Co-habitation or concubinage
Cohabitation (or concubinage) is a free union, characterised by a stable life together, between two people who live as a couple. Taxation is separate and no procedure is required to break up the relationship. On death, the surviving cohabitant is a third party who can only inherit if a will has been made, with an inheritance tax of 60%. Even with a will, the normal French rules of inheritance apply, with ascendants and descendants receiving the bulk of the inheritance.
PACS or civil solidarity pact
The civil solidarity pact (PACS) is a contract in which the partners owe each other mutual and material assistance. It is registered at the Town Hall or with a notaire. They can choose between separation of property (the default system) and joint ownership. They submit their tax declaration together.. The PACS can be terminated by a simple declaration. On death, the surviving partner may become an heir if a will has been made, with exemption from inheritance tax. Once again, even with a will, the normal French rules of inheritance apply, with ascendants and descendants receiving the bulk of the inheritance.
Finally, marriage is a solemn union with duties and rights. It has four regimes. It can only be dissolved by divorce. In the event of death, the surviving spouse is an heir, benefiting from exemption from inheritance tax, the lifetime right to live in the house occupied by the couple and the survivor’s pension.
Who can be PACSed?
Each partner must be of age. If one of the partners is a foreigner, he or she must have reached the age of majority in his or her country.
The partners must not be married or in another civil union.
They must not have any direct family ties to each other.
How do you go about getting a PACS?
The two people must register a joint declaration of civil partnership either with the civil registrar (at the town hall) of the town in which they live (free of charge) or with a notaire (about 250 euros). If you have your will made at the same time (VERY IMPORTANT if you have any property), the typical cost is 400 euros.
The future partners must appear in person and together.
Note: if one of the partners is seriously unable to attend, the notaire may come to the couple’s home or hospital to register the PACS.
For further information, click on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F1618
The document you need to fill in can be found on https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/R51271
For information on getting married in France
If you do not speak French, you will need to have a certified translator present during the ceremony at the Town Hall which is the only place you can be married in France. You must have some connection to the Town Hall in question (where at least one of the future spouses is domiciled).
If you wish to have a religious wedding, it will be in addition to the town hall wedding.
Some town halls require that you have an interpreter present when you submit your documents for the wedding.