13 Replies



Hello, Can anyone tell me if a wife remains in France & the husband returns to the UK (no children) & then the couple divorce,will the wife get the house in sole name. There was another point to this that the husband was paying the wife maintenance as she has not worked probably for 20 years is not fluent in french & is almost retirement age. The husband stopped paying maintenance which obviously left the wife in a mess. She now claims money via the social system in France. Any answers would help,I am just a friend of the lady in question. Thanks  

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George's girl 1425230469

The question of the house depends on lots of issues. Whose name(s) was the house in when it was bought? What does the divorce settlement say about the house, is it taken into consideration for alimony purposes? She must go back to the Court where the divorce took place to get her arrears in alimony, it is not up to the French State to support her. I am assuming you are talking British people here, and that the divorce was filed in the UK?  

LRV24 1425232032

A divorce is in its simplest form a legal annulation of a marriage. It is normal to have a financial settlement at the same time. Sometimes this can be done amicably without courts or solicitors but often it means a day in court. At this point the 'estate' will be divided. If your friend and her ex husband only had the French house an not much else a Judge could ask for it to be sold and the proceeds split or for the one who stayed in residence to buy out the other. Where children are involved child maintain since will be sorted out but it is rare for one partner to pay maintenance to the other if they are childless. Once the estate is divided it's stand on your own two feet time.

Melou 1425232917

More information needed, Sandpiper! But reading between the lines it seems that a) the couple were married in UK; b) they have divorced in the UK; c) they have a property in France (where the wife remains); and d) they have a property in UK (where the husband is).

 With no children involved it appears that they have decided on a mutually agreed settlement, which basically looks like a house each. In an uncontested divorce that's fine. However, it would be unusual for any maintenance to be paid after divorce - neither party has any continuing responsibility to the other, their marriage is over.

As George's Girl says, what needs to be done regarding passing the ownership of the French property fully to the wife will depend on the basis of purchase (sole name/joint names/SCI/even tontine may effect it). Time to consult a notaire! Whatever the outcome, I think that there will be fees to pay, because effectively it is like half the house being sold, even though no money changes hands. 

Foxie-986308 1425233866

I can't see any obvious reason why the wife would automatically get the house, why should she? But as said, it all depends on the circumstances of the divorce, how much money the husband has, whose fault was the breakup deemed to be, who sued who, etc. Every settlement is different.

Sounds like a nice easy life...

Melou 1425235570

Oh come on, Foxie! Since when was a UK divorce settled on the basis of "whose fault it was", or "how much money does the husband have"?

No blame comes into it, and all the assets, husband, or wife, or joint, basically go into the pot (unless you are rich enough to have set up a pre-nuptial agreement, of course). That's the Law. So it is now very easy for couples to settle things amicably between them, broadly on this basis.

But the specific ownership of French property does bring difficulties into this agreement.

Nirvana 1425237690

If it helps we viewed a property once for sale due to a divorce.

the man turned up with the notaire when we viewed but neither him or his wife were allowed to live in the house until it sold hence the notaire held all of the keys.

Foxie-986308 1425239225

I would have thought it makes all the difference how much money he has - if he hasn't got much, you won't get much.

You must know nicer people than I do because the couples that I know who have got divorced have mostly argued bitterly about the settlement, amicable isn't a word that came to mind.

Melou 1425239340

That would be because the divorce was French, with only French property involved, Choosing.

Melou 1425239598

Foxie - ah, such is life! But I do detect a tingle of sexism in your view . . . but women have property rights too! It's not all just down to waht the man has. It can be very amicable - I've been there, got the sweatshirt, sorted it all privately and in a grown up way, and my ex-wife now visits us regularly in the calm of Dordogne. 

George's girl 1425240580

The OP says quite honestly that the ex husband was paying the wife alimony but defaulted on the payments. It also states there are no children. I get alimony paid, so do know it is possible,  and usual, even though some of you say it is not!

the lady in question needs to see a legal bod, not ask questions here. No case is the same.

LRV24 1425241479

Your last sentence says it all GG.There is absolutely no point in us guessing what her circumstances are.

JohnRobert-515279 1425241803

I agree with George's girl,( having been married and divorced in France)

but then we should ask , why are you asking for info on this site for something that needs French legislation?

kind. Regards


JohnRobert-515279 1425241896

Sorry I had omitted to say , I am just a friend of the person that is answering the question ( smiley) 

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