The ever-changing and often-confusing PACS laws

One of the lovely aspects of French bureaucracy is that when a law or rule changes, only some people seem to know about it. So while you try to stay informed and act according to the law, more often than not, you will be wrong when it comes to dealing with fonctionnaires and what they believe is the law… or the new law… or not a law at all. Let’s illustrate with some examples pertaining to PACS.

Example 1: Until June 30, 2008, both partners of a couple intending to get PACSed needed a certificat de non-PACS (or non-pacte). Many official Tribunal websites explicity say this, such as Macon‘s: “Jusqu’au 30 juin 2008, les candidats au PACS doivent fournir un certificat attestant qu’aucun d’eux n’a préalablement conclu de PACS. Ce document s’obtient auprès du greffe du TI de son lieu de naissance, ou, en cas de naissance à l’étranger, au greffe du tribunal de grande instance de Paris.”  You may infer that this means neither partner needs this certificat in order to get PACSed as of July 1, 2008. But you would be wrong, because Macon forgot the second paragraph.

From the Ministère de la Justice’s site: “En outre, le candidat de nationalité étrangère, qui n’a pas d’acte de naissance français, doit produire une attestation de son ambassade ou de son consulat, qui indique quelles sont les pièces qu’il doit produire pour justifier,  qu’au regard de la loi de l’Etat dont il est ressortissant, il est majeur, célibataire et qu’il n’est pas placé sous tutelle.  Il doit fournir un certificat de non PACS (délivré par le TGI de Paris) et un certificat de non inscription au répertoire civil annexe (délivré par le service central de l’état civil) s’il réside en France depuis plus d’un an.”

Even more confusing was this paragraph that used to be on the service-public.fr site: “Jusqu’au 30 juin 2008, les partenaires nés en France doivent également fournir un certificat attestant qu’ils ne sont pas déjà liés par un PACS (certificat de non-pacte). Ce document est délivré par le greffe du tribunal d’instance de leur lieu de naissance, ou, en cas de naissance à l’étranger, au greffe du tribunal de grande instance (TGI) de Paris. Il ne sera plus nécessaire de le présenter à compter du 1er juillet 2008.”

That last sentence only applies to the partenaires nés en France, but it’s not very clear, now is it? Today their site has a box on the right for instructions on how to obtain a certificat de non-PACS and it states: “depuis le 1er juillet 2008, ce formulaire n’est utilisable que par les personnes étrangères nées à l’étranger.” In short, French citizens born in France no longer need a certificat de non-PACS in order to get PACSed, but foreigners still do.

Example 2: When applying for or renewing a carte de séjour due to being PACSed, a recent certificat de PACS (no more than 3 months old) is usually needed to prove that you are indeed still PACSed. If your partner is French, this information will also be on his/her birth certificate, but it depends if your préfecture will actually accept this as proof.

Previously, you were required to go the Tribunal where you got PACSed in order to get this certificat. However, the law changed in January 2008, and now all requests must go through the TGI de Paris. My prefecture obviously did not know that last year when I renewed my CDS in April, and they instructed me to go to the Tribunal in Annecy. So I went there and was able to obtain the certificat even though the law (that I didn’t even know about) said I was supposed to go through Paris. But I was out of luck this March when my Tribunal apparently started observing the new law and refused to give me the certificat.

I wrote to the TGI de Paris for my certificat and received it within 10 days. Even though their website is still down and no one ever answers their phone, they will respond to mail. If you need to write to them for either the certificat de non-PACS in order to get PACSed or the certificat de PACS in order to renew your carte de séjour, here is the address:

Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris
Annexe Brabant
Service du PACS
4, boulevard du palais
75055 PARIS CEDEX 01

Write a letter explaining your état civil and why you are requesting the certificat. Include a copy of your passport or CDS or even your birth certificate and official translation in French for the certificat de non-PACS or a copy of your current CDS and original récépissé de l’enregistrement du PACS for the certificat de PACS, plus a self-addressed envelope that is NOT stamped. (It is important that they know your city of birth, instead of just the state or country.)

As with everything in France, this information could change tomorrow, but you might not hear about it until next year. And then it will change again.

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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