Unmasking the Bourgeoisie

Assemblee de Famille

A Love Story




Real Life

The assemblee de famille, like the tribunal de famille, heard divorce cases, but it mostly heard cases of mutual consent and incompatibility between husband and wife. Both the husband and the wife named three family members or, in the event that a family member was unavailable, friends to be their arbiters and hear the divorce case.

(Perrot 32)

For the cases of mutual consent, both the husband and the wife told the 'officer public' that they each wanted the divorce; the officer public would then set a court date at least one month away. If after that month the husband and wife did not reconcile and still wanted the divorce, they received a 'certificate of nonconciliation.' Between one month and six months after obtaining this certificate the husband and wife could show it to the registrar of 'etat-civil' and be granted the divorce.

The cases of incompatibility were not nearly as simple as the cases of mutual consent. In the cases of incompatibility the spouse who wanted the divorce went to the officer public where he would be given a court date and named his three arbiters. The other spouse was invited to attend this court case and was told to name her three arbiters. In court, all six of the appointed arbiters had to encourage reconciliation between the husband and wife, but if a reconciliation proved to be impossible the certificate of nonconciliation was drawn up. Two months later the assemblee reassembled with the husband and wife to again encourage a reconciliation, but if a reconciliation still proved impossible a second certificate of nonconciliation was drawn up. Three months later the Assemblee met for the last time to encourage a reconciliation, and if a reconciliation was not possible the third and final certificate of nonconciliation was drawn up. Between a week and one month after the third meeting of the assemblee the petitioner could present the three certificates to the 'etat-civil' and finally be granted his divorce (Phillips 1980, p. 34-42).