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French Law Fact: Post-Mortem Marriage

Fact: France allows post-mortem people to marry

The French practice of posthumous marriage was first established under the Napoleonic Code in the early 19th century. The practice rose to prominence during and immediately after World War I as women attempted to legitimize their children in cases where the father was killed in action before walking down the aisle. The law was expanded to pertain to civilians after the Malpasset Dam burst in 1959. One of the people killed was André Capra, whose pregnant fiancée petitioned to go through with the marriage. This prompted the National Assembly to pass a law allowing the President of the Republic to authorize posthumous marriages in certain cases.

The process to marry a deceased lover is rather arduous to protect against marriage fraud. First, a request must be sent to the President. Next, the Justice Minister and the jurisdiction’s prosecutor must determine that the deceased intended to marry and the parents must agree to go through with it. Even when the marriage goes through, the spouse does not claim any of the deceased’s assets outside of what was already outlined in the will.


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