• Zoe Davis

What is a PACS?

When it comes to relationships there are times we need to find that happy medium in showing our love and commitment for one another and sometimes that means doing the whole legal shenanigans for that “just in case” moment in our lives, because let’s be honest no one knows what the future may hold. And sometimes the whole traditional wedding thing isn’t really what we are looking for. In the UK many couples are recognised as co-habitating (living together) with not much legal influence. However in France there is something called PACS which helps to identify a relationship legally.

Later this year I have the greatest pleasure and honour of carrying out a love commitment ceremony for two very different couples where both couples have chosen the path of a PACS to cement their relationship in a legal manner and have requested my services to have a love commitment ceremony, with a difference, in the presence of their family and friends.

What is a PACS I hear you ask!

Well, a PACS is a legal alternative to marriage in France and the word PACS is an abbreviation of Le pacte civil de solidarite – the civil pact of Solidarity. This type of legal alternative is recognised in France for opposite and same sex couples. It is basically a civil partnership which gives rights and obligations to both partners similar to that of being married. I am keen to conclude that although a PACS does offer similar rights and obligations to that of being married there are some differences as to what is allowed and advice would be best sought with your Notaire (solicitor/ lawyer) to understand exactly what your legal rights and obligations are. Another great way to describe or look at a PACS is to refer to it as a legal contract that confirms you are cohabiting/ in a relationship with another person. To form a PACS it must be no more than two persons and you do not have to be French; foreigners residing in France are able to form a PACS as well.

I could delve more into the different legal situations, paperwork filing etc however as this is not something I do as a Celebrant, I can only provide information of who to speak to regarding this. Below I have provided three helpful links two of which are in French and relatively simple to translate using a desktop computer or google translate on an tablet. The last link is from an English source that has informative directions to the correct pathways to register your application to forming a PACS.

Why is a PACs important to me as a Celebrant?

It is important to me as a Celebrant to understand the different legal situations that are available to couples in the country we reside. It also helps to give me an insight into what the couples are dealing with and how they came to the decision of choosing this path. For example one couple I am working with have both been married before with marriages ending in very different circumstances. They felt that for them by doing the legal part as a PACS it will benefit them both in the future should the need ever arise and by following the legal part with a Celebrant led ceremony, they are then able to celebrate and share their love for one another with their close family and friends, therefore offering a unique viewpoint to their relationship from their previous relationships. My second couple have chosen this route of a PACS because they are a same sex couple and the supposed “traditional” form of marriage is not recognised for their relationship. And again they felt that their circumstances would benefit from the legal rights of a PACS and by following with a Celebrant led Ceremony they are able to have a ceremony however they would like it and wherever they would like it.


For me love is love. However you choose to celebrate is you choice and your choice alone, the fact that France is able to offer this legal stability for same and opposite sex couples, is actually a very clear legal step into the modern world of living.

Images - some unknown, unsplash (Brigitte Tohm, Tyler Mix, In Lieu & In View Photography)

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