Comparing U.S. and French Divorce

A recent article in The Huffington Post took a closer look at the differences between how the U.S. and France deal with divorce. What it found was a stark difference between the two countries.

Drama v. No Drama

Divorce in France seems to be without the drama of a U.S. divorce. France forbids cross examinations, depositions, and sworn testimonies, which leads to lower legal fees, faster trials, and therefore, less drama. French divorce is very unique in that the judge speaks with both parties – alone – meaning without their attorneys being present – for at least ten minutes in order to determine if the party is able to reconcile. Also, much of the divorce process in France is administrative, rather than a “he said, she said” debacle. Also, transcripts are not made in lower court proceedings. If an appeal is sought it is tried “de novon,” meaning, “start all over again.”

Divorce and Support

France’s stance on parenting after divorce is similar to the U.S. process of alternating weekends, holidays, and breaks. In terms of paying child support, in the U.S. there are set guidelines that are adhered to. It seems that in France there are simply suggestions for payment. Spousal support / alimony¬†seems to be a “non-thing” in France – rather than payments paid out over a certain term, there is a one-time lump sum property settlement.


Overall it seems that France’s divorce system is one that is more compassionate that the U.S.’s seeming love of trials and opposition. It’s a more holistic approach when it comes to figuring out next steps in one’s romantic future. Rather it seems France yearns to downplay all the things that make U.S. divorces the talk of the town – finances, lifestyle, personal idiosyncrasies. And because of that, it might be strikingly evident, and easy to conclude that divorce in France might well just be…easier – at least when it comes to the divorce proceedings.

Source: The Huffington Post, C’est la Vie, Y’all: How the French Get Divorced, September 29, 2014

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