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French woman fights for marriage to father-in-law

Sophie Inge · 5 Nov 2013, 10:56

Published: 05 Nov 2013 10:56 GMT+01:00

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On Tuesday, a woman from the southern French town of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence will appear before the cour de cassation, France’s highest appeals court, in a bid to have her controversial marriage to her former father-in-law recognized.

The case will be the first of its kind to be examined in the court, French daily Le Figaro reported.

The woman, identified as Denise, married her former father-in-law Raymond, a professor of medicine, 22 years ago.

Since Raymond’s death in 2005, his son, an architect, whom Denise married in 1969 and divorced in 1980, has twice successfully annulled the marriage between his ex-wife and his father, once in 2011 and again in 2012.

The annulment was made in accordance with section 161 of the French Civil Code which forbids marriages between “descendants, ascendants and partners in the same line”.

But Denise, 66, still has hopes to overturn this decision, and is even ready to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights where she will invoke Articles 12, which defends the right to marry, and Article 8, which provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life”.

Among the issues in dispute are Denise and her ex-husband’s right to Raymond’s inheritance.

“The scenario and chronology of the facts are very clear. It’s the inheritance that matters to my client's ex-husband,” Denise’s lawyer Jean-Philippe Duhamel was quoted by Le Figaro as saying.

“But for her, it’s the opposite. She is bringing the affair before the highest appeals court to get recognition of what is above all a beautiful story, a marriage for love.”

If the marriage is judged to be valid, Denise will "at the very least have some ownership of the assets [in question]” said Duhamel. However, if the marriage is annulled for a third time, Denise will have no further right to appeal.

In June, The Local reported the case of Elisabeth Lorentz and Eric Holder (below), from Moselle in north-eastern France. She was his stepmother for 17 years, before a sequence of events brought the two lovers together.

Story continues below…

Read their story below.

IN-DEPTH: Star-crossed lovers, haunted by their past lives

Sophie Inge (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

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