Put a ring on it, or PACS it? What is the PACS anyway?

Almost three weeks ago, my partner and I got PACS’ed. Yeah, I’m not surprised if you have absolutely no idea what the heck that even means. I didn’t either – and I’m still not quite sure if I understand it entirely. I say that because, to me, all we did was fill out a form, hand over a handful of documents, wait for three months, return to the Tribunal d’Instance, sign a few papers and for some reason get a week off from work to celebrate that the ordeal was over.

Here’s Wikipedia’s explanation of the PACS: In France, a civil solidarity pact (French: pacte civil de solidarité), commonly known as a PACS (pronounced: [paks]), is a contractual form of civil union between two adults for organising their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage.

Out of my friends and family, only my parents know that I am PACS’ed. Why should I tell anyone else? It’s not as if people would understand what it is anyway.  My partner, on the other hand, told a lot of people – and everyone congratulated him on this huge event. At no point, did it ever cross my mind that I was doing something romantic. Something worth celebrating. Something people would congratulate me on. Nobody ever congratulated me for filing taxes or opening a bank account or signing an insurance contract, so why would they congratulate me now? It seemed rather odd to me.

I always had this idea that an official union is supposed to be something festive. A social gathering, romantic atmosphere, lots of great food and the most beautiful outfit I’ll ever wear in my entire life.

To me, an official union is not walking into an office, dressed in casual attire, signing some paperwork – and then, that’s it. No romance, no pretty outfit, no cake. Therefore, I didn’t take it seriously. I already lived with my partner, anyway. Only difference to me was that we now lived together officially. I wouldn’t have to feel like an illegal immigrant anymore (I am in fact an immigrant – just not an illegal one).

Little did I know that the French value the PACS more than the ancient tradition of getting engaged – which is something a lot of French don’t wanna deal with. At least not before buying a house and having kids first. A lot of French people (bare in mind, when I say “a lot” I don’t mean ALL French people) consider marriage to be something old-fashioned and religious. Even if it’s a civil wedding – which is as atheist as it gets?!

When I started dating my partner, I knew that he was kind of anti-marriage. He had this idea in his head that once you’re married, your sex-life will go straight down the gutter, your spouse will quit showering, only wear sweatpants and turn into the most lazy person ever. Where do these weird ideas even come from?! Still, he wanted children. Because, in his head, as long as you’re not married, you will still be the sexy vixen you always were – because you’re not married. Having kids would not make any difference. He was also fully aware of the fact that I refuse to have children before getting married. Our differences haven’t torn us apart, but rather brought us closer. And currently, he’s in the middle of planning a friend’s bachelor party and seem to slowly open up to the idea of becoming a husband as some point in the future. We are still not engaged, but at least now we are PACS’ed – and we celebrated it the only way to do it right; with amazing food and drinks at a very haute de gamme restaurant. And obviously, there was champagne. Lots of champagne.

Are you in a situation where you might benefit from the PACS? Are you in need of social security, but not ready to tie the knot quite yet?

These are the benefits of the PACS

  • You get days off in case of fun things like birth, adoption or sad events such as if your partner is rushed to the hospital
  • If your partner is pregnant, you will have the right to attend three obligatory medical examinations.
  • Your employer must take into account the holiday dates of your partner.
  • If both partners work for the same company, the employer must allow the same holiday dates.
  • Partners can benefit from a joint tax declaration
  • Once you’re PACS’ed you get 4 days off to go on a “honeymoon” – or just spend the four days binge-watching movies while chilling on the couch with your partner. Each to their own!

Which documents the administration needed from me (European citizen)

  • The PACS-form for foreigners. You’ll find it at your nearest Tribunal d’Instance.
  • Copy of passport.
  • Copy of birth certificate (translated into French).
  • Proof of residence (my partner wrote a document stating that I live with him in his apartment).
  • Employment contract or other kind of proof you might have as to how long you’ve already been in the country.

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