Divorce Scenarios for Foreign Nationals in Thailand

Siam Legal International receives several inquiries every day regarding the divorce process in Thailand. Most of these cases involve a Thai girl living in Thailand and a foreign national returning back to their native country. We will go through different variations of this fact pattern and try to address the issues.

“I am a British citizen and married Thai girl in Thailand, I am now back in the United Kingdom and want a divorce. My wife is still in Thailand and agrees to divorce. Can I get a divorce without going to Thailand?”

If there are no children involved and the parties are in agreement with the divorce, the British national can retain an attorney in Thailand to file the divorce where the wife is residing based on one of the grounds for divorce. Once the divorce is filed, the wife will receive the court pleading and then meet with the wife can meet with the lawyer to sign a compromise agreement to settle the divorce.

When the agreement has been signed, it is filed with the court. The court will render a final judgment 30 days after the filing of the agreement. The divorce can then be registered with the local district office. A divorce in Thailand is recognized in most countries of the world including the United Kingdom.

“I am an American and my husband is British. We were married in Thailand but lived in the United Kingdom. Do we need to get divorced in the United Kingdom? Can we get divorced in Thailand?”

Registering or getting married in Thailand does not give you the rights to file the divorce to Thai court if both parties do not reside in Thailand. In order for a Thai court to have jurisdiction over the marriage, at least one party has to reside in Thailand.

However, a marriage in Thailand is recognized in most countries of the world. If both parties are currently residing in the United Kingdom, it is perfectly legal for a British court to grant a divorce. The divorce will be recognized in Thailand.

“I am a British Citizen currently living in Thailand. Can I file for divorce against my Thai wife?”

A foreign national currently residing in Thailand can file a divorce in Thailand. There are two methods of divorce in Thailand.

For agreed or uncontested divorces, the divorce can be filed at the local provincial government where the marriage is registered. This type of divorce is suitable for the spouses who agree on the divorce, child custody issues and division of marital property. However, for this type of divorce, both parties have to appear at the district office and sign the divorce papers in front of the officer. There processing time for registering the divorce at a local district depends on the district office where the marriage was registered but generally takes three to five days.

For contested divorces or where a judicial divorce is required such as if the marriage was not registered in Thailand, if an administrative divorce is not recognized in the foreign party’s country, or if the parties cannot comply with the requirements of an administrative divorce.

To file the divorce pleading to the Thai court, a party must currently reside in Thailand and the filing party has to prove one of allowed grounds for divorce. If a sufficient ground is proved; then, the complaint will be lodge to the Thai court where the defendant or the wife is residing.

Once the divorce pleading is filed with the court, the first hearing will be held within 45 days from the filing date. The divorce can be finalized on that date if there is an agreement. If no agreement can be made, the divorce can last a year or longer depending on the court schedule and issues. Once the divorce decree is granted, one of parties is required to register the divorce at the district office to complete the divorce proceedings under Thai law.

“My husband and I got married in Canada. Can we get an agreed divorce in Thailand? Will it be recognized in our home country?”

For marriages that have not been registered in Thailand, the parties will have to file a divorce in Thai court. To file the divorce pleading to the Thai court, the filing party has to prove one of following grounds including one year abandonment, three year separation, adultery or grave misconduct. If none of grounds apply, our attorneys could discuss with you other potential grounds for divorce.

If there is mutual agreement on the divorce, the process will be faster than the normal contested divorce. The processing time will take 3-5 months to obtain the final judgment. Once the complaint is filed, within 15 to 30 days, the parties will receive a court summons. The parties will go to the court to sign the compromise agreement to settle the divorce. There will be no further hearings; the final judgment will be rendered after 30 days from the date of signing the compromise agreement on the divorce.

If you have any questions on Thai family law or the divorce process, please feel free to contact the experienced English speaking family law attorneys at Siam Legal.


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Category: Divorce, Family Law

Siam Legal International

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Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.

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