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France: Family Law


US Department of State 2005 Report France has largely been effective in returning children abducted to France back to the United States, and until this past year, we did not discern a pattern of system-wide enforcement difficulty. In two cases this year, however, left-behind parents were severely delayed in enforcing return orders, which led to increased bilateral consultations and diplomatic intervention to seek their resolution. These cases occurred in entirely different parts of the country and involved different officials. One case became highly visible in the media, and six months passed after a Hague return order was issued before the case was finally resolved. The other case, however, remains unresolved as of this writing. In the first case, the taking parent was able to avoid enforcement by refusing to comply with enforcement officials and by concealing the whereabouts of the child. In the second, the prosecutor has taken no action since a return order was issued in March 2004. The problems experienced in 2004 with respect to enforcement in France serve as a cautionary note that even in countries where Hague cases are handled well and frequently result in returned children, enforcement issues can and do occur.



The French courts now generally refuse to recognize Islamic divorce decrees. So reports the blog. The typical cases before the French courts concern Islamic divorces obtained in Algeria or Morocco by husbands of Algerian or Moroccan origin who have emigrated to France. When the wife decides to sue for divorce in France, the husband travels to Algeria or Morocco for a quick Islamic divorce (talaq) under which the wife receives extremely low financial compensation. The husband then asks the French court to stop all proceedings in France because the parties are already divorced.

Until 2004, the Cour de Cassation (the French Supreme Court for private matters) used various specific grounds to deny recognition to most such divorces. The typical grounds were that the wife had not been called to the foreign proceedings or that the husband had committed a fraude à la loi by initiating proceedings overseas for the sole purpose of avoiding French proceedings.

However, in 2004, the Cour de Cassation ruled that Islamic divorces are in fundamental contravention of French public policy since they infringe the principle of equality between spouses that is mandated by the European Convention of Human Rights (Article 5, Protocol VII). In 2007 the Cour de Cassation issued similar rulings in five more cases, thereby making the rule firm.