Article 17 - Information made available to the public
In civil matters, since the introduction of Law No 2010-769 of 9 July 2010, amended by Law No 2014-873 on genuine equality between women and men, the Family Court (juge aux affaires familiales) can issue a protection order (ordonnance de protection). This measure is governed by the following provisions:
- Articles 515-9 et seq. of the Civil Code,
- Articles 1136-3 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure for the rules of procedure.
A protection order is issued in the following situations:
- in cases of violence in an intimate relationship;
- in cases of violence by a former spouse, partner or cohabitant;
- for an adult threatened with forced marriage.
The violence must have the consequence of endangering one of the members of the couple and/or their children. A court will issue a protection order if it considers there to be serious reasons for considering it likely that the alleged acts of violence took place and that the victim is in danger.
The Family Court can issue a protection order independently of any divorce proceedings and without the need for ongoing criminal proceedings.
The court may order the following measures:
- An order prohibiting certain specifically designated persons from meeting and making contact with the victim;
- An order prohibiting the possession or the carrying of a weapon;
- For married couples: Authorisation for the spouses to reside separately specifying which of the two spouses will continue to reside in the marital home;
- For cohabitants or partners who have contracted a civil partnership (PACS): Allocation of the marital home to the victim except in special circumstances;
- Organisation of the rules for exercising parental authority and setting a contribution towards the maintenance and upbringing of any children, a contribution to the costs of married life or other material assistance for partners in a civil partnership;
- Authorisation for the victim to conceal their domicile or residence and to specify as an address for service the address of their lawyer or of the public prosecutor;
- Authorisation for the victim to conceal their domicile or residence and to indicate as an address for the needs of their daily life the address of a qualified legal person;
- Provisional approval of legal aid for the victim.
These measures (in particular the order prohibiting meetings or contacts with certain persons) are, above all, preventive in nature. They may therefore fall within the scope of Regulation No 606/2013.
These measures are temporary: they can only be ordered for a maximum period of six months. They can be extended if, before the expiry of that period, an application is made for divorce, legal separation or relating to the exercise of parental authority.
The average length of the procedure is 33 days.
Referral to the court: The applicant may bring an action before the Family Court by an application lodged at or sent by a writ of summons (assignation). In urgent cases, the applicant can seek interim relief. The writ of summons must be served on the defendant and on the public prosecutor’s office.
Summons of parties : The Family Court has the parties summoned to the hearing by any appropriate means.
Hearing : The process is oral. The parties argue their own cases but may be assisted or represented by a lawyer.
Notice: A protection order is served (by a bailiff (huissier de justice)) unless the court decides that it should be served by the Registry by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt or through administrative channels where there is a serious and imminent danger to the safety of a person concerned by a protection order or where there is no other means of service.
The court also communicates the decision to the public prosecutor in order to ensure the follow-up of the ordered measures. The public prosecutor forwards the decision for information to the appropriate police or gendarmerie services. In addition, if the procedure reveals the existence of a child in danger, the court refers the matter to the appropriate services of the public prosecutor (juvenile department) after the hearing.
Register: There is no special register of measures ordered in connection with protection orders. However, if a court issues an order prohibiting a child from leaving French territory without the authorisation of both parents, the order must be registered in the Wanted Persons Database.
Appeal: The decision is subject to appeal within 15 days of being served. The defendant may also make an application for the lifting or the variation of the protection order or for a temporary waiver of some of its obligations.
Enforcement of the protection order:
The measures ordered in connection with a protection order are enforceable, i.e. they may be put into effect immediately after the decision has been served (even if the defendant appeals), with the assistance of the law enforcement services if necessary.
The protected person may refer the matter to the police or the gendarmerie in the event of a breach of one or more of the measures ordered by the Family Court.
Failure to comply with the measures concerned constitutes a punishable offence under Article 227-4-2 of the Penal Code. The offence is punishable by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of €15,000.
If the parents have joint parental authority, the court authorising the concealment of the victim’s address must also lay down the arrangements for maintaining the link between the person causing the risk and the child through a third party or through the use of a meeting place as well as the payment of any maintenance allowance by bank transfer.
Article 18 (a)(i) - the authorities which are competent to order protection measures and issue certificates in accordance with Article 5
The Family Court orders all protection measures and issues the certificates provided for in Article 5.
A Family Court with territorial jurisdiction is:
- the court of the place where the family’s residence is;
- if the parents live separately, the court of the place of residence of the parent with whom the minor children habitually live in the case of joint exercise of parental authority, or the court of the place of residence of the parent who exercises parental authority alone;
- in other cases, the court of the place where the person who did not initiate the proceedings resides.
The application for the certificate must be submitted in duplicate and must include a precise indication of the supporting documents. Representation by a lawyer is not required. A refusal to issue the certificate can be challenged before the president of the Regional Court (tribunal de grande instance), as the appeal need not be made through a lawyer.
Article 18 (a)(ii) - the authorities before which a protection measure ordered in another Member State is to be invoked and/or which are competent to enforce such a measure
The authorities before which a protection measure ordered in another Member State must be invoked and/or which are competent to enforce such a measure are the police and the gendarmerie.
Article 18 (a)(iii) - the authorities which are competent to effect the adjustment of protection measures in accordance with Article 11(1)
The president of the Regional Court or their delegate, sitting in relief proceedings, makes adjustments to the foreign protective measures if necessary. The application is made through a writ of summons; if the case requires prompt action, the court hearing applications for interim relief may allow a summons to attend a hearing at a stated time, even during public holidays or days that are not normally working days. Representation by a lawyer is not required.
With regard to territorial jurisdiction, the rules of the case-law giving priority to the requirements of the sound administration of justice are applied. The president of the regional court of the place where the protected person plans to stay or to reside can therefore receive applications.
Article 18 (a)(iv) - the courts to which the application for refusal of recognition and, where applicable, enforcement is to be submitted in accordance with Article 13
An application for refusal of recognition or enforcement must be submitted to the president of the regional court hearing applications for interim relief (taking into account the nature of the case, the case can be delegated to a Family Court).
The application is made through a summons; if the case requires prompt action, the court hearing applications for interim relief may allow a summons to attend a hearing at a stated time, even during public holidays or days that are not normally working days. Representation by a lawyer is not required.
With regard to territorial jurisdiction, the rules derived from case-law giving priority to the requirements of the sound administration of justice are applied. It will therefore be possible to make the application to the President of the Regional Court of the place where the protected person plans to stay or to reside.
Article 18 (b) - the language or languages accepted for translations as referred to in Article 16(1)
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