U.S. citizens planning a same sex French marriage

Certificat de coutume et de célibat for the Americans

Same sex marriages between an American and a person legally domiciled in France is authorized.

There is a long list of documents that must be obtained in order to be married in France. Each local French city hall has its own check list and such list needs to be reviewed with care. If in doubt as to the adequacy of a particular document, it is advisable to informally show it to the local official and thereby have sufficient time to obtain a more satisfactory document.

Certificat de coutume et de célibat

It is quite possible that the local French city hall check list will include the requirement that the American provide a “certificat de coutume et de célibat”. 

A certificat de coutume et de célibat is what Americans call a “legal opinion”. For the purpose of using such a document before a French administrative body in connection with a to-be-celebrated French-American marriage, it should be prepared by an attorney admitted to the practice of the law in France and in the United States. Naturally, the opinion must be in French.

Documents Required

When attorney Polier delivers to his American client a “Certificat de coutume et de célibat” (a legal opinion), he will normally require the following:

  • Current address and telephone number of the American fiancé(e) 
  • A good (enlarged) photocopy of the signature and identity photo pages of the passport of the American financé(e) 
  • A copy of each divorce decree, PACS, and civil partnership agreement  (if any) of the American fiancé(e)
  • Identification of the state(s) where the American fiancé(e) has his or her “roots” (For example, place of  birth, last U.S. domicile, votes in U.S. elections, own real property, etc.)

Normally, a Certificat de coutume et de célibat can be issued within 48 hours after the future American partner signs a short attestation prepared by the attorney Polier. (See sample attestation and translation into English below.)

Green Cards

 Attorney Polier also assists PACS’ed French nationals in obtaining the right to reside in the United States.

Author: Jonathon Wise Polier
Avocat aux Barreaux de Paris et de New York
Attorney-at-Law (Paris & New York)

Sample Attestation
Annexe au Certificat de Coutume de Maître POLIER Annex to the Certificat de Coutume of Attorney POLIER
 La soussignée, Judy SMITH, née dans l’État du New York, États-Unis d’Amérique le 22 mai 1964, déclare sur l’honneur que : The undersigned, Judy SMITH, born in the State of New York, United States of American, on 22 May 1964 hereby declares as follows:
  • Je suis célibataire, majeure et capable de me marier ;
  • Je n’ai jamais été marié et je n’ai jamais conclu un PACS (pacte civil de solidarité) ;
  • Je suis de nationalité américaine (numéro de passeport américain 12345678).
  • I am single, of age, and have the legal capacity to be married;’
  • I have never been married and I have never entered into a PACS (a civil union); and
  • I am a citizen of the United States of American and my U.S. passport number is 12345678.
Je délivre la présente attestation à Maître POLIER, Avocat aux Barreaux de NEW-YORK et de PARIS.  I am delivering this attestation to Attorney POLIER, a member of the New York and Paris Bars.
La soussignée est parfaitement consciente que l’article 441-7 du code pénal réprime l’établissement d’attestation faisant état des faits matériellement inexacts.  The undersigned understands that Article 441-7 of the French Penal Code provides for punishment if an attestation states facts that are materially incorrect.
Fait à New York City, le 11 mai 2015.  Executed in New York City on 11 May 2015
 Judy Smith   Judy Smith