Can wife adopt my children if we become French?

If we take French nationality can my wife adopt my adult children? One lives in France and one in the UK. NC

19 May 2016
By Oliver Rowland

YOUR question is likely to be in the context of inheritance law and tax, which is not favourable towards step-children; notably they do not have any automatic rights under the French ‘reserved portion’ laws and pay 60% inheritance tax.

Adoption is governed by the national law of the person wishing to adopt – and British law does not allow for adoption of adults.

French law does, under certain conditions – you must be married (not pacsed) and the ‘child’ must be 10 or more years younger than your wife. This would be under adoption simple rules, not adoption plénière which only applies to minors.

Adoption simple allows an adoptee to benefit from the reserved portion rules, however only in limited conditions can they benefit from the lesser inheritance tax - one of which is if the person adopted is a child of a previous marriage of your spouse. This rule was confirmed in 2014 in the answer to a parliamentary question, which stated that it is possible even if the wife/husband has died.

Unfortunately, however, hon. avocat Gerard Barron, from Boulogne-sur-Mer, said French courts would not allow adoption of a person of British nationality because of the fact that the law of their country would not recognise their adoption. He said your children would also have to become French - which may be an option for the one who lives in France, but probably not for the other one.

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