Judgment No. 791, Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, France (8 July 2010)
Petition to the French Court of Cassation.
A lesbian couple conceived a child through IVF in the United States. One of the women was a United States citizen and the other French. The Superior Court of Dekalb County in Georgia recognised both women as legal parents of the child. The couple petitioned the French courts to recognise both women as parents.
Whether France should recognise joint adoptions by same sex couples that had been legally performed and recognised abroad.
Civil Code of France, Articles 365 (establishing that the adoptive parent has exclusive parental authority over the adopted child, unless he or she is married to the mother or father of the child; in that case, they exercise parental authority jointly); and 370-5 (considering that an adoption lawfully recognised abroad is a “full adoption” in France if it severed the previous parent-child relationship completely and irrevocably; otherwise it only has the effects of “simple adoption”).
Code of Civil Procedure, Article 509 (judicial decisions adopted by foreign tribunals are enforceable in the territory of the French Republic as prescribed by law).
Code of Judicial Organisation.
Reasoning of the Court
In a short opinion, the Court held that French law required that both women be recognised as the child’s parents. The Court held that even though French law did not recognise second parent adoption for same-sex couples, Articles 365, 370-5 of the Civil Code, and Article 509 of the Code of Civil Procedure – when read together – required the Court to recognise second-parent adoptions performed abroad.
The Court ruled in favour of the couple without remand, noting that it was authorised to take this decision by the Code of Judicial Organisation.
Judgment No. 791, Court of Cassation, First Civil Chamber, France – French (full text of judgment in French, PDF)