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Divorce in Thailand

How to get Divorce in Thailand
Divorce in Thailand

Divorce in Thailand is the dissolution of marriage or the bonds of matrimony which usually entails the canceling of the legal responsibilities and duties of the married couple ruled under the Thai Civil and Commercial Code.

The divorce rate in Thailand has jumped over the decade, from 27% in 2006 to 39% in 2016. More than a third of Thai couples who registered their marriage in 2016 filed for divorce in Thailand during that same year.

There are 2 types of divorce in Thailand. These are Contested Divorce which tend to be very costly and then there is the Uncontested Divorce which is a cheaper cost and are normally called Administrative Divorce or Divorce by Mutual Consent. Consult with a Thailand Divorce Lawyer for legal advice before signing any agreement in regard to your divorce in Thailand.

Uncontested Divorce in Thailand

An uncontested divorce is the administrative form of divorce in Thailand. It is a divorce by mutual consent and it is preferred because it is swift and straightforward. For this type of Thai divorce, parties do not need to have a ground to sever their marriage. Their mutual agreement to end the marital consortium is enough. The husband and wife must be physically present when applying for an uncontested divorce. It is conducted at the local registration office which is known as the amphur, amphoe or khet.

Requirements for Uncontested Divorce

The main requirement for the Uncontested Divorce in Thailand or the administrative Thai divorce is the legal registration of the marriage in Thailand and it was duly registered in accordance with the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. The documents to be submitted are as follows:

If returning to the same district office:

  • The two original marriage certificates
  • Original ID card for the Thai national
  • Thai party’s Tabien baan (household registration booklet or blue book)
  • Original passport for the foreigner

If divorcing in an amphur or district office different from where the marriage is registered:

  • The two original marriage certificates
  • Original ID card for the Thai national
  • Thai party’s Tabien baan (household registration booklet or blue book)
  • Original passport for the foreign national
  • Legalized translation of the foreigner’s passport copy

See a more detailed information on Uncontested Divorce in Thailand

Contested Divorce in Thailand

Contested Divorce in Thailand

Contested divorce is judicial or court divorce. One party to the marriage is given recourse to go to the courts to end his/her marriage if any of the grounds provided under Thai law is attendant. This is usually available if there is a definite ground for divorce but only one of the parties is amenable to ending the marriage, or if one party has been absent, and the absence has been a detriment to the other. Another reason to have this divorce is if there are disagreements on child custody and marital property sharing which the parties cannot settle by themselves, and the court's intervention is necessary to put an end to the marriage and the accompanying issues. Contested divorce is also the remedy of some couples who have not registered their marriage in Thailand but have been residing or working in Thailand for a reasonable length of time.

Grounds for Divorce in Thailand

In the case that the husband and wife are not able to agree on the terms and conditions of divorce set out by the other party, the other party can file a divorce petition on the grounds given in the Civil and Commercial Code at the relevant Court as scheduled in Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code. The grounds for divorce are as follows:

  1. one spouse has given maintenance to or honored another person as wife or husband, committed adultery or had regular sexual intercourse with such other person, such other spouse may enter an action for divorce;
  2. one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offense or not, if it causes the other:
    • to be seriously ashamed;
    • to be insulted of hated or account of continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or
    • to sustain excessive injury or trouble where the condition, position, and cohabitation as husband and wife are taken into consideration; the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
  3. one spouse has caused serious harm or torture to the body or mind of the other or has seriously insulted the other or his or her ascendants, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
  4. one spouse has deserted the other for more than one year, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
    • one spouse had been sentenced by a final judgment of the Court and has been imprisoned for more than one year in the offense committed without any participation, consent or in the knowledge of the other, and the cohabitation as husband and wife will cause the other party to sustain excessive injury or trouble, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
    • The husband and wife voluntarily live separately because of being unable to cohabit peacefully for more than three years or live separately for more than three years by the order of the Court, either spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
  5. one spouse has been adjudged to have disappeared or has left his or her domicile or residence for more than three years and being uncertain whether he or she is living or dead;
  6. one spouse has failed to give proper maintenance and support to the other or committed acts seriously adverse to the relationship of husband and wife to such an extent that the other has been in excessive trouble where the condition, position, and cohabitation as husband and wife are taking into consideration, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
  7. one spouse has been an insane person for more than three years continuously and such insanity is hardly curable so that the continuance of marriage cannot be expected, the other may enter a claim for divorce;
  8. one spouse has broken a bond of good behavior executed by him or her, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
  9. one spouse is suffering from a communicable and dangerous disease which is incurable and may cause injury to the other, the latter may file a claim for divorce;
  10. one spouse has a physical disadvantage so as to be permanently unable to cohabit as husband and wife, the other may enter a claim for divorce.
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How to File a Contested Divorce in Thailand

Divorce in Thailand Certificate

Divorce Case Preparation
The aggrieved party in the marriage will file a petition to the court. The Plaintiff must identify the grounds for the divorce. It is important to know how the ground can be substantiated through evidence. With the help of a divorce lawyer, the petitioner will know if he or she has enough evidence to prove his claims against his spouse or not. Remember that the case must be able to stand alone even if the spouse is willing to admit the allegations, or if planning to contest the petition.

File the Case for Divorce and Payment of Court Fees
Once the pleading is ready, the Plaintiff together with his Thai family lawyer may file the case in the appropriate Family Court. The court fees have to be paid before the case is docketed. If the petition for divorce is accompanied with claims on marital property, the court fees shall be computed at 2% of the total amount of the claim. Another fee to be paid is the Court Delivery fee; for the delivery of the summons to the Respondent. The amount for the delivery may vary depending on the location of the Respondent. Expenses for the conduct of the hearings are charged against the court fees. Less number of hearings mean less deductions on the fees paid. Any remainder from the court fee is returned to the Plaintiff 30 days after the judgment is rendered.

Service of Summons for Divorce
Service of Summons is done in order for the court to have jurisdiction over the person of the Respondent. It also complies with the requirement of Due Process where a Respondent is given the opportunity to understand the case/s filed against him.

If within Thailand, service of summons may be done through personal service or registered mail. Depending on how the Summons is served, the Respondent is given a certain number of days to file his answer to the complaint.

Order of Default and the Default of Judgement
Within the given number of days, the Respondent must submit his or her Answer to the Complaint filed against him before the Thai court. Failure to do so may allow the Plaintiff to file a motion in court to declare Respondent/Defendant in default and the respondent may lose all future opportunity to defend himself on the allegations made against him in the divorce case. He or she can no longer submit documents or give testimony opposing the claims of the petitioner/plaintiff.

Appearance at the Juvenile Observation and Protection Center
If the divorcing husband and wife have common children of minor age, they are called to make a mandatory appearance before the Juvenile Observation and Protection Center (also called the Juvenile Court). During the appearance, both parents and the children are invited to meet with the officer to discuss how the children's welfare shall be protected if the divorce is granted.

The Divorce Pre-trial
The Pre-Trial is the first opportunity for husband and wife and their counsels to meet in trial court. The main purpose of the pre-trial is to determine the issues to be heard during the course of the hearing-proper. It is also the time for the parties to settle their differences, or for the erring party to admit to the allegations. During this process, the parties may also present to the court a Compromise or Settlement Agreement related to the sharing of child custody and marital property. If the Judge finds the Agreement to be fair and voluntarily entered into by the parties, it may order the conclusion of the case and make a judgment based on the Agreement of the spouses.

The Hearing Proper
If no settlement is reached by the parties during the Pre-Trial, it will be followed by the proper hearing on the divorce case. The Hearing is usually scheduled within 60 days from the filing of the complaint.

Evidence and testimony from either or both parties will be accepted and heard by the court. On the basis of the submissions and the testimony presented, the Judge makes a decision on whether or not the chosen ground for divorce exists, along with the issues on child custody sharing, child support and marital property.

The Judgment
The decision judgment is released days or weeks after the submission of the last pleading or hearing in court. It reaches finality if no timely appeal is taken by either or both parties to the case within 30 days after the Judgment has been read.

See more detailed information on Contested Divorce in Thailand

Divorce between two Thai Nationals

Thai couples usually end their marriage through an uncontested divorce. They favor this option because it averts further conflict between husband and wife, as well as their families. As much as they can, Thai couples will settle issues on the sharing of child custody and marital property privately. Only in rare cases when a compromise can no longer be reached do they consult with a lawyer to assist them in the drafting of a divorce agreement which they will register at the District Office "Amphur" when they obtain their divorce in Thailand.

Divorce between Thai and Foreigner

The rapid exposure of Thailand to the world in terms of commerce and tourism has resulted in many marriages between Thai nationals and foreigners. Unfortunately, differences between cultures and language have strained some relationships and divorce has become inevitable in these cases.

Almost always, the Thai spouse will suggest an uncontested divorce if the marriage registration took place in Thailand, as the uncontested divorce is more known and favored by Thais. Foreigners must take extra care before proceeding to have an uncontested divorce. The reason is that not all countries recognize this form of divorce. Many countries now recognize the uncontested divorce but only under special circumstances. It may pose more problems especially if the foreigner has plans of remarriage.

Finding a Thai family lawyer who is experienced with international law for your divorce in Thailand is a must to navigate the complex issues with the relevant laws in foreign jurisdictions.

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