About Uncontested Divorce

in Thailand

An Uncontested Divorce in Thailand is similar to what other countries term as Administrative divorce or Mutual-Consent divorce.

In this type of divorce, the parties mutually agree to sever their union without need of using the judicial system to end marital ties. No ground for divorce is needed for the couple to avail of this remedy.

Foreigners must pay extra attention when availing of this divorce. While the terms uncontested, administrative or mutual consent divorce are widely used in many countries, the requisites and procedure for the divorce may be different from each other. Some states may term their divorce as “divorce by mutual consent,” but the divorce papers signed by the parties still require court ratification before the decree is finalized.

In Thailand, no further court ratification is needed to validate the uncontested divorce. Once the district or consular officer issues the divorce certificate, no other step is needed to confirm the divorce.

The Most Essential Requirement

There is one very crucial requirement before married parties may avail of uncontested divorce in the Kingdom – REGISTRATION OF THE MARRIAGE IN THAILAND. The requirement of registration is absolute.

The marriage should have been registered in any amphur or khet (district office) in Thailand, or any Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate in the world. Registration of the marriage in Thailand signifies that the parties submit themselves to the jurisdiction of Thailand with regard to their marriage and all legal repercussions that follow.

Marriage registration before Thai authorities is available to all nationalities. The marriage need not even be just between Thais or one between a Thai and a foreigner. Any person whose national law allows him to enter into marriage in Thailand or in any other jurisdiction may have his marriage registered in the country.

The Documentary Requirements

Generally speaking, a couple deciding to divorce must return to the same amphur, embassy or consulate where their marriage is registered. However, new rules now allow couples to go to some other amphur, embassy or consulate for the facilitation of the uncontested divorce. However, some additional documents are required before the divorce is facilitated. The documents to be submitted are as follows:

If returning to the same amphur, embassy or consulate:
  1. The two (2) original marriage certificates;
  2. Original Thai national ID (if Thai);
  3. The Thai party’s Tabien baan (household registration booklet or blue book);
  4. Original passport (if a foreigner).
If divorcing in an amphur, embassy or consulate different from where the marriage is registered:
  1. The two (2) original marriage certificates;
  2. Original Thai national ID (if Thai);
  3. The Thai party’s Tabien baan (household registration booklet or blue book);
  4. Legalized translation of the foreigner’s passport copy.*

* Legalizing a foreigner's passport copy requires ground time of about a week in Bangkok. This is because the following have to be accomplished:

  1. Personal appearance of the foreigner before his Embassy in Bangkok. During his appearance, he presents his original passport. The Embassy then issues a certification of the fact of the foreigner’s personal appearance at the diplomatic office, as well as the authenticity of the passport presented. (Half-day or one working day);
  2. Translation to Thai of the Certification issued by the Embassy (Half-day or one working day);
  3. Legalization of the Thai Translation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Three working days); In some instances, the Ministry allows legalization to be rushed, but higher fees are charged, and the applicant is interviewed by the officer on his purpose for the rushed legalization. (One working day).

How do I know if my marriage is registered in Thailand?

A couple who goes directly to any amphur, embassy or consulate for the registration of the marriage need not do anything further. Solemnization of the marriage in any of those venues already translates to registration of the marriage under Thai law. The issuance to them of the Thai marriage certificate is proof of such registration.

However, if the couple opts to have religious or traditional wedding ceremonies first in Thailand or abroad, there is still a need to register the marriage with the Thai public authorities. This is because under Thai law, the wedding ceremony is considered as independent of the marriage registration. It is not the ceremony that signifies the legal start of the union, but the marriage registration. Thus, after the ceremonies are concluded, the couple must make time to register the union at the amphur, embassy or consulate. In some cases, the registration officer is invited to take part in the traditional or religious wedding rites so he may cause the registration of the marriage formally. This is valid too. Make sure you are issued a Thai marriage certificate to prove the registration.

The Necessity of Having a Divorce Agreement

The mutual decision to end the marriage is the primordial reason why couples opt to go through an uncontested divorce. However, there are instances when having the mere resolve to divorce is not enough. Issues related to the sharing of child custody and marital property usually make the divorce more complicated than it already is. Understandably, each of the divorcing parties will insist on having more benefits than the other.

Before the parties proceed to the amphur for the divorce, it is advised that they first enter into a Divorce Agreement. A Divorce Agreement or Settlement Agreement is a written instrument which reflects a divorcing couple’s concurrence on matters related to the sharing of child custody and marital property, as well as the possibility of spousal support after the divorce is granted.

Aside from the law, there are several other considerations which need to be studied before a final Divorce Agreement is drawn. One good example is the Prenuptial Agreement which may have been entered into by the parties before they married. Because of these considerations, it is best to have the assistance of a lawyer in Thailand who will help the divorcee negotiate and prepare for the drafting of the Agreement.

In truth, it is the negotiations and the drafting of the Agreement which takes a lot of time and bargaining skills. While ideally, child custody and marital property is uniformly shared between parties, such is not always possible or even equitable. Compromise on all the two issues, as well as that of alimony, is necessary before the Settlement is finalized and signed by the divorcees.

The Need for Personal Appearance of the parties

Thai law requires both parties to personally before the district officer for the uncontested divorce. No other person may represent the parties, even if extreme personal or health conditions are attendant to the divorcee.

During the divorce, the parties are each asked by the officer of their intent to end their union. The officer also makes an assessment on the voluntariness of the divorcees before he enters the divorce in the registry.

Other Important Considerations on Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested Divorce is available to Thais and foreign nationals. However, foreigners are advised to take extra caution before having this type of divorce.

Some jurisdictions do not recognize an uncontested type of divorce. In some countries, the recognition of a foreign uncontested divorce is conditional. This is without regard to whether their national married in Thailand or not. By way of example, the United Kingdom (UK) does not always recognize a foreign uncontested divorce (termed Non-Procedural divorce). Under their law, the validity of a foreign non-procedural divorce shall be recognized if:

  1. The divorce is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained;
  2. At the relevant date -
    1. Each party to the marriage was domiciled in that country;
    2. Either party to the marriage was domiciled in that country and the other party was domiciled in a country under whose law the divorce is recognized as valid; and
    3. Neither party to the marriage was habitually resident in the UK throughout the period of one year immediately preceding that date.
Local Office Numbers:
Bangkok: 02-259-8100
Phuket: 076-326-322
Chiang Mai: 053-818-306
Pattaya: 03-300-8830
International Numbers:
US: 1-877-252-8831
UK: 0207-101-9301
Australia: 128-015-5273
Thailand: +66 2259-8100
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