Matrimonial regimes gather together all patrimonial dispositions in a married couple regarding the nature of the assets, as well as the financial consequences of their relationship with one another and third-parties.
In respect of this matter, several matrimonial regimes coexist, each one suitable for a specific patrimonial situation, the goal being to choose the appropriate regime for one’s personal, professional and relationship situation. It is then possible to distinguish community regimes from separatist ones.
The legal regime is the community of acquests. It is automatically applied, when the spouses didn’t care for a specific marriage contract. This regime creates three pools of assets:
- one for each spouse, where are found goods received by inheritance or donation, goods that were the sole property of a spouse before the marriage, and goods deemed as personal “by nature” (strictly personal ones, as well as personal rights).
- a commingled mass formed with every acquisition made by a spouse alone or by both of them during the marriage, earnings and salaries, property income.
Full community property: this is the most inclusive community regime. It contains only one pool of assets bringing both spouses’ assets together, the only personal goods left to the sole property of each spouse are the one that are personal by nature. This regime can even be reinforced by a clause allowing the free allocation of all the assets to the surviving spouse.
Community of movables and acquests: quite similar to the community of acquests, the community of movables and acquests has the particularity of integrating into the common pool of assets all the movable goods owned by the spouses before the marriage, as well as those received by donation or inheritance during the marriage.
Pure separation of property: this is the most exclusive regime of all, where no common pool of assets is created, each spouse keeping the sole property or their goods. Regarding the liabilities, one spouse’s creditor can only seize their personal goods, those of the other remaining unreachable.
This regime is strongly suggested for spouses plying an at-risk profession, that may potentially lead to a huge amount of liability.
Spouses can still purchase an asset together with the procedure of joint ownership. However, if they wish to have a bigger common estate, it is recommended to create a partnership of acquests within which they can manage common goods without resorting to the precarious joint ownership.
Acquests participation: this regime is working as a separation during the marriage, but gains community-based features when it ends. The spouse who earned the most during the marriage must then compensate the other, up to half the difference.
Anyhow, it is always possible for the spouses to amend any regime after two years of use. Keep in mind that some measures cannot be changed and apply in any case, regardless of the regime you choose.
We remain available for any advice you might have in choosing the matrimonial regime best suited to your situation.
: François Deruaz
Service Actes courants
SCP Vialla & Dossa, Notaires, Montpellier