What you should know before you file a divorce in Thailand
As embarking on anything pivotal and life-changing, getting a divorce in Thailand must not be a momentary decision but the product of sober and thorough judgment of a marriage. This should be the mindset, if the couple has been married for many years, has a number of children and properties or assets to settle. The husband and the wife must also secure as much information as possible about what they need to know in order to file for divorce and before they file it.
General Information on Divorce in Thailand
If the husband and the wife mutually agree to a divorce, it will not be difficult to obtain it. A divorce by mutual consent, or uncontested divorce, can, however, be obtained in Thailand if they got married also in Thailand. Otherwise, they have to through the judicial process. In securing an uncontested divorce, they must do so in writing, sign and have the agreement certified with the signatures of at least two witnesses. Then, the document must be registered at the local district office if the khet amphur. They also have to completely fill out a form in this office. All these documents are in Thai language. The parties need not hire a lawyer and accompany them in filing the documents. But doing so will help them understand and accomplish all the steps better.
Registering will not need an appointment with the Amphur. The couple only needs to fall in line. They need to bring the following:
- the abovementioned written intent to secure an uncontested divorce with the signatures of two witnesses;
- the couple’s passports
- their marriage certificate
They will need to pay a small fee.
A contested divorce or a divorce by judgment will be granted by the court only on the basis of any of the 12 grounds discussed at a latter part of this article. A lawyer must be hired to file for the proceedings.
Contested or uncontested, a divorce entails settlements between the couple on parental rights, alimony and the custody and maintenance of their children. If these are not included in their agreement, the court will fill them in. A divorce granted on the ground of adultery, the court may award compensation or allowance to the innocent spouse. This, however, becomes invalid if the spouse remarries.
Thailand is subject to a community property law, which states that property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is classified as community property or shared. That, which was acquired by either of them before marriage, is not shared or community. This law is, however, also subject to interpretation. The property conjugally owned on the date of the registration or filing of the divorce in court is subject to liquidation. Unless otherwise agreed beforehand, their sin somros shall be divided equally between them after the divorce is granted.
Meanwhile, more and more are opting for prenuptial agreements in Thailand. Both parties must sign a prenuptial agreement with the signatures of two witnesses and then registered at the local district office or khet amphur in order to be valid. This must be accomplished at the same time as the marriage.
Grounds for the Grant of Contested Divorce
Section 1516 of the Civil and Criminal Code lists these 12 grounds on which the court may dissolve a marriage. The court or the amphur is empowered to try and grant such a divorce request by the aggrieved spouse on any of these grounds:
- maintenance, openly honoring a third party as spouse, adultery or regular sexual intercourse with a third party by the accused;
- the accused spouse’s misconduct, criminal in nature or not; if it brought deep shame, personal insult or hatred in the offended spouse for being married to the accused; or if the offended spouse suffered extreme injury or trouble, which made cohabitation harmful and undesirable;
- the accused spouse harmed or tortured the body or mind of the other or insulted the aggrieved or his or her ascendants, such as parents or other older relatives;
- the accused abandoned the other for more than a year;
- the accused was imposed a final sentence and imprisoned for more than a year without the involvement or knowledge of the offended spouse; their continued cohabitation will cause the aggrieved spouse extreme injury or trouble;
- both of them voluntarily live apart for more than three years for lack of peace in cohabiting with each other, or if they merely live separately for that duration;
- either left the other or their home for more than three years and the other left behind is now uncertain whether the deserting spouse is still living or already deceased;
- the accused failed to provide properly or sufficiently for the support of the aggrieved; acted adversely and perversely towards the aggrieved so as to cause the aggrieved much trouble and make cohabitation unfit and unbearable to the aggrieved;
- either spouse suffers from certified, continued and incurable insanity that made continued peaceful cohabitation impossible;
- if the accused spouse broke their bond of good behavior towards each other;
- if either is suffering from a certified and incurable serious communicable disease that puts the health and life of the aggrieved at serious risk; and
- either suffers from a permanent physical disadvantage that disables normal cohabitation, the disadvantaged spouse may file for divorce.
Four Types of Lawful Divorce in Thailand
- administrative – the divorce is registered at a Thai local government office;
- court adjudicated – the divorce is tried and granted by a Thai judge;
- Sharia or Islamic Law == divorce tried and granted according to the Koran
- By the authority of Thai embassies abroad – a lawyer with international knowledge on this matter should be hired.
Thailand also grants or allows divorce with no grounds of failure or fault against either spouse. This type must be consensual, went through the official administrative process at an authorized district office and then registered. Such a divorce in Thailand is not necessarily uncontested. A consensual divorce must first arrive at a negotiation and settlement agreement. In contrast, an uncontested divorce must pass through the Court system when filed in other jurisdictions. A judge must also sign it.