The author, Kamila Groszkowska, M.A., points out that in France over the last several decades there has been a significant change in the approach to divorce and separation. The increase in the number of couples deciding to end a formal relationship reflects social evolution and changing attitudes towards marriage and partnerships. Parents going through the process of divorce or separation are no longer socially stigmatized, and the number of single parents and mixed families increases every year. These trends are also visible in French civil law.
Divorce procedures are becoming easier, and activities aimed at reaching an agreement between spouses or partners are being promoted. Currently, French law gives spouses the opportunity to conduct divorce proceedings without the participation of a judge, and couples in civil unions can end their relationship by unilateral declaration of will. At the same time, when it comes to determining the rules for the care of children after the breakdown of a relationship, the regulations encourage parents to dialogue and reach an agreement.
The principle of civil law is to maintain joint exercise of parental authority despite separation and the involvement of both parties in raising and educating children. The Supreme Council for the Family, an advisory body to the Prime Minister, in its official position emphasizes that the separation of parents should not affect the bond between each parent and their child1. This expert opinion is devoted to legal issues of establishing parental care after the breakdown of a relationship. In the first part, the author presents the rules for concluding and dissolving formal relationships, i.e. marriages and civil unions, in the context of parenthood. Then it discusses the legal aspects of determining the exercise of parental authority after the breakdown of a relationship, by mutual consent of the parties and, in the event of a conflict between parents, in the course of proceedings before a family court. The last part of the study concerns the implementation of provisions regarding parental care.