Spouses who wish to separate can start divorce proceedings which vary depending on their situation.

There are several types of divorce: divorce by mutual consent, with or without a judge, agreed divorce, at-fault divorce and divorce for definitive alteration of the matrimonial bond.

The procedure

Whatever the type of divorce, the procedure always starts with the establishment of a file including the extracts of the birth certificate of the spouses and the children, the marriage certificate, the last notice of taxation, the deeds of properties, receipts for rent, gas and insurance, etc. If there are children, it will also be necessary to provide receipts for canteen expenses, out-of-school expenses, etc.

The intervention of a lawyer is mandatory.

Divorce by mutual consent

This presupposes that the spouses agree on the very principle of divorce and all its consequences, without it being necessary to provide any reason for separation.

  • Since 1 January 2017, the law to modernise the justice of the 21st century has permitted divorce without a judge. Each spouse is assisted by a lawyer. They draw up an agreement together and have a cooling-off period of a fortnight. The notary then intervenes to check, record and safeguard the legal instrument.

This procedure is open to couples who do not have minor children asking to be heard by the judge.

  • If this is the case, the proceedings will take place before the family court judge of the district court.

As for other types of divorce, the spouses will then be summoned to an initial hearing where they will be interviewed alone, then together, and with their lawyer(s).

The goal is to reconcile spouses on the procedures for their separation. The judge can also take provisional measures concerning the organisation of their life during the procedure (designation of a notary, assignment of accommodation, etc.).

The applicant spouse then issues a summons to their spouse that will mention the type of divorce and the former’s wishes. The other party will also draw up wishes. The judge will schedule a hearing date before rendering a judgement a month later.

Other types of divorce

  • Divorce on accepted demand

This is intended for those who agree to divorce but fail to agree on all the consequences thereof.

  • At-fault divorce

This concerns spouses who do not agree on the principle of separation, or on its consequences. Usually it is declared on the basis of the shared wrongs of the two former spouses or the exclusive wrongs of one of them.

  • Divorce for definitive alteration of the matrimonial bond

This makes it possible to obtain a divorce despite the refusal of one’s spouse. It will only be engaged to the extent that there has been a voluntary break in cohabitation for at least two years on the date of the summons.

Worth knowing

The parties always have the option of using family mediation before, during or after the divorce.


Reference text

Article 299 et seq. of the French Civil Code