Contested Divorce in Thailand
Who may obtain a contested type of Thai divorce?
Couples who registered their divorce in Thailand may file for contested divorce if:
- One party has a ground to divorce the other spouse and the latter is unwilling to sever the marriage hence it is contested;
- There are issues on marital property sharing and child custody, and the issues cannot be settled amicably between the parties.
Can you file for the contested divorce if the marriage was not registered in Thailand?
As a general rule, no. However, couples who did not register their marriage in Thailand may request the Thai courts to assume jurisdiction over their divorce on the basis of important considerations, like:
- One party is a Thai national; or
- One or both parties have resided or worked in Thailand for a considerable period of time.
What are the grounds for divorce?
The Thai Civil and Commercial Code provides for the following grounds for divorce:
- The husband has taken another woman as his wife;
- The wife has committed adultery;
- One party is guilty of misconduct;
- One spouse has seriously harmed the body or mind of the other;
- One spouse has seriously insulted the other spouse or his/her ascendants;
- One spouse has deserted the other for more than a year;
- One spouse has been imprisoned for more than a year;
- The spouses have voluntarily lived separately for more than three years;
- The spouses have lived separately for more than three years;
- One spouse has disappeared for more than three years;
- One spouse has failed to give proper maintenance or support;
- One spouse has been suffering from insanity for at least three years;
- One spouse has broken the bond of good behavior;
- One spouse is suffering from a communicable and dangerous disease;
- One spouse has a physical disadvantage.
Who may file for contested divorce?
The aggrieved spouse has the right to file the divorce case before the court against the erring spouse.
Does he/she need to file the case personally?
No, there are instances that the petitioner or the filing party may be represented by a Thai divorce lawyer when he files the case before the Thai courts.
Can the petitioner be represented by counsel?
The petitioner or Plaintiff will be called to appear at least once to give his/her testimony against the erring spouse.
What if the respondent/defendant does not appear in court?
Should the respondent or defendant not appear in court, he/she will be declared in default by the court.
What is the effect if a party is declared in default?
The party held in default loses his/her right to present evidence against the other party. The court will hear and decide the merits of the case solely on the basis of the active party alone.
What is evidence for the grounds for divorce?
Your divorce lawyer is expected to give you an honest assessment of the strength of the evidence that you will be presenting before the court.
How long does a contested divorce case take to finish?
It takes an average of six months for the Thailand court to finish hearing a contested divorce case.
How will the marital property be shared between the parties?
In a divorce case, the court will expectedly tackle the issues on the sharing of marital property and child custody. If the spouses have come to an agreement in regard to these issues, the court will respect such agreement and include it in the case decision. However, if the couple cannot amicably settle one or both issues, the court will be inclined to resolve the issue/s on the basis of Thai laws.
Are there other things we need to do after?
Yes. For the benefit of the foreign party, he or she must have the divorce decree translated to English. After the translation, it must be legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. He or she must also check with his/her Embassy/Consulate in Thailand on whether or not the decree needs to be submitted or reported there.
For the Thai national, the decree must be recorded in the district office where he or she is registered. The Thai female party likewise needs to report the divorce and return to the use of their maiden names.
Is this possible to change from contested to uncontested?
Yes. The petitioner/plaintiff or both parties may withdraw the contested divorce case any time after it is filed before the Thai court and you may have an uncontested divorce instead at the district office.