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Are you wondering if you can adopt your spouse's children, even if both parents are already identified? Here is a brief overview of simple adoption: “l’adoption simple”

In France, it is possible to adopt a spouse's children through “simple adoption”, even if there is an other biological parent, if you are married, in a civil partnership, or cohabiting.


The “simple adoption” procedure is particularly favored in blended families. It formalizes the bonds that have been formed over the years between a child and their stepparent.


The law of February 21st, 2022, and the ordinance of October 5th, 2022, introduced some modifications to the simple adoption procedure (Article 343 and following of the French Civil Code).


Conditions for simple adoption:


- Adoptee: Simple adoption is permitted regardless of the age of the adoptee. However, an adoptee over the age of 13 must personally consent to their adoption, and parents whose filiation is recognized must also give their consent. The court may grant the adoption even if one of the parents refuses, if it deems this refusal to be abusive.


- Adopter: The adopter must be at least 15 years older than the adoptee and be over 26 years old, except in exceptional circumstances. In the case of adoption of the partner’s child: no age requirement, but the adopter must be 10 years older than the adoptee unless there are justifiable reasons. If the adopter is married or in a civil partnership, the consent of the spouse or partner is required.


“Simple adoption” procedure:


The consent to adoption is given before a French or foreign notary, or before French diplomatic or consular agents, or in some cases, by the child welfare services. This consent can be revoked within two months by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt.


After this period, the judicial court is petitioned upon request of the adopter, to pronounce the simple adoption. The competent court is that of the adopter's residence. That court ensures that “simple adoption” is in the best interests of the adoptee and does not compromise family life as a whole, by collecting, if necessary, the opinions of the adopter's other children.


After verifying the consent and motivation of the adopter and the adoptee, the court pronounces simple adoption.


Effects of simple adoption:


Simple adoption adds a filial link to existing filiations. The adoptee thus becomes an heir reserved for the adopter while retaining their status as a reserved heir with regard to their biological parents.


In general, the adoptee retains their original surname to which the adopter's surname is added. If the adoptee is over 13 years old, they can choose to modify, add, or not add the adopter's surname to their family name. Since the law of February 21, 2022, the child's first name can also be changed with the consent of the adoptee over 13 years old.


The adopter becomes a holder of parental authority concurrently with the other partner, who retains sole exercise of it unless there is a joint declaration.


Regarding inheritance rights, in principle, the link created by simple adoption is not taken into account for calculating inheritance rights. The tax is determined based on the initial relationship between the adoptee and the adopter. Therefore, the adoptee will be taxed at 60%, like any unrelated person.


As an exception, the adoptee enjoys the same inheritance rights as the biological children of the adopter in certain cases listed in Article 786 of the French General Tax Code:

- Child from the spouse's previous marriage,

- Adoptee under 18 at the time of the adopter's death,

- Adoptee adult who, either during their minority and for at least five years, or during their minority and adulthood and for at least ten years, were continuously under the main care and support of the adopter.


If you have specific questions about the simple adoption procedure, do not hesitate to contact our office.


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