Assistance required understanding divorce procedure in France
Thread poster: Wendy Cummings

Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Feb 25, 2015

A client has asked me to translate her divorce certificate, but what she has given me is the "ordonnance de non-conciliation".
- From what I gather, she was married in England, to an Italian. The couple had one child and had their marital home in France.
- The husband filed for divorce, but the wife did not attend the reconciliation hearing (I think she had already moved back to England).
- He then served on her the ordonnance, which not only determines the domicile/wardship of the child, but also contains a summons for her to attend the divorce hearing, in order to "voir prononcer le divorce d'entre les epoux" and to "entendre ordonner mention du dispositif du jugement a intervenir en marge de l'acte de mariage desdits epoux celebre le XX 1974 a Angleterre".
- I can only assume that this marginal note was never made since they would not have had access to the English marriage certificate, and otherwise the client would have given it to me.

Is anyone able to provide further information about what would have happened after this ordonnance in France? I presume the divorce hearing took place and a ruling was issued - shouldn't she have been sent a copy of the ruling? Would a "divorce certificate" have been produced and filed somewhere in France?

Many thanks for clarification, as otherwise I may need to inform the client that she doesn't actually have proof of her divorce...

Wendy


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Vinciane Arreghini  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:00
English to French
French divorce law and International Private Law Feb 25, 2015

Hello Wendy,

The case you are mentioning is quite complicated, especially because it falls under what it's called in law "International Private Law". International Private Law is a field within the law area that governs individuals involved in international legal situations. For instance, two French people marrying in France will not be governed by International Private Law as their situation is national. But the case you brought in falls under International Private Law because of the many foreign circumstances of the situation (the 2 nationalities of the parties, the place of marriage, etc.). Knowing that IPL does not only determine rules that apply for divorce or marriage but for all international private situations (such as nationality, accidents happening in country X between people of different nationalities, etc.).

Now, according to IPL in France, the law that must apply for divorce is the law of the marital home place. In your case, French law thus applies because the two spouses were living in France.

Concerning French procedure law for divorce, there are four different procedures, one being "divorce par consentement mutuel" and the three others that can be gathered under the "divorce en contentieux" type.
The "divorce par consentement mutuel" means that the two spouses fill in together the petition for divorce and agree on the divorce effects. I do not think that that is the procedure chosen in your case because only the husband made the petition and there is not "conciliation" in that procedure so there can not be a "non-conciliation".

In a "divorce en contentieux", only one spouse fill in the petition for divorce which is called "requête initiale". Then there is a "tentative de conciliation" following by the judgement. At the time of the "tentative de conciliation", the spouse that did not fill the petition for divorce is summoned by the courts service and the judge tries to make the spouses reach an agreement on the divorce effects. If this try fails, then the judge pronouces a "ordonnance de non-conciliation" to acknowledge that no agreement was made. The judge also pronouces temporary measures that will apply during the rest of the procedure until the final judgment is pronounced.

Given those pieces of information and the case elements you told about, I think that your client and her husband are in a "divorce en contentieux". Since she did not show up at the time of the "tentative de conciliation", no agreement could be made, which is why the judge pronounced a "ordonnance de non-conciliation". The two spouses are not divorced yet and this "ordonnance de non-conciliation" has nothing to do with a divorce certificate.

I hope this long message will help. I must add that I am not a lawyer so it would be greater if you could check the info I gave you. I did studied French law though and have a masters, which helped me answer to your question. Plus I did some research and found reliable info on a French lawyer website (http://www.cabinet-tonin.com/le-divorce-en-droit-francais---resume-_ad166.html).

Good luck to you


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Wendy Cummings  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:00
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Clarification on dates Feb 25, 2015

Dear Vinciane,
Thank you very much for taking time to write that detailed reply. It has certainly explained the procedure very well. And yes, from what I can make out it was definitely a divorce en contentieux, pour faute de l'epouse.

However, What I failed to mention in my post was that the Ordonnance de non conciliation was issued in 1980! I am assuming therefore that the final hearing took place long ago and the client is certainly under the belief she is divorced. It seems I have to ask my client whether she ever received the grosse de jugement. If not, she may be left in a difficult position as she is trying to remarry...

I presume she may be able to contact the court and obtain a copy of the ruling?


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mariealpilles  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:00
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
French divorce proceeding Feb 26, 2015

A divorce "pour faute" is very long and very difficult to get since it has practically disappeared from the verdicts. The "ordonnance de non-conciliation" can only have been pronounced after one of the spouses did not turn up - after having been duly summoned and with one party living abroad a delay of 2 months? It is valid for a whole year unless there is no date on the "ordonnance de non conciliation, in which case it is not valid at all and can be challenged by any good lawyer. The party abroad can contact any lawyer to be represented in court without actually having to be there. Good legal firms usually have "local" correspondents in other countries, so your client would not even have to travel.

Any way a translation of a divorce, to be valid and produced in any registry for filing and registration, has to be translated by a sworn translator used to the proceedings. You have most probably just received the "ordonnance de non conciliation", which basically means that a divorce can go ahead within one year from the date of the said "oedonnance". The expiry date has to appear on the "ordonnance" but check carefully because some magistrates are crafty when it comes to one party not appearing and being abroad; they do not put an expiry date, so the ordonnance is not valid at all.


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Vinciane Arreghini  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 06:00
English to French
Complicated case... Mar 2, 2015

Hello Wendy,

I am so sorry for this late response but I didn't see your new message. Thankfully, Marie answered very well to your question and I hope it helped you resolve this tricky situation

I have nothing to add except checking with your client whether she received any other document from the courts, especially a divorce certificate (which seems unlikely). If all she has is this expired ordonnance, then it appears that she is not divorced yet and can't remarry until she is. You need to check all that with her and she needs to get in touch with a lawyer!

Sorry again for being so late but I imagine you've already done what is necessary.

Take care,

Vicky


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Assistance required understanding divorce procedure in France

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