Hello, I do a lot of divorce cases in France, and yes both parties to a Mutual Consent Divorce are required to "appear" personally and physically before the judge who signs the ultimate decree. You will also need a lawyer.
As a praticing lawyer, I have had many cases of a French spouses not wanting to return back to France soon for the mutual consent divorce. At the end of the day, they all had to come to France and appear before the court in order to divorce in France. That is the position of the French law; there is no other way around it.
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