If you ask a British couple whether or not they have a “matrimonial contract” - i.e. a prenup agreement - they may well reply “we are not the Beckhams!!”

It may seem like a very funny question to British couples, but it is a very common one for French couples. British couples tend to draft prenuptial agreements only when one or both parties are very wealthy, which means for most people they usually do not have one.

So when they move to France and they are asked (by banks, administrative bodies, etc.) whether they have drafted a marriage contract, they will of course reply “no”.

The French banks and administrative bodies will then usually put them in the French category of “couples with no marriage contract”, i.e. what is usually called “communauté légale”, or “legal community”, which is often totally wrong.

Marriage has no financial consequences in the UK, i.e. no matter what you buy during your marriage, if it is done so under your sole name it will remain only yours. However, be aware that as soon as you are married in France without a marriage contract i.e.“ communauté légale” anything you buy is jointly owned.

Another unexpected consequence of this is that when one partner (who has not drafted a marriage contract and has separate assets) takes a loan in France, both parties (husband and wife) are liable for the loan repayments since they are joint debtors toward the bank.

This is why when a British citizen instigates divorce proceedings in France and if the bank did not understand that they are not married under the French “communauté légale”, the bank will usually refuse to give any kind of loan until the final divorce order has been given by the courts.