Free union concerns two people of the same sex or of different sexes, sharing a community of life.

The only difference with a married or PACS couple is that it is a de facto union. That is to say, unofficial.

Should we deduce from this that they have no rights and therefore no obligations?

For many, this is the beauty of cohabitation: There are more rights than obligations. However, can we assimilate cohabitation to total freedom, free from all constraints?

At the risk of disappointing more than one, it is a false idea: cohabitation is not ignored by law.

Article 515-8 of the Civil Code regulates the relationship between cohabiting partners according to which " Cohabitation is a de facto union, characterized by a common life presenting a character of stability and continuity, between two people, of the different sex or of the same sex, who live as a couple.. "

This de facto situation, if it is stable, will be recognized under certain conditions by social organizations and administrative services.

However, unlike marriage (marriage certificate) and PACS (PACS agreement), there are no documents entered in the civil status of cohabiting partners to attest to their community of life.

So how do you prove a de facto relationship and once recognized, what impact does this recognition have on the relationship between cohabiting partners?

Proof of cohabitation

Proof of cohabitation can be reported by a certificate of cohabitation issued by the town hall or, by any means (Testimonies, declarations on honor, etc.).

The certificate of cohabitation

Since Decree No. 2015-1342 of 23 October 2015, town halls have been exempt from issuing such a certificate (it no longer appears on the list of documents issued by the administration).

It is a choice which will depend on the policy followed by the mayors.

Some town halls will issue it, others will not. You must therefore contact the municipal service on which you depend to find out about their practices.

In case of issuance of the community certificate:

Articles R.113-5 to R.113-9 of the code of relations between the public and the administration governing the proof of civil status will apply.

The following parts must be produced:

  • Identity document (passport identity card)
  • Proof of address (rent receipt, invoices, etc.)
  • Certificate from family, relatives, neighbors, friends… to testify to the existence of a common life.

This community certificate has no legal value. It is only an attestation. Its probative value is very limited but essential if one wants to benefit from fiscal and social rights.

The sworn statement

It is a question of writing on plain paper a certificate by which the two partners recognize living together and sharing a community of life and interests.

It must be dated and signed by both partners.

No action is necessary in the event of a break-up between the partners.

The social and fiscal situation of cohabiting partners

Social Security

If one of the cohabiting partners benefits from social security coverage, it will extend to his spouse who will become his beneficiary if they have a child in common or in the event of death.

Family allowances

If the couple lives together and one of the spouses receives a housing allowance, or benefits for children, their partner will be taken into account for the assessment and payment of the benefits.

If the spouse is entirely dependent on him, this will modify the family quotient and the rights to allowances will be reassessed upwards.

However, if the spouse works, his income will be counted in the calculation of the household rights and may therefore be revalued downwards.

The tax declaration

Cohabitation does not change anything with regard to taxes.

Everyone declares their income separately, even if they live together.

The fate of debts between cohabiting partners

The patrimonial relations (all that relates to the management of the goods and the finances) of the married couples and Pacsés are governed by a whole set of texts which are imposed on them.

Whether it is the primary matrimonial regime or the PACS agreement… the debts are strictly divided between the spouses in application of the rules of solidarity and representation.

If the status of cohabiting partners tends to be similar to those of married or PACS couples, in particular during their separation from the right of visitation and accommodation of common children, the right to lease ...

There is no provision regulating the common debts of cohabiting partners.

Case law does not admit any solidarity based on article 220 of the civil code (Cass. Civ. 1st of May 2, 2001, n ° 98-22.836)

Each partner must therefore bear alone the expenses of everyday life that he has incurred.

Whoever has paid the rents, the invoices ... that is to say, all the current charges of the accommodation occupied with his partner will not be able to claim any reimbursement. (Cass. Civ., 1st of October 17, 2000, n ° 98-19.527)

Each spouse is therefore solely responsible for all sums spent and debts incurred.

In order for the two cohabiting partners to be jointly and severally engaged, their two names must appear on all the documents and contracts governing their life together.

Concretely, contracts for the supply of gas, electricity, etc. Loan contracts (if they buy movable or real estate together, etc.) must be concluded and signed in pairs.

To manage the payment of current charges, they will also be able to open a joint account, since this possibility is open to everyone, roommates, friends, several members of a family, etc. Without losing sight of the fact that such an account has many drawbacks if the 'we want to close it.

However, in the event of separation, the fate of the lease and the rights of visitation and accommodation of the children is strictly regulated to align with the status of married couples or Pacsés.


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