The New French Marriage in an International and Comparative Law Perspective

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 Last revised: 7 Jun 2017

See all articles by Angelique Devaux

Angelique Devaux

CHEUVREUX NOTAIRES; French Licensed Attorney (Diplômée Notaire), LL.M American Law (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law)

Date Written: April 12, 2014


“Drinking, eating, sleeping together is marriage it seems to me already” wrote Antoine Loysel, Jurisconsult, into Institutes Coutumières at the beginning of the 16th century.

After several failed attempts and the creation of a civil partnership designed as a semi-loophole to a heated debate and timely subject, it took France more than twelve years after the Netherlands to finally join the family of countries authorizing marriage of homosexual couples.

Equality is the key word of the French reform: Equality in the duties and rights that allow identical access to the legal protection that marriage provides opposite-sex couples, inspired from The Declaration of Human and Civic Rights of 26 August 1789.

To perfect the equality to an international level, the Act of 17 May 2013 included language that states that marriages performed in a foreign jurisdiction satisfy the legal requirements for marriages in France. The new bill also confirms to France’s traditional choice of law rule according to which the law of the nationality of each spouse applies to the substantive validity of marriage. In order to be effective, the statute adopts a new conflict of law rule providing that same-sex marriage would still be allowed when the national law, or the law of the residence, or the law of the domicile of one of the spouses allows it. Intended to translate an extensive and cosmopolitan access to same-sex marriage, the new rules of conflict of laws suffer in reality from imperfection and do not provide an equal access to marriage for all, in particular due to historical international conventions that superseded the law.

The difficulties for both gay and lesbian spouses occupy an even more prominent place in today's globalized world where more and more couples live outside their country of origin. As soon as cross-border elements come, the new definition of French marriage faces a multitude of challenges related to immigration, benefits, adoption, international wealth management, matrimonial property regime, divorce, and succession.

What are the surrounding practical consequences when same-sex married couples decide to move abroad, and how to solve or to anticipate all the dormant problems?

In this paper, I am examining some of the potential issues related to same-sex marriage and conflict of laws in a comparative law perspective, and I suggest a new approach to deal with these coming questions in accordance with the international and European tools that may serve individuals from countries that already have opened marriage to same-sex couples, and those who want to join the international family.

Keywords: same-sex marriage, France, comparative law, marriage, divorce, succession, matrimonial property regime, AMP, surrogacy, conflict of laws

JEL Classification: K33, K10, K19, K39

Suggested Citation

Devaux, Angelique, The New French Marriage in an International and Comparative Law Perspective (April 12, 2014). Tulane Journal of International & Comparative Law, Vol. 23 No.1 (winter 2014), Available at SSRN: or

Angelique Devaux (Contact Author)


55 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris, 75008


French Licensed Attorney (Diplômée Notaire), LL.M American Law (Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law) ( email )

530 West New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
United States

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