Whether they are in a couple or living apart, both parents raise their child until they reach the age of majority. They exercise joint parental authority.

The notion of parental authority

On a daily basis, parents have a vital role for the child:

  • determine where the child lives,
  • ensure their upbringing: guidance on schooling, bringing them up, vocational, religious, moral and civic guidance,
  • watch over their health: vaccinations, medical operations,
  • feed them and maintain them,
  • supervise their relationships,
  • manage their assets.

When parents live together

The father and the mother have the same powers over their children, whether or not they are married.

Any decision requires the agreement of both parents. However, for simple acts (termed “usual”) that do not break with the past or do not commit the future of the child, the consent of the other parent is assumed: re-enrolment of a child in a school, compulsory vaccinations, routine care (minor injuries, dental care, benign childhood diseases), etc.

When parents are separated

Despite the breakup, parents retain all of their rights and duties over their children. They remain co-decision-makers.

But they must agree on the practical arrangements (place of residence of the child in particular).

Their obligation to maintain takes the form of a maintenance payment for the person who does not have the usual custody of the child. In the event of disagreement, the parents will be able to submit their grievance to the family court.

Worth knowing:

Emancipation can be acquired either:

  • automatically in the event of marriage of the minor. Emancipation thus acquired cannot be called into question by the divorce or death of one of the spouses.
  • at the request of the father and mother together, or either one of them separately or the family council vis-à-vis the guardianship judge, provided that the minor is at least sixteen years old.


Reference text:

Articles 371 to 387 of the French Civil Code