Is French pension body allowed to seize money?

My husband is in dispute with Cipav, the pension body for self-employed professionals, over unpaid contributions. A court found in its favour and we are in negotiation to work out a payment plan. My husband and myself have received letters from our bank for a saisie-attribution on our joint account. As the debt belongs to my husband, can Cipav block a joint account? J.L.

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In theory, this depends on your marriage regime.

Marriage regimes set the legal structure between the couple to the marriage.

At one end, there is communauté universelle, where all your assets are owned by the couple.

The other extreme is séparation de biens, where you own your assets in your own names directly.

Under international law, you are deemed to have the French equivalent of the regime you had before arriving, which is determined by the country in which you, as a couple, spent the first two years of your marriage. If this was the UK, unless you have changed the regime via a notaire in France, you have a “tenancy in common” regime, which equates to séparation de biens.

As to your question, therefore, under the communauté this covers the bank accounts, and so Cipav would have a right to your joint bank account even though the debt is your husband’s.

On the other hand, if you have the séparation de biens regime, in theory the account should be divided according to which of you own the funds therein.

Generally, it is customary to split the account into two, in which case Cipav should be able to access only those funds that belong to your husband.

It would be best to seek advice from an avocat.

Reader's query answered byHugh MacDonald

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