Home > Family > France > 1995-06-14 - Court of appeal of Paris, n. XPW14061995X

1995-06-14 - Court of appeal of Paris, n. XPW14061995X

Family · France · Divorce · Polygamy

Conflict between Lebanese and Polish law on marriage

Key facts of the case - Mr M., a Lebanese national, married Mrs G. in Beirut in 1951. Both were Greek Catholic. In 1970, he became a Sunni Muslim and, still in Beirut, married Mrs K., a Polish national and Catholic. The spouses live in Paris and the question of the validity of their marriage arises while the wife applies for divorce. According to the consular authorities of the Lebanese Embassy in Paris, the first marriage of the husband had not been dissolved.

Main reasoning of the court - According to the Court, a marriage formed abroad with a bigamy statute for one of the spouses is not necessarily void in France. This can be only if the marriage is valid under the domestic law of the spouses and hence if the domestic provisions or personal statute authorize bigamy. In the case at hand, the second marriage of Mr M. is valid under the Lebanese law. But pursuant to the Polish legislation, a marriage will not be recognized if one of the spouses has been previously married and that this marriage is still valid. The marriage of Mr M. and Mrs K. must be declared void and the application for divorce of Mrs Y. is inadmissible.

Comment - The validity of the marriage and the bigamy issue is only one of the aspects of this ruling. Indeed, the court resorted then to Article 201 of the civil code (Act no 72-3 of 3 Jan. 1972). A marriage which has been declared void produces, nevertheless, its effects with regard to the spouses, where it was formed in good faith.
Where good faith exists only on the part of one spouse, the marriage produces its effects only in favour of that spouse.