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What Is PACS in France?

Marriage is a fascinating human innovation. It’s a way to tie yourself together with a romantic partner ‘for better or worse.’ The act of getting married has been around for a very long time and the way it works has changed dramatically in the last couple of hundred years. 

There are many reasons why people choose to get married but on a more practical note it provides a lot of legal protections and tax benefits to the happy couple. 

Marriage in France is quite similar to marriage in a lot of other western countries but there is also another option available to the public called PACS. So what is PACS? Why was it created? Is it the same as marriage? Read on to find out more. 

What Exactly Is PACS?

The word PACS is an acronym that stands for ‘Pacte Civil de Solidarité.’ It is a union between two people that is very similar to marriage. PACS was originally created in 1999 as a way to give same-sex couples the same legal protections and tax benefits as heterosexual couples. 

In 2013, the French constitution was changed to create full marriage equality for same-sex couples. This meant that the definition of marriage was changed to not discriminate on the basis of gender.

Who Gets PACS’d?

Today both same-sex and opposite-sex couples choose to have PACS unions in almost equal numbers. It’s typically seen as an option for couples who would like access to the same legal rights and protections as marriage. Except they might not necessarily want to walk down the aisle just yet, or ever. 

There are a lot of different reasons why people choose to get PACS’d instead of getting hitched. Personally, I am PACS’d and the reason was more about timing. It made sense to be legally linked to my partner so that we can be taxed as a couple and be afforded the same legal protections as married people. We do intend on eventually getting married, but weddings take a long time to plan, are expensive, and we needed the legal protections now. We didn’t want to wait until COVID was over so that my family could fly all the way from Australia. 

Is PACS Identical To Marriage?

PACS is not identical to marriage but it’s pretty close. The easiest way of looking at it is a bit like saying it’s ‘Marriage Lite.’ For example, PACS’d couples don’t have exactly the same adoption or inheritance rights as married couples. However, it is much easier and less expensive to dissolve a PACS relationship than a marriage. In most cases, the couple just needs to send an official letter to the local court. When you enter a PACS agreement, a contract is drawn up and signed by both parties to stipulate ownership of assets and the terms of dissolving the agreement. 

What Are The Rules Of Getting PACS’d?

There are only a few stipulations when it comes to a PACS agreement. One member of the couple must be a French citizen. Neither of you can be currently PACS’d or married to anyone else and you must live together. If one member of the couple is foreign, they will need to prove that they are not legally married to another person in the country they originally come from. 

It’s important to remember that the French PACS union isn’t always recognised by other countries. So before getting PACS’d, it’s worth looking at the reasons why you are doing it and assessing if it definitely fulfils these requirements. 

Fun Fact: You don’t actually have to be romantically involved with someone to get PACS’d to them. So in theory you could actually get PACS’d to your best friend or room mate.