Divorce Rates and Frequency of Grounds In France


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1996: 117,716 divorces pronounced
50,490 were for fault (43%)
49,463 were joint petition (42%)
15,876 were unilateral petition with consent (13%)
1,708 were de facto separation (1.5%)
75 were for mental disturbance (0.06%)
"Divorces for breakdown of conjugal life, that is divorce on the ground of mental disturbance for over six years (Civil Code Article 238) and divorce for de facto separation for over six years (Article 237), have become the residual cases; the second is practically unused except where there is no other way to get one's matrimonial freedom-which would explain the high proportion of petitions by wives (42%).

The hardship clause of Article 240, aimed at preventing divorce from being automatic proof that the conditions are met, is subject to the first instance judge's sovereign power to evaluate; in 95% of cases it is the wife who invokes it; this usually involves an abandoned wife who wants above all to stop her husband's remarriage; it rarely succeeds and the fear that judges, in the exercise of their sovereign power, may give divergent interpretations according to their beliefs and convictions has proved unfounded; decisions are continuously uniform."


Fault cases are usually based on breaches of conjugal obligations. Complaints frequently are: adultery, drunkenness, and domestic violence, apart from some particular ones which show a certain lack of concern for the family, "such as immoderate passion for computers, or for the restoration of a boat."

-- From Rubellin-Devichi, Jacqueline. "How Matters Stand Now in Relation to Family Law Reform" in The International Survey of Family Law 2000 Edition. Jordan Publishing Ltd., 2000, p. 155-157.

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