In the first case of its kind in France, the Cour de Cassation – France's highest appeals court – ruled in Paris on Wednesday that the 1991 marriage of a woman to her former father-in-law, should be formally recognized by the state, according to French media reports.
However the court issued a reminder that it remains forbidden in France for a woman to marry her ex-father in law and justifyied their decision, by saying they made an exception to the rule because of the length of the mariage in question.
The woman, identified only as Denise D., 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”.
Denise, 66, had declared herself ready to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights under the European Declaration of Human Rights' Article 12, which defends the right to marry, and Article 8, which provides a right to respect for one's "private and family life”.
Wednesday's ruling, however, should be definitive.
Among the issues in dispute had been Denise and her ex-husband’s respective rights 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 at the outset of the trial in November.
“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.”
With the marriage now judged to be valid, Denise should "at the very least have some ownership of the assets [in question]” said Duhamel.
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.
Read their story below.