French law regulates two types of unions, marriage and civil union (Civil Solidarity Pact or PACS), and tolerates free union, which is regarded as a de facto situation. Originally, marriage was the only option. Social evolution has led the French legislature to create the PACS (1999), but this did not fully satisfy homosexual couples who, in 2013, obtained full access to marriage. Why then keeping two institutions? While similarities exist as to the formation of both forms of union, marriage remains more formalistic because rooted in tradition. Effects are not similar: while both marriage and civil union oblige to community of life, duty of mutual assistance, contribution to expenses and solidary liability for the couple’s debts, a few effects are limited to marriage alone. Those include the duty of fidelity, the possibility of using the spouse’s name and the protection of matrimonial housing. Indeed, the Civil Code keeps promoting and protecting the family dimension of marriage.
Les unions en France : l’embarras du choix ?,
8 J. Civ. L. Stud.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.lsu.edu/jcls/vol8/iss1/6