Considerations for Divorce in Thailand
If you are unfortunate enough to be facing divorce in Thailand then you may find the procedures and regulations far different to that of say EU Nations or the USA.
In general, if you or your spouse are currently living in the Kingdom you can file for a divorce provided there are sufficient grounds. If the marriage was registered in Thailand and both parties agree then the process is mainly administrative.
An uncontested divorce can be obtained at the local District Office (khet/amphur). The application must be made in writing and witnessed by two people and registered with the relevant authorities. There is no requirements for any lawyers attendance.
Registering the Divorce
Registration is made at the District Office. Normally it is not possible to book an appointment.
You are required to take:
- Completed signed documents
- ID photo’s
- The marriage certificate
What if the Divorce is Contested?
If either party contests the divorce, or you both can not agree on financial issues, division of assets or child custody, then a divorce may be filed with a Thai court. The reasons and grounds for a divorce has to be demonstrated personally in court.
Grounds for divorce include:
- Separation of over three years
- Desertion of partner for over twelve months
- Criminal misconduct
- Insanity for over three years
- Physical disability causing husband and wife unable to cohabitate
- Incurable disease
- Mental or physical abuse
- A spouse has disappeared
- A spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance and support their partner
How are the Assets Divided in Court?
Thailand is a “Community Property” jurisdiction. This means that separate property and assets acquired before marriage remain with their original owners. Property and assets acquired whilst in marriage are equally divided.
However, the rules of division of property are complex and the court will decide according to these rules. Prenuptial agreements can alter the distribution of property during a divorce.
Debts incurred during the marriage are normally the responsibility of both parties.
Prenuptial agreements are legal in Thailand providing they meet the requirements of Thai Law. Thailand has it’s own requirements for registering a prenuptial agreement before marriage. If the agreement was taken in another country then generally the Thai courts will accept it as long as the agreement was legal in the originating country.
What if you are Living Outside Thailand
If you are now living abroad, the Thai court may potentially still have jurisdiction over a divorce action. Therefore a lawyer may still be able to file for a divorce for you even if you are living outside the country.
However, normally a plaintiff must appear at least once in person during the legal procedure.
An arrangement has to be made in a settlement if children are involved. If there is no provision made the court will determine the provisions.
In the case of adultery, normally the innocent spouse receives the benefits. The guilty party may have to pay living allowance as part of the agreement. However, the right is void when the party receiving the allowance remarries.
In general, foreign nationals may obtain a divorce in Thailand providing they can prove minimum residency requirements.
If the divorcing couple did not marry in Thailand then normally they do not qualify for an administrative uncontested divorce at the District Office. Providing they qualify a divorce may be applied for through the Thai courts.