More French couples choosing civil unions

Feb. 14, 2009 at 11:09 AM

PARIS, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- Authorities in France say a civil union designed a decade ago for gay couples has become increasingly popular with heterosexual couples.

Heterosexual men and women see the Civil Solidarity Pact as halfway between living together and marriage, The Washington Post reported Saturday.

The pact originally was understood as a way for homosexual couples to legalize their unions under French law, which prohibits them from marrying.

For every two marriages held now in France, one heterosexual couple chooses the solidarity pact, the Post reported, noting 92 percent of the 140,000 couples choosing to be united by the pact in 2008 were heterosexual.

The pact allows couples to file joint income tax returns, which can lower their annual tax bill significantly, and the unions can be dissolved without costly divorce procedures, said Irene Thery, a professor at France's Higher Institute of Social Sciences.

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