Before you file for divorce in Thailand, you need to define divorce in this part of Asia. Divorce in Thailand involves ending a marriage by a court judgment. This judgment is based on one of 12 grounds, each of which is listed in Section 1516 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code.
A divorce may also be decreed by the Amphur (local district office) upon a joint request and mutual consent of the parties. An Amphur, or district administrative office, has the authority to end a marriage when a divorce is based on mutual consent.
A Basic Overview of the Grounds for Divorce
The grounds for a divorce judgment by the court include the following:
- One of the spouses commits adultery.
- One of the spouses is proven to misbehave in a way that seriously shames the other person, causes the other party to be hated or insulted, or sustain an injury.
- One of the parties causes serious harm to the mind or body of the other person or seriously insults their ascendants.
- One spouse has not lived with his or her husband or wife or has deserted him or her for over a year.
- One of the spouses has been imprisoned for over a year for an offense that was not consented to or done with any knowledge of the other person. From this event, the other party has experienced excessive trouble or injury.
- The spouses have chosen to live apart for over three years because they find it difficult to live peacefully together, or they have lived separately for the same length of time by an order of the court.
- One spouse has disappeared, having left his or her residence for over three years. It is not known if he or she is living or has died.
- One of the spouses has failed to provide proper support and maintenance to the other spouse or has committed adverse acts in the relationship. This behavior has caused the other spouse excessive trouble.
- One of the spouses has been determined to be mentally incompetent for over three years on a recurring basis. The condition has been shown to be incurable, making it impossible to continue the marriage.
- One of the partners has broken his or her bond of good behavior.
- One of the spouses is suffering from a disease that cannot be cured, which may eventually harm the other party.
- One of the spouses has a physical disability that makes cohabitation with the other person impossible.
When it comes to divorce in Thailand, the law does not distinguish between Thais or foreigners. They are both treated equally. When a divorce is filed in Thailand, it may be either contested or uncontested. While a contested divorce requires going to court, an uncontested divorce is done by mutual consent of the couple.
A Contested Filing for Divorce
If both of the parties cannot agree on a divorce settlement, one of the parties needs to file a divorce petition in the court. To proceed with this type of proceeding, you must have a legal ground or one in the list of the grounds for divorce mentioned above.
The burden of proof rests on the party making the divorce request. He or she must be willing to appear in court to resolve the matter.
An Uncontested Divorce
If a husband and wife wish to end their marriage, the law in Thailand allows them to terminate the union uncontested. In this case, they do not have to have a reason or a ground to end the divorce, as a marriage is a civil contract. If you are a foreigner who wishes to divorce your Thai spouse, you should first consult with your country’s embassy to see if a divorce made through an Amphur in Thailand is legally valid in your country.
An uncontested divorce, or one made by mutual consent, must be in writing and the document must include the signatures of two witnesses. This follows the law with respect to section 1514 of Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code. The divorce agreement may be executed in a law firm or at and Amphur or district office. Make sure you fully understand the agreement before you sign it and it is certified. If you are a Thai-Foreigner couple, you should make sure the agreement is translated.
If your agreement includes the required witness signatures but is not registered at the Amphur, it will not be considered valid. Both parties must be present at the Amphur office at the time of registration. To prevent any disagreements, legal specialists suggest that you bring an English and Thai translation if one of you are from an English-speaking country. You should also present your passport (translated to Thai) if one of you are from a Western country.
The two witnesses who view the divorce signing should be at least 20 years old, of sound mind and have never filed for bankruptcy.
What the Agreement Should Contain
The divorce agreement should include what has been agreed upon, pertaining to the following:
- How child custody will be managed, if applicable;
- How the division of the marital assets will be handled; and
- Any other financial decision, such as the payment of alimony.
When the divorce is registered, the officer at the office will note the contract and the financial situation and care of the couple’s child or children, if applicable.
If you need legal advice or assistance from a qualified family lawyer or a lawyer to represent you in a court hearing, please contact us today.