and grant your divorce. The procedure is usually quick, without you having to go to court to testify.  


    In addition to the time scheduled for drafting the divorce “convention”, it is usually necessary to allow between two and six months to obtain the validation of the judge depending on the location of the court involved.

Divorces possible for spouses in disagreement

You will need to initiate a contentious divorce procedure if you and your spouse do not agree on the principle of divorce and/or its terms, which may include:

  • the division of assets and debts
  • the amount of the financial contribution paid by one of the spouses to the other spouse, known as spousal financial allowance or “pension alimentaire”, either to assist them until the divorce judgement is made or to contribute to child-related costs long term
  • the sum of money paid at the end of the divorce by one spouse to the other spouse if the divorce will create significant disparities in financial resources between them, known as a compensation payment or “prestation compensatoire
  • child custody arrangements, known as “modalités d’exercice de l’autorité parentale”.

There are three contentious divorce procedures in France, all of which take place before the family court judge, known as the “juge aux affaires familiales (JAF)”.

  • The divorce procedure known as an accepted divorce or “divorce accepté” can be used if you both agree on the principle of divorce but do not agree on its terms.

    Before initiating a divorce procedure with the judge, you must sign a document called an acceptance statement or “procès-verbal d’acceptation” which states that you both agree to the principle of the divorce.

  • The divorce procedure known as an for-fault divorce or “divorce pour faute” can be used in the event of serious misconduct by one of the spouses; for example, in cases of domestic abuse or adultery. 

    You do not need your spouse’s consent to apply for this divorce.

    Which faults can be taken into account?

    • The fault must be sufficiently serious to make it impossible to continue living together. Your lawyer can advise you about your chances of obtaining this divorce. 
    • You must be able to prove fault, for example, with witness statements, a medical certificate or even a complaint. 

    What are the consequences of this type of divorce?

    • If the fault is acknowledged by the judge, your spouse may be ordered to pay you compensation. In general, the sum demanded by the judge amounts to a few thousand euros.
    • You should be aware that the legal debates in this type of divorce can be particularly vicious. You will need to prepare for this with your lawyer.
    • If the judge considers that there was no fault, they may decide not to grant the divorce at all. It is therefore highly recommended to submit a request for a different type of divorce at the same time known as the divorce for definitive alteration of the matrimonial relationship or “divorce pour altération définitive du lien conjugal”. This way the divorce procedure will not have to be restarted from the very beginning if the judge does not agree a spouse was at fault. The judge will first examine the request for “divorce pour faute” and, in the event of refusal, they will then examine the other request.
  • The divorce procedure known as a divorce for definitive alteration of the matrimonial relationship or “divorce pour altération définitive du lien conjugal” can be used if you are able to prove that you have not lived with your spouse for at least one year. 

    You do not need your spouse’s consent to apply for this divorce.

    What to do in case of recent separation

    If you have not lived together for less than a year, you can still initiate this procedure to start the process. 

    The judge will then postpone the case until you can prove these 12 months of separation. 

    How to prove the 12 months of separation

    Documents that can serve as proof of 12 months of separation are documents that can prove your place of residence, such as rent receipts or electricity or gas bills in your name.

Contentious divorce procedures, step by step

Unfortunately, you will need patience, as these procedures in France can take an extremely long time, sometimes many years.

  • It is very difficult to give a precise duration of how long contentious divorce procedures in France will last. In general, they take several years, and up to ten years if an appeal is made by one of the spouses every time a court decision is granted.

    What are the minimum periods of time to consider?

    • To begin with, two to three months between the official divorce application called the “assignation en divorce” and the first hearing with the judge called the “audience d’orientation”.
    • Then at least six months of written debates, called “conclusions” between the spouses, made through their lawyers. These debates sometimes take several years in the most conflictual cases.
    • At the same time, six months for the drafting of the report of a notary or “notaire” on all the joint assets and debts of the spouses.
    • Once the judge has put an end to the debates or “conclusions”, it will be three to six months before the final hearing called the “audience de plaidoirie”.
    • One month between the “audience de plaidoirie” and the granting of the divorce judgement. 
    • Finally, once the divorce is granted, it is sometimes necessary to initiate new legal procedures to finalise the division of assets, which generally takes between one and two and a half years.

    What if one of the spouses contests the judge’s decision?

    Each time the judge grants a decision, each spouse has the option of lodging an appeal or “appel” to the appeal court or “cour d’appel”. As a general rule, they have a period of one month to lodge an “appel”, or two months if they reside abroad.

    Unfortunately, this can significantly slow down the procedure because:

    • a procedure before the “cour d’appel” usually takes between one and two years
    • each “appel” pauses the divorce procedure until the “cour d’appel” judge makes a decision.
  • It is essential to prepare well in advance, if possible before you leave your spouse, while you still have access to the documents.

    Below are the types documents that need to be compiled:

    • Your identity documents and those of your children: identity card, passport, etc.
    • Your immigration documents: your French residence permit or “titre de séjour”, the receipt of your application for a residence permit or “récépissé”, or an “attestation de demande d’asile” or confirmation of asylum application.
    • The record book detailing the composition of your family, known as the “livret de famille”, if you have one.
    • Copies of your civil marriage certificate and birth certificate dated within the last three months for a French certificate and less than six months for a foreign certificate. Please note that in some countries the original birth certificate is only issued once. If this is the case for you, remember to clarify it to your lawyer so that they can ensure that you recover it at the end of proceedings. 
    • Your healthcare card or “carte vitale”.
    • The documents of the French administrative body responsible for the payment of financial aid to families, known as the “Caisse d’allocations familiales (Caf)”.
    • Photos of your spouse’s documents: tax notices, payslips, account statements, employment contracts, etc.
    • Evidence of any other undeclared sources of income: photos of cash, notebooks, purchases, etc.
    • Proof of your spouse’s assets and property or those you share with them: real estate, investments, etc.
    • Documents relating to children: school activities, extracurricular activities, canteen costs, medical costs, etc.
    • Anything that could prove any domestic abuse you have experienced.
  • Regardless of the divorce procedure chosen, you will need to hire a lawyer, ensuring that it is not that same lawyer as your spouse, and that they do not belong to the same law firm as your spouse’s lawyer.

    If an element of your marital situation involves another country, it is highly recommended that they are a specialist in private international law.

  • The rules applicable to the division of property in the event of a divorce is called the marital regime or “régime matrimonial”. 

    The French judge may apply a French or foreign “régime matrimonial” depending on your situation.

    How do I know what my “régime matrimonial” is?

    If you have signed a marriage contract, this usually specifies the “régime matrimonial” chosen. 

    However, in some cases, your initial “régime matrimonial” may change; for example, if you changed your place of habitual residence more than ten years ago. 

    This can depend on many criteria, for example: 

    • the country where you got married
    • the country of your first shared residence with your spouse
    • the country of your current habitual residence. 

    These rules vary depending on the country concerned: 

    • Some countries have signed bilateral agreements with France or the Hague Convention. A list of these countries can be found on this website.
    • Between the countries in the European Union, the Brussels II bis Regulation is currently applied, which will be replaced by the Brussels II ter Regulation from 1 August 2022. 

    Your lawyer will be able to help you understand the rules that apply in your situation. 

    If your matrimonial regime or “régime matrimonial” is a French one 

    If this is the case, the process will usually be simpler. 

    There are several types of “régimes matrimoniaux” in France. 

    If you have not signed a marriage contract, the regime that applies is that of joint ownership reduced to the property acquired after the marriage or “régime de la communauté légale”, also known as the “communauté réduite aux acquêts”:

    • movable or immovable property owned before the marriage remains the personal property of each spouse
    • income and assets acquired during the marriage are considered joint assets.

    In this case, in the event of a divorce, the joint assets are generally divided into two equal shares.

    If your “régime matrimonial” is foreign 

    If a foreign “régime matrimonial” applies, your lawyer will have to demonstrate to the French judge how to apply it for the division of your assets.

    They must provide proof of the “régime matrimonial”; for example, by obtaining a document from a lawyer from the country concerned, such as:

    • an official document called an “affidavit
    • an official letter.

    Your lawyer may be able to help you determine the information that this document must contain. This may include, for example:

    • if there is a French “régime matrimonial” equivalent to the foreign matrimonial regime or “régime étranger
    • the rules for the division of assets
    • a quantified estimate of the division of your assets if the divorce were to take place in the courts of this country.
  • The divorce proceedings officially begin when your lawyer, or your spouse’s lawyer, sends an official request for divorce to a family judge or “juge aux affaires familiales”. This is known as lodging a divorce petition or “assignation en divorce”. 

    Notification of “assignation en divorce” to a judge

    By notifying the “juge aux affaires familiales” of the “assignation”, the lawyer may choose to request of them, if they deem it necessary: 

    • The appointment of a court-appointed expert called a notary of “notaire“, to prepare the division of the spouses’ assets.
    • A hearing with the judge known as a “audience d’orientation et sur mesures provisoires”. This hearing allows the judge to set measures that will be valid for the duration of the procedure called “mesures provisoires”. These include, but are not limited to:
    • The presence of an interpreter at the “audience” if you do not speak French. The interpreter’s services will be paid for by the court.

    Following the “assignation en divorce”, the judge will set up an initial hearing or “audience” with the spouse’s lawyers, usually within two or three months. 

    In the event of an emergency, for example in the event of domestic violence or the risk of child abduction, the lawyer may initiate a procedure called a “à bref délai” which allows a hearing date to be obtained sooner.

    Notification of the “assignation en divorce” to the other spouse

    The spouse requesting the divorce must hire a legal professional called a “huissier de justice” to notify the other spouse about the “assignation en divorce”. This is called a “notification”.

    This is done through a lawyer.

    This is an essential step for the divorce procedure to be officially initiated.

  • Once divorce a divorce procedure has been initiated, debates between the parties will mainly take place in writing. 

    Each party will take turns drafting, with the help of their lawyer, a document called “conclusions” then sending them to the judge.

    When are the “conclusions” written?

    Conclusions” may be necessary at different stages of the procedure:

    • In preparation for the “audience d’orientation et sur mesures provisoires”. This document focuses on the measures requested by each spouse from the judge for the duration of the divorce procedure.
    • In preparation for the final “audience”. This document details the facts, the type of contentious divorce chosen and what each spouse wants to obtain at the end of the divorce. 

    Preparing carefully

    These debates and the exchange of “conclusions” can be particularly difficult to experience, especially for a person who has survived domestic abuse. 

    This is often when post-separation abuse continues and the perpetrators of abuse manipulate the system using specific strategies to make accusations against the victim, including obtaining testimonies from people around them.

    You can establish a strategy with your lawyer to find out how to respond to these possible attacks.

    What is the procedure? 

    Each lawyer takes turns in drafting their own “conclusions”. They usually have a period of two or three months to write them and then send them to the judge before the deadline.

    It is then the other lawyer’s turn to write their “conclusions”, taking into account the elements written by the other party.

    These exchanges can continue like this for months or even years.

    When it is your lawyer’s turn to write the “conclusions” 

    This is your opportunity to explain your version of the facts and ask for what you want to obtain at the end of the divorce, or respond to the other party’s “conclusions”:

    • Your lawyer will ask you questions and ask you for documents to attach to the “conclusions”. 
    • If your documents are not in French, you or your lawyer can translate them yourselves without having to engage a professional translator. This is known as a “traduction libre”. You can use free translation sites such as Google Translate or DeepL to help you.
    • Your lawyer will then ask you to review their “conclusions” before sending them to the judge. 
    • Read them very carefully and summarise your comments in an email to your lawyer.

    When your lawyer receives the “conclusions” of the other party 

    This is the opportunity for the other party to present their version of the facts and ask for what they want to obtain at the end of the divorce, or respond to your “conclusions”:

    • Your lawyer will send you the opposing “conclusions” to seek your opinion.
    • Read this document carefully and summarise your comments, point by point, in an email to your lawyer. Focus on the facts and try to provide evidence if you have any.

    Receiving the other party’s “conclusions” can be the most traumatic moment in divorce procedure in France. This is especially the case if your ex-partner chooses specific strategies used by perpetrators of abuse and makes false accusations against you.

    You can find support from an “association” specialised in helping victims of violence or by consulting a psychologist.

    Official request for documents or “sommation de communiquer

    During the drafting of the “conclusions”, each party may formally request documents from the other party to support their arguments.

    A procedure called “sommation de communiquer” is then carried out, in which the requested documents are listed.

    If you receive a “sommation de communiquer”, it’s important to respond by providing the documents you have, or by explaining to your lawyer why you don’t have them.

    If the other party refuses to provide certain documents

    If, after receiving a “sommation de communiquer”, your spouse refuses to provide you with a document relating to an important element, such as evidence of their resources, you can ask your lawyer to carry out a specific procedure known as “conclusions d’incident aux fins de communication de pièces”. 

    You must have some proof of the existence of the document in question before this procedure can be carried out.

    This procedure will oblige your spouse to provide you with this document. Otherwise, they may expose themselves to the following risks:

    • They may have to pay penalties for each day they retain the requested document.
    • The judge could assume that you are telling the truth about the matter in question. For example, if you think you know your spouse’s income but they refuse to prove it, the judge could assume that their refusal hides large sums of money, and they might take their decision accordingly.

    Negotiating to reach an agreement 

    At the same time as drafting the “conclusions”, lawyers may attempt to negotiate confidentially on the spouses’ behalf in an attempt to reach an agreement. 

    This can be done at any time until the final judgement is given and confirmed. 

    Stopping the debates and ending the exchange of “conclusions

    In contentious divorce procedures, there are generally several exchanges of “conclusions” between lawyers before the closing date set by the judge. 

    The judge can pronounce the closure of the debates under two circumstances:

    • at the request of one of the two lawyers
    • at their own decision when a party has stopped responding or they believe the process is taking too long.
  • This is an optional hearing which is only organised if one of the lawyers has requested it at the time of the “assignation en divorce”.

    This appointment usually takes place two to three months after the “assignation en divorce”. 

    This hearing may enable the judge to: 

    • set out measures that will be valid for the duration of the procedure, referred to as provisional measures or “mesures provisoires” 
    • set a schedule for the procedure for the lawyers
    • designate a notary or “notaire” to draw up a settlement statement or “état liquidatif” detailing all the assets and debts of the spouses. 

    At the end of the “audience d’orientation”, the judge will draft a document called the “ordonnance d’orientation” detailing their decisions. 

    If you do not agree with one or more of the judge’s decisions, you can challenge them by lodging an appeal within a maximum period of 15 days.

  • Following their appointment, the legal expert known as the notary or “notaire” will generally have a period of six months to draft a report detailing the assets and debts of the spouses. 

    The process

    This procedure usually unfolds in the following way:

    1. The “notaire” uses the information provided by the spouses to list and assess the value of the assets and debts. 
    2. They draft a plan to divide these assets and debts, taking into account the “régime matrimonial” to be applied. 
    3. They send this draft to the spouses through their lawyers. 
    4. If at least one of the spouses does not agree with this division plan, their lawyer will indicate this disagreement in writing with the “notaire”. These exchanges are called “dires”.
    5. The spouses can try to agree on the division plan. 

    At the end of the designated time period, the “notaire” will send their report to the judge, regardless of whether or not the spouses have reached an agreement.

    What if a “notaire” has not been appointed?

    If you did not request the appointment of a “notaire” at the time of the “assignation en divorce”, this step can also be carried out after the divorce has been definitively granted.

  • After receiving the final “conclusions”, the judge will fix a date for a hearing called an “audience de plaidoirie”, during which each lawyer can quickly set out their arguments. 

    Spouses are not allowed to speak at this hearing, and their presence is not compulsory. 

    At the end of the “audience”, the judge will formally end the debates between the parties. This is called “clôture des débats”. The judge will also indicate the period within which they will make their decision, which is usually one month.

  • The judge may decide to grant the divorce or to reject it. 

    They may also make a decision on certain requests from the parties. 

    However, it is possible that they may not decide on certain points relating to the division of assets and liabilities or “liquidation du régime matrimonial”. In this case, the parties will have to initiate a new procedure called a summons to divide assets or “assignation en liquidation partage” with the judge responsible for the division of assets. This procedure is explained below.

    Each spouse will receive the decision of the judge called the divorce judgement or “jugement de divorce” by letter from the court.

  • Once the judge has granted the divorce, one of the spouses must notify the other via a justice system officer known as a “huissier de justice”. 

    This step is very important because it will enable the eventual forced execution of the divorce judgement; for example, if your ex-spouse does not end up paying a financial contribution known as a “pension alimentaire”, the sum of money known as a “prestation compensatoire”, or in the event of non-compliance with child custody arrangements.  

    If your spouse is abroad, you must hire a “huissier de justice” in France, who will take the necessary steps to notify them of the decision in the other country.

  • If you do not agree with the judge’s decision, you can challenge it by lodging an appeal through your lawyer before the court of appeal or “cour d’appel”. 

    You normally have a period of one month from notification of the decision by the “huissier de justice”, two months if you are abroad. The other party may also lodge an “appel” within the same time limits. 

    However, if notification of the decision has not been made by a “huissier de justice”, the time limit is increased to two years.

  • Once the divorce has been definitively granted, your lawyer will be responsible for recording the divorce on your birth and marriage certificates. 

    If you were born and/or married abroad, it is highly recommended to have your divorce recognised in your country of origin

    However, if you are a political refugee in France, you must not contact the authorities of your home country. Instead, you can contact an organisation offering free services called an “association” specialised in the rights of refugees.

  • If the family judge has not decided on the division of certain assets in the “jugement de divorce”, you will need to follow the below steps : 

    • First, you can try to find an amicable solution with the other party.
    • If you cannot reach an agreement, you can start a new legal procedure called a summons to divide assets or “assignation en liquidation partage” with the judge.

    Step 1 if the judge has already appointed a notary or “notaire” to carry out the division of assets or “liquidation

    The parties must make an appointment with the designated “notaire” to try to reach an amicable agreement.

    The process is similar to that described above.

    Following these exchanges:

    • If the parties reach an agreement, they can then proceed to the division of their property.
    • If the parties do not reach an agreement, the “notaire” will issue a report called a “procès-verbal de difficultés” or “PV de difficultés” detailing the points of disagreement. The spouses will then need to initiate the legal procedure described in Step 2.

    If one of the parties refuses to participate: the “notaire” will write a document called “procès-verbal de carence” or “PV de carence” which will allow you to ask the judge to decide on the division of assets by initiating the legal procedure described in Step 2

    Step 2 (in case of disagreement): starting new legal procedure called a summons to divide assets or “assignation en liquidation partage

    In the event of disagreement on the division of assets or “liquidation”, one of the lawyers will need to make an application called a summons to divide assets or “assignation en liquidation partage”. This application is made the judge in charge of the division of assets called “juge de la liquidation”. This procedure will allow the judge to make a decision concerning your assets.

    The steps in this procedure are as follows:

    • One of the lawyers will have to make the application for “assignation en liquidation partage”. This is a request that the judge in charge of the division of assets called “juge de la liquidation” makes a decision.
    • In this application, the lawyer must provide the judge, according to article 1360 of the “Code de la procédure civile”:
      • a document presenting a summary of the assets to be divided 
      • a document detailing what you want to obtain when dividing the assets
      • the steps you have taken to try and reach an agreement, for example exchanges of e-mails with the other party.
    • Once the procedure has started, the judge will appoint a “notaire”.
    • The “notaire” will have the role of exchanging with the two parties to propose a division of their assets, and try to reach an agreement.
    • In the absence of agreement, the “notaire” will issue a report called a “procès-verbal de difficultés” or “PV de difficultés” for the attention of the judge.
    • The judge will then make a decision.
    • Each spouse will have the right to challenge the judge's decision by making an “appeal”.

    When can this procedure be initiated?

    You must wait for the definitive divorce judgment to begin this procedure.

    How long will this procedure take?

    This procedure usually lasts between one and three years.

    At the end of the procedure, if one of the spouses lodges an appeal or “appel” against the judge’s decision, it will take one to two additional years.

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.

You may also be interested

Knowing in which country to apply for divorce

Depending on your nationality, the nationality of your partner, the country where you got married,…

Hiring a lawyer in France

Lawyers play a key role throughout legal proceedings. It is important to choose one you can trust.…

Applying for “l'aide juridictionnelle” or legal aid to pay for a lawyer and other legal costs

If you don't have enough money to hire a lawyer and pay for legal proceedings, you can ask the state…

For police intervention:

Scroll to top