The law of 4 March 2002 affirmed the principle of alternating residence.
In fact, according to article 373-2-9 of the French Civil Code: " the child's residence may be fixed alternately in the home of each parent or in the home of one of them. "
This is to allow the child to live successively with one and the other of his parents (every other week, 15 days or a month on two …).
Either the parents, in agreement with each other, together ask the Judge to fix the alternate residence of the child, or, in case of disagreement, it may also be ordered by the magistrate when only one of the parents so requests; moreover, not being bound by the demands of the parties, the Judge can choose the solution which seems to him to preserve at best the interest of the child.
It should be noted that some Family Court Judges are in favor of the establishment of alternate residence and therefore tend to encourage it, while others are resolutely against …
Often, they will put in place alternation in the form of a test which, if successful, will enable them to definitively order alternating residence.
Opinions are divided :
- there are those who think that this measure allows both parents to play a real role with the child, to monitor equally education and the daily life and emotional of the child by sharing his daily life, in short to involve more.
- others believe that the alternating residence is psychologically difficult for the child, a source of imbalance.
The judge must always be guided by the interest of the child and assess whether the establishment of an alternating residence will sufficiently preserve the essential elements for the good development of the child (safety, health, morality, education …) and will not expose him to any danger (such as including violence, alcohol).
The child may be heard by the Judge (depending on his age and maturity) or the judge will have the opportunity to order a social inquiry before making his decision.
Even if the law remains silent on the criteria to be retained, some points seem essential:
- residences of two close relatives, in order to keep the child the same school, the same friends, the same rhythm of life
- availability of both parents therefore requiring a significant investment on their part
- absence of a conflictual relationship between parents, which implies that they have a healthy and calm relationship
Like any decision on the child, the choice of alternate residence may be subject to revision at any time, if new elements exist.