Should we get married?

So - here's the deal. I never had a dream to get married. It actually never really crossed my mind. Not untill friends with kids, shared ownership of houses etc. started talking about how much easier it all is if you are married. How the other one is protected in case anything bad happens etc.

Me and my boyfriend do not (yet) own anything legally together, and between us there is not a lot of money to thrown around anyway. But we do have a kid together. Plus an older bonus-child from his side.

Before I start trying to navigate the French law system I would like to hear from the Friendly Advice Bureau. Is there a reason for us to get married? As in ... is there something I should be aware of regarding our child / children when we are not married? I am, as you have probably already concluded, not talking about the romantic side of marriage here. I want the hard facts. I know you have them!


Thanks for that good advice Hilary.

Hi John. It is my understanding that where a country opts out, it is only in so far as the law will apply in that country. So, for example, if the UK opts out, a French national resident there will not be able to apply French law to his estate (property) in the UK. It does not prevent a UK national resident in France from applying British law to his succession, as France by all accounts has opted in.

Some notaires I have spoken to are doubtful that the law will actually be passed in 2015, so we'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, nothing stops a foreign EU national resident in France drawing up a will now stating he wants the law of his country of birth to be applied to the succession of in 2015 when (or if??) the law is passed.

It's true. They even let the proleteriat buy cars! "Advances" don't necessarily improve things! :<)

Life changes David. Women have even got he vote since your first marriage :-)

BTW, I'm married once for 30 years so no axe to grind..........

I thought UK and Ireland had opted out Hilary?

Catharine, totally agree with A) and B) and would just like to add a C) The person that you marry should also be your best friend.

An SCI is one way to go.

Otherwise you can "gift" your property to your children before you die. Currently tax free up to a limit of 100,000 € per parent per child every 15 years. This doesn't resolve the issue where you have no children, as the tax free limits that apply to brothers, sisters, nephews etc. are significantly lower. After the "abattements" it's the same old 60%!

The best way is not to own property in France when you die!

you buy the house as an sci with your kids as partial owners… and therefore the company never actually dies… no inheritance??

And if it did go through at a low price, the "plus value" would be greater when it eventually got sold so State would get more Capital Gains Tax. As you say they have everything covered.

Thanks Catharine for your comments and sensible points. Schoolmarmish admonishments from other directions are however are less welcome. I think that I understood your original point well enough Shirley but don't go along with the idea that because I don't actually agree with everything that somebody says that the same person has the right to question my intellectual grasp in public. I had plenty of that during my first marriage! I do however agree with you when you say that there are plenty of nutters around.

Yup, I have friends who did that but they had to pay the full duty on a realistic price. It was a bit more complex than that as they had originally bought the house together. On the same lines my friend who has just got married, when her husband (no 1, which is why she didn't want to remarry) left her and she changed the car Carte Grise to just her name instead of joint names, she had to pay the full whack as if she had bought the car from a stranger, even though no money at all changed hands. The state will always make you pay here.

I would imagine the notaire, who is supposed to act on behalf of the state, would insist that a realistic price was used so that the state receives the correct equivalent of "stamp duty"

What about the viergé (don't know how to spell it) system, where you sell your house yet remain in it with an income until you die. Could that work?

Hi Catherine

As far as I'm aware, your personal property does indeed come under the jurisdiction of the country of your citizenship. Your real estate property, however, is governed by the country in which it is situated. The proposed changes I mentioned earlier, which come in to force in 2015, only apply to French residents from other EU countries, so not Americans and South Africans.

As for getting around the 60% - the only solution I can see is as you say, to sell your French property before you pop off!

I have been tangled up with someone for the last four years, so this thread peeked my curiosity. But as we are financially independent of each other and don't have children, I suppose there's no point in getting married, and this way we can leave our inheritances to our own nephews and nieces. Bummer about the French nabbing 60% though. Anyway of getting around that? Especially if one is just a French resident but not a national? I spoke to an avocat about fifteen years ago and he told me that my inheritance would come under the jurisdiction of the country of my citizenship (USA and South Africa.) But I am not sure whether this includes my house here. Perhaps I need to sell my house before I die? Even if it's one of those reverse mortgage plans. (And thank you for your birthday wishes, Catharine.)

Catharine ... sounds like two good pieces of advice. Which I will for sure think about ... after I am done thinking about the "what will happen to my child if I am unmarried" etc. and after I have talked to M. Barlet. Hahaha. Yes - this is for sure the 'unromantic thread'.

Haha David. If you are a fossil, then I am the result of the baby-boomers hang for divorcing. I come from divorced parents (a so-called 'good' break-up, no fighting etc.) and that might be the reason why I have no romantic notion about marriage, but think that two people definately can make a commitment to each other without being married ... Anyhow - I guess thats a whole different discussion. For now I want to focus on the hard facts.

Emily - excactly. We are really down to the practical side of life here, right. :)

We do not, so far, really have money or pensions to take care of (sad, but true) - but my boyfriend does have a job that eventually (and off course in the worst case scenario) could leave me open to being sued by clients ... so that is something to look into.


I'm sorry Shirley but I feel (that albeit unwittingly) your post comes across as rather rude. Please don't use caps and SHOUT at people. It doesn't go down well.

Anyway - Dear Ditte - here are my thoughts.

1. Contact Guillaume Barlet via the Friendly advice group. He is a bilingual 'juriste' and can put you in touch with a v good local (Biarritz) notiare / advocat once he has advised you. I cannot recommend Guillaume and Antoine highly enough.

2. On a personal level - I have been given two pieces of advice about marriage which have always stayed with me and which you should consider whatever the tax implications.....!

A) Marriage is basically insane so never ever marry someone unless you feel that you cannot live without being with them. Forever. And marrying them.

B) Only ever marry someone who is kind.

Hope this helps!