It’s been a year now that the reform in France of the mutual consent divorce proceedings has been improved. Before the reform of January 2017, if you and your spouse had decided to divorce amicably, you automatically needed to go before the judge to proceed, even if both spouses agreed on all the consequences (custody of the children, distribution of the assets, alimonies). This has changed, and for the best: You do not need to go before a judge anymore, which can save you time and money. Why? Depending on the jurisdictions (Paris? Nanterre? Versailles? Albi?) it sometimes took up to 6 months before you could get your day in court. All in all, the proceedings, as simple as it could be, could last over a year. And there was nothing attorneys could do, as this was the court’s agenda. So, if you were unlucky enough to live in Versailles – in that only respect, God bless the King – you had to wait a minimum of 6 months due to the court’s congestion and lack of clerks.

So now, the proceedings no longer require you to ‘voodoo’ any court’s clerk or judge or calendar, as you simply do not need them anymore: What you are going to need instead is an attorney and… a Notaire. It sounds like replacing a problem by another (talking about the Notaire, of course) but it is not. A Notaire, as opposed to the judge, is instructed by a client, just like an attorney and he/she is here to assist, not to judge. So, put it simpler, the new proceedings can divorce you within a month and a half. Instead of a year. Tempting, huh? Shorter means less time, and consequently less costs. But here is what you need to know though, to definitely give way to the temptation.

    1. You are going to need not one, but two attorneys, one for each spouse. It might sound as a hurdle, but the idea here is to protect each one of you in the absence of a judge. “Why is that?” Because the judge had the responsibility to check that all the provisions of your “convention de divorce” – contract of divorce – were not against public policy. Meaning that the judge controlled that there was no unconscionability of a more empowered spouse against the other. Since It now is the lawyers’ duty (and the Notaire as well), reinforcement of that legal protection has been satisfied by the requirement of a lawyer for each spouse.
    2. The attracting ‘one month and a half’ is realistic when you do not need to distribute real estate. Why is that? Because you may divorce through a mutual agreement only after selling and distributing your common real estate. Black letter law.
    3. That new reform does not seem to be recognized by the US authorities. But American readers, don’t panic, we have our ways to cover your back.

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