The year 2013 saw a large number of demonstrations in France by advocates of the traditional family, who were opposed to the law (since passed) allowing same-sex marriage. Whatever the rights and wrongs of these protests, it has to be said that the family models of the 2010s are very different from those still prevalent 50 years ago. There has been a decline in the rate of marriage and an increase in cohabitation and civil partnerships. Divorce has become commonplace, more children are born outside wedlock and there are many cases of “blended families” etc. French law has adapted over time to these developments, seeking to react to these new situations and, particularly, to take on board the interests of the children affected by these new family models.
However, there are still some gaps in the law, generating considerable debate. This is particularly the case in respect of those who are step-parents by dint of being the partners of a person who has children from a previous relationship that are now part of a blended family. According to the French national statistical institute (INSEE), in 2011 940,000 children –that is to say, almost 7% of minors within French families– were living with one of their parents and a step-parent. Since this is generally a rising trend, the question of the place of step-parents in family life deserves attention. In this article Julien Damon outlines the main issues and explains the difficulties inherent in establishing a specific legal status for them.