How to get a divorce in Paris

HOW TO GET A DIVORCE IN PARIS If you are an American living in Paris, or someone interested in all things Paris (including the shenanigans of first lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy) you may be wondering about the procedures for getting a divorce in Paris. We thought we’d provide you with some insights:
Well, do you speak French? We found a website that is in French and our French is from high school, first year which was about a century ago. But here is one paragraph from the article we found. See if you can translate the four ways you can get a divorce in Paris (the grounds):

Il existe aujourd’hui 4 types de divorce : Le divorce par consentement mutuel, le divorce par acceptation du principe de la rupture du mariage, le divorce pour faute et le divorce pour altération du lien conjugal.

Sounds to me that they are saying, (and don’t quote me on that but it’s my hunch based on my recollection of high school french) that to get a divorce in Paris you have to demonstrate one of the four grounds (which means that France is a fault based jurisdiction?): 1) fault; 2) mutual agreement 3) no sex and 4) rupture/breakdown of the marriage. Well, this looks like it could mean that technically speaking, you can get a no fault divorce in France if you can show the marriage has ruptured (sort of the “irreconcilable differences” grounds in states like California.)
Okay. What else? Well, wait a second. Here is another list of things you must allege in order to get a divorce in Paris. It seems you must allege one of these “faults”:

La procédure de divorce à Paris est proposée à tous les couples mariés qui ne veulent plus rester ensemble. Les raisons d’un divorce sont multiples : incompréhension, adultère, harcèlement, maltraitance, … Peu importe les raisons d’un divorce, vous devez prouver à la Cour pourquoi vous souhaitez engager la procédure.

Okay. Then I take back what I said earlier. YOU HAVE TO PROVE WHY YOU WANT A DIVORCE AND WHY YOU SHOULD GET ONE AND YOU MUST ALLEGE SOME FAULT SUCH AS ADULTERY, CRUELTY, LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AND “harcelement” whatever the heck that is. (could it mean concealment of fact? If so, then some of these faults are more in line with the ground in states like Georgia. In New York, concealment can only get you an annulment, not a divorce.)
Okay. What else? Well, it seems one must first obtain a separation before one can obtain a divorce in Paris. In New York and most other states in the Union, there is no need to first obtain a separation. One can. But it is not required. From my reading of the article I have cited/quoted, it seems that one MUST get a separation first before one can obtain a divorce. And one would get a separation by proving the grounds such as concealment, adultery and cruelty. Only after a certain amount of statutorily mandated time has elapsed, could one then seek a divorce in Paris. That is my reading of the French article. Feel free to write in and correct me if I am wrong.
It is highly recommended that you retain a “competent attorney” to handle your Paris divorce. After a frank discussion with you, your attorney will be able to put together a “solid” presentation to the court which presents the case and law in such a way as to guarantee that you win your case.

votre avocat va constituer un dossier solide pour présentation devant la Cour. La loi et toutes ses subtilités sont bien connues de votre avocat conseil…

It seems both spouses must sign the divorce agreement/papers for it to be finalized. Without both signatures, there can be no divorce:

Les poursuites légales nécessitent l’accord des époux pour que le divorce soit prononcé. Si l’époux ou l’épouse n’approuvent 
Ils doivent signer le document final remis par la Cour pour que la séparation soit effective. Un des partenaires ne peut pas prétendre au divorce sans avoir le consentement mutuel des deux époux.

What else? Well, as far as custody and equitable distribution, it is similar to what happens here in the U.S. Parents seem to come to an agreement about custody and who will “guard” the kids who are under 18 years of age. It seems a mutual agreement is required – similar to the parenting plan that is incorporated into the laws of most states (New York, btw does not mandate a parenting plan but states like Georgia do.)
As far as equitable distribution, the article speaks of  “la pension alimentaire.” What is that? Good question. I am thinking it has to do with maintenance and alimony and basic support that could include child support. It appears that parties in a Paris divorce must come to an agreement about this as well. If not, the court will make the decision for you.
See this article for more.
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