The New Article 310 of the French Civil Code for International Divorce Actions

01 Jan 1977

The variety and complexity of the legal issues that can confront a French court in an international divorce action may best be illustrated by a description of the basic factual pattern of, and the initial arguments advanced in, some of the more typical cases:

  1. French National Spouse v. Foreign National Spouse
  2. The Validity of a Prior Foreign Divorce Decree
  3. Foreign National Spouses With Immigrant Status in France
  4. Spouses of Foreign Nationality with Domiciliary Status in France

Although disparate, the facts of these four hypothetical cases point to and are unified by two salient legal issues: one jurisdictional in nature and the other pertaining to a choice of law determination. Firstly, as a preliminary matter, the party opposing the divorce almost invariably raises a jurisdictional objection, alleging that by virtue of foreign nationality and/or domicile, the French courts lack jurisdiction to hear the matter. Secondly, in the event that the jurisdictional objection is unsuccessful, the party advances a choice of law argument, requiring the court to apply a set of choice of law rules to determine whether French or foreign law will govern the merits of the proceeding. The new Art. 310 was enacted as part of the law of 11 July 1975 which substantially modified existing French divorce law.