HELP - Declaring personal bankruptcy in France

Is there anybody out there who has gone through the process of insolvency or bankruptcy here in France.

My ex-husband abandoned me 4 years ago and I consequently lost my home (a large bed and breakfast) which is just in the process of being formally seized by the bank and is in negative equity.

In the last 4 years I have also been involved in a tribunal (which I won) and an appeal (which was thrown out for insufficient proof) against a couple of profiteers who stole some of my belongings when I lost my house. Even though I received legal aid and my advocate said the results of the appeal were unfair, I have just been presented with a bill for over €1000 which the courts say is not covered by legal aid. I have also had to move 4 times (to rental accommodation) in the last 4 years to escape intimidation from this couple, each time having to sell off more of my things to pay for the moving costs.

After suffering a nervous breakdown earlier this year, I am finally trying to get settled in my rented apartment in a new village. However, I am now being chased for taxe foncière and taxe d'habitation?? for the last 3 years for the B&B. I have repeatedly given the Tax Office the address in England of my ex, who was working last time I spoke to him last year, and even the assistante sociale at the hospital has written to them explaining my financial circumstances.

I want to get on with rebuilding what little of my life is left but am terrified that the bailiffs are going to come and take what few things I do have left, such as my tele, my laptop, my ornaments and bits of furniture that they do not consider basic essentials. I have even been told they may take my washing machine because I can go to the launderette. I am also scared that if they keep pursuing me and causing me so much stress I am going to end up back in hospital with another nervous breakdown.

I don't know where to turn next, whether to declare insolvency or bankruptcy and how to go about this. My assistante sociale at the hospital says my situation is too complicated and the regular assistante sociale in the town is not very helpful to the English. I have no job, though when this is not stressing me out to the limit, I do try to be pro-active and look.

I just want to get these problems out of the way as quickly and painlessly as possible so I can get on with my life, not that it is much living on basic benefit with no other means of income, though I try frequently to find work when these debts are not stressing me out too much or sending me back into a deep depression.

I would very much appreciate it if there is anybody out there who has been through a similar situation and can offer me some advice.

Thank you in advance.


Thanks Sarah

I have sent you a friend request so I can PM you. I hate all this speaking about my personal problems in public. But yes, that is definitely my first call - the Assistante Sociale, but unfortunately the one in our village doesn't have a good reputation with the French as well as the english.

Hello there

I have dealt with similar situations and when I closed my business even considered voluntary bankruptcy when I found myself with thousands of euros in debt

It is imperative that you see your Assistante Sociale who is based in your local conseil generale. He or she will advise you, protect you as much as possible and help organise realistic repayments. Once you start the process all action against you would be stopped (including repossessions) and your file would go before a magistrate who would decide on how you need to pay and over what period. The fact that your ex has left you in the s**t will work in your favour and will also ensure you get maximum RSA (or other benefits if applicable)

I would call them first thing this morning, explain the urgency and get an appointment asap

Don't hesitate to message me if you need any further help

Oh My God!! It sounds horrendous. Do you know if I were to send proof of rsa payments and my outgoings and offered them €5 a month they would leave me alone ? I really cannot face losing any more stuff. It doesn't even mention a TV.

I found the article at:

I am afraid that if you are declared in 'faillite' all your possessions bar a bed a table, a chair, personal jewellery, work instruments and tools, and I think edged weaponsI am not so sure about that.

Here is a list I found on a 'huissier, forum:

Les objets insaisissables

Vêtements, literie, linge de maison, objets et produits nécessaires aux soins corporels et à l'entretien de la maison, denrées alimentaires, ustensiles de cuisine, appareils de chauffage, table et chaises pour prendre les repas en commun, un meuble pour les vêtements et un pour le linge, une machine à laver le linge, les livres et objets nécessaires à la poursuite des études ou de la formation professionnelle, objets d'enfants, souvenirs à caractère personnel ou familial, animaux d'appartement ou de garde, animaux d'élevage, instruments de travail nécessaires à l'exercice personnel de l'activité professionnelle, un poste téléphonique permettant l'accès au service téléphonique ainsi que les objets indispensables aux soins des malades et aux personnes handicapées.

I had a friend when we were students, he was regularly 'seized' so he had only the strict minimum of possessions in his rented flat and no bank account.

When they say 'souvenir' you have to be able to prove it.

Hi Dominique

Thanks for your response. This sounds like what I need as it is all personal debts that he has left me to deal with. I don't totally understand it all but I get the general gist. It is the following paragraph that really worries me.....

Celui-ci, en contrepartie de l'annulation de la totalité des dettes non professionnelles, va décider de la vente judiciaire de tous les biens, à l'exception de ceux nécessaires à la vie courante ou professionnelle. Le juge désigne un liquidateur qui a douze mois pour vendre les biens à l'amiable, logement compris si la personne en est le propriétaire

.....In particular the bit about de ceux necessaires. I have already lost so much having lost my B&B with huge garden and the life I loved, then I had a load of my belongings stolen by a couple of profiteers who took advantage of my situation at the time (which is in itself a whole other story involving mental abuse a tribunal and an appeal) and am now reduced to living in an attic flat. Although it is small compared to what I am used to, it is quite cosy and comfortable and I do have a few nice things around me, most of which have been bought as gifts from my parents. It is these few nice things such as a room divider and my TV unit, my camera, ornaments, lamps and things like that, many of which are the last things I have left of any sentimental value, that I am afraid of losing to the bailiffs.

I will try and find this article on Wikipedia and print it off to take to these places you mention. Thanks for your help.

Wikipedia gives a definition of the situation in France, but it seems to be all to do with debts.

I would go to the local court or 'Maison des droits' ask at the prefecture or sous prefecture.

good luck.

En France

  • La faillite personnelle

  • Le rétablissement personnel : cette procédure est déclenchée dans le cadre d'une procédure de surendettement. Elle permet à une personne de repartir de zéro s'il ne lui reste plus aucune possibilité de rembourser ses dettes, avec l'impossibilité réelle de pouvoir mettre en œuvre des mesures de traitement, même dans le cadre strict d'un plan de redressement prescrit par la commission de surendettement.

    • La commission après avoir estimé que la situation est irrémédiablement compromise, va avec l'accord de la personne concernée, saisir le juge d'instance de l'exécution du tribunal de grande instance (en fait, il s'agit souvent du juge d'instance du domicile du débiteur).
    • Celui-ci, en contrepartie de l'annulation de la totalité des dettes non professionnelles, va décider de la vente judiciaire de tous les biens, à l'exception de ceux nécessaires à la vie courante ou professionnelle. Le juge désigne un liquidateur qui a douze mois pour vendre les biens à l'amiable, logement compris si la personne en est le propriétaire.

    • Si le produit de la vente est insuffisant pour payer les créanciers, le juge prononce alors la clôture de la procédure pour insuffisance d'actifs ce qui entraine aussi l’effacement des dettes à l'exception de celles dont le prix a été payé par une caution ou un coobligé. Les créanciers ne pourront plus entreprendre d'action en recouvrement complémentaire. Le juge peut ordonner également des mesures de suivi social.
    • Cette procédure entraine une inscription, pendant huit ans, au fichier des incidents sur le crédit aux particuliers.

  • La procédure de surendettement : Après avoir tenté sans succès de négocier avec ses créanciers, une personne peut obtenir le réaménagement de ses remboursements et même l'allègement de ses dettes.
    • Cette procédure est ouverte à ceux qui n'arrivent plus à faire face à l'ensemble de leurs dettes non professionnelles (dettes de crédits, loyers, dettes fiscales...).

    • Un dossier doit être déposé auprès de la commission de surendettement, compétente pour le département de résidence. En cas de refus de prise en compte, un appel peut être déposé auprès du tribunal d'instance.
    • Après examen du dossier, la commission propose un plan de redressement prévoyant l'aménagement des dettes (étalement dans le temps, report d'échéances, réduction des taux d'intérêts...) et le montant qu'il doit rester pour vivre après le remboursement, lequel ne peut être inférieur au RMI (Le RMI a été remplacé le 1er juin 2009 par le revenu de solidarité active (RSA), plus large).

Hi Liz,

We are not divorced yet but the procedure is going through at the moment (initiated by him based on over 2 years separation).

The main problem I have had is that I could not afford divorce proceedings against him and now cannot afford to contest it even though the split was his fault. I could not get legal aid for the divorce in France because we were not married here and I could not get legal aid in England because I am French resident. In any case there is not much point pursuing him. He is the type of "*!-#*" that works on contract and would give up work temporarily rather than pay maintenance. I was in dire financial circumstances last year and pleaded with him for a little pin money to tide me over only to get a mouthful of abuse.

Thank for the kind wishes though. I am very optimistic that things would pick up for me if I could only get these creditors he has left me to deal with off my back once and for all and get on with living.

So sorry to hear of your situation. If your ex is working, can you not apply for spousal support? Was there not a settlement when you divorced? Fingers crossed things pick up for you