Specific provisions concerning prenuptial agreement are set forth in the French Civil Code. Code civil (C. civ.) (Civil Code) Arts. 1387 et seq. (Fr.).
While prenuptial agreements are permitted the parties do not have unlimited freedom of contract. The parties must appear together before a notaire prior to the wedding and select one of the regimes matrimoniaux offered by the French Civil Code. The parties can select their preferred property regime, choosing between several versions of the community property and other regimes, including separation de biens (separate property) and participation aux acquets. Whatever statutory regime is selected, it can be modified to accommodate their specific needs, but any modification is subject to specified public policy limits; there are many ““primary regime”” rules governing spousal relationships that the parties may not alter by contract.
Where parties choose not to enter into a pre-marital agreement, the default regime de communaute legale, a community property regime, governs the legal relationship of the spouses.
There is no duty to disclose either assets or debts prior to entering into a prenuptial agreement in France. Typically, the parties will have the agreement drawn up by a notaire (who has a duty to inform and advise the parties as to the agreement) and will then present the agreement to the registrar at the time of the wedding, the effect of which will be to bind third parties to the agreement.
Our office has worked on many U.S. – France prenuptial agreements, always collaborating with local counsel in all jurisdictions as appropriate.
Disclaimer: We are admitted to practice only in New York but work as appropriate with lawyers throughout all U.S. states and throughout the world.