Getting pasced with your partner in france

By Fiona McMurrey
Courtesy of Piterest

If you are an American with a French partner and reside in France, one of the rites of passage that is inevitable for any couple ready to take the next step in their relationship is that of getting PACSed. For the less religious or non-practicing, the French PACS contract provides the ideal framework for legally declaring your relationship without the imperious connotations of marriage. The Pacte Civil de Solidarité is a civil union recognized by French law that has many of the same benefits of marriage but is more easily dissolved and is applicable to couples of all sexual orientations. However, like all aspects of French bureaucracy, the PACS is certainly no leisurely stroll in the park, but its benefits far outweigh the hassle of the paperwork and to help you along, we’ve condensed the myriad steps into a useful little guide!

1. What is a PACS?

A Pacte Civil de Solidarité, quite simply, is a legal union designed to provide unmarried couples, regardless of gender, with legal recognition and some of, if not most of the rights and responsibilities accorded to married couples. While the contract does not feature all of the same benefits of marriage and the accompanying obligations, it does offer a flexible alternative that has gained widespread popularity among couples in France. Originally, the PACS movement started out as a way for individuals in the French LGBTQ+ community to have their relationships officially recognized by the French government before the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2013.

2. Who is Eligible and How?

Before you begin the lengthy process of applying for a PACS, it’s essential that you confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria for the PACS, the first of which is age, both partners must be at least 18 years old. Secondly, there is the issue of legal capacity, you and your partner must be legally capable of entering into the contract meaning that you cannot be married but estranged from a former spouse, already in a PACS, or declared mentally incapacitated. Lastly, your partner cannot be direct relatives, such as siblings, cousins, parents, and children - no sweet home Alabama!

3. The Hard Part

The first step consists of gathering the necessary documents, which typically include the following: valid identification (passport or national identity card), birth certificate (translated into French by an accredited translator if necessary), proof of address (utility bills or lease agreements), certificate of celibacy stating that you are not already married. Step two is submitting the application! Once you’ve assembled the requisite documents, you will need to visit your local Tribunal d’Instance (district Court) usually located at the Mairie of your respective city or town, or a notary’s office to submit your PACS application. Both partners must be present along with the required documents. Step three is signing the PACS agreement which will occur during the application process wherein you outline the terms of your union including how you’ll manage joint finances and property. This agreement can also specify provisions for asset distribution and inheritance rights (never too early to draft a will just in case!). The last step after signing your PACS agreement is registering it with the French authorities! This final step formalizes your union and grants you legal recognition as PACsed partners.

4. The Benefits!

While the PACS offers several benefits, these may depend on your nationality, the duration of your time in France, and of your time with your partner. However, some common advantages include, legal recognition, tax benefits, inheritance rights, and the possibility of applying for a Via Privée visa if you have lived with your partner for over a year.

If the prospect of marriage seems too intense of a commitment or you just don’t like the idea of the religious implications of that process, getting PACsed with your partner can be a beautiful, meaningful declaration of your commitment to your partner. By understanding the process and requirements involved, you can navigate the intricacies of PACS with ease, laying the foundation for a future filled with love!