Who wants to get married anyway …

You’re a guy and you fancy a guy.

You’re a girl and you fancy a girl.

You’re straight and you fancy someone from the opposite sex?

Until Death Us Do Part

You’re a guy and you fancy a guy.

You’re a girl and you fancy a girl.

You’re straight and you fancy someone from the opposite sex?

But the one you fancy does not want to get married, or your country forbids same-sex marriages?

So what to do?

France has the answer.

You sign an agreement to love and honor and look after, and you’re tied down in matrimony for as long as you wish to be.

Such an agreement is called a PACS (Pacte Civil de Solidarité) – a civil agreement of solidarity. You register the agreement at the court of law (Tribunal d’Instance) where you live.

Sounds simple?

Is simple.

Seven hundred thousand couples have already registered themselves as thus pacted – pacsés – since Law No 99-944 of November 18 1999 has made it possible to get hitched in this manner.

There are however a few rules and regulations to comply with before the champagne corks can start popping.

You must be over 18 and free. In other words, you can not be married to someone else already. Therefore, widows and widowers must provide the death certificate of their late spouse, and divorced people must provide the divorce decree.

You can’t also already be pacted with someone else.

You must also provide proof of residence in France, and the two love-birds about to be pacted must share a domicile in the area of registration.

Just as foreigners can get hitched in France, so they can also get pacted, but they must provide documents through their consulate that they are free to sign a PACS.

Once pacted, couples have the same tax and social benefits and legal obligations as a couple who got married in the old-fashioned way. And should the relationship one day end, then, they must get unpacted at a court of law where lawyers will divide up their jointly-accumulated property.

Sounds very much like marriage, does it not?

So what are the benefits of pacting instead of getting married?

The only benefit is that same-sex couples can pact whereas it is still illegal in France for them to get married.

But come to think of it, there is another benefit. By pacting you get only a spouse and not a mother-in-law.

Marilyn Z. Tomlins

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