Filing a Divorce in Thailand can be difficult, therefore, it is important to seek the advice of a professional Thai lawyer for guidance throughout the process.
Below is an interview conducted by a Thailand Divorce Lawyer from Siam Legal International, a Bangkok-based Thailand Law Firm. They have a proven track record in dealing with both foreign and Thai clients throughout Thailand who need representation in divorce, child custody, child support, and marital properties.
The following are the two general types of divorce in Thailand under Thai Law:
Divorce in Thailand can take place in two ways, namely, administrative divorce and judicial divorce, and both of them are different in nature. The administrative divorce or the divorce at the district office is suitable for the couple that agreed to divorce and the marriage is either 1.) registered in Thailand 2.) registered at the Royal Thai Embassy abroad or 3.) registered in other countries but one of the spouses is Thai. However, if a couple is unable to agree on the terms of the divorce, then they can pursue the case in court.
Administrative divorce is also known as “uncontested divorce” in Thailand. The requirement to register an administrative divorce in Thailand is that there must not be any disagreement between the spouses on any matter including child custody, property, etc. The spouses have to personally attend the district office for the divorce registration. The lawyer cannot act on your behalf with this kind of divorce even by the power of attorney.
Judicial Divorce is also known as “contested divorce” in Thailand. In order for a court to order a divorce in Thailand, it is necessary for there to be disagreement regarding the terms of the divorce between both the spouses or the spouses agreed to divorce but the uncontested divorce under Thai Law is not recognized in the country of Foreigner party. Moreover, the claimant must submit at least one of the twelve grounds for divorce to the court in order for the court to declare the couple as divorced.
Since administrative divorce takes place in a district office in Thailand, therefore it is necessary for both the spouses to be present in Thailand to sign and attest to the divorce registration. However, when it comes to a court divorce, only the spouse who is the claimant needs to be present in Thailand, while the other spouse can be represented by a divorce attorney.
Grounds can be defined as the reasons to file for a divorce in the legal terminology. These grounds can be used as evidence for a divorce complaint to get accepted in the Thailand courts. Valid grounds for divorce in Thailand include adultery or abandonment by a spouse. There are a total of twelve grounds for registering a divorce in Thailand as following:
Since an administrative divorce takes place on the mutual agreement of the spouses and does not require the filing of a complaint, therefore grounds for a divorce are not needed in an administrative divorce.
Prenuptial agreements are valid in Thailand, however, it is important to meet with all the procedural and substantive requirements mentioned under Thai law. There are certain requirements under Thai law regarding prenuptial agreements at the time of marriage. In case you got married in some other country and your prenuptial agreement got registered there, then it can still be accepted by a Thai court provided that is consistent with the foreign law.
A divorce settlement agreement is basically a divorce agreement or contract between the divorcing couple in which the issues regarding the divorce are mentioned including the division of assets, alimony, child custody, visitation rights of the non-custodial parent, etc. Both the parties negotiate and come to a mutual agreement through a divorce settlement agreement to avoid pursuing a court divorce that tends to be incredibly time-consuming.
A divorce settlement agreement is signed between the divorcing spouses in the presence of witnesses. The divorce agreement can be used as a court record or administrative record for either the court to order the divorce or the district office to register the divorce. It will help in preventing any future disputes arising between the divorcing spouses.
Section 1453 of the Marriage Law of Thailand specifies how long a female has to wait to remarry after getting divorced in Thailand. According to section 1453, a female whose marriage got terminated or her spouse died has to wait for 310 days before getting married again.
However, practically, if such a female would like to marry before the 310 days period, the medical certificate issued by the Thai government hospital should be presented to the registrar to confirm that she is not pregnant.
Spouses have to wait for 310 days to get remarried in order to prevent a child from the previous marriage being born during the second marriage as it will create a lot of confusion regarding who is the biological father of the child. It is also important because it is usually assumed in Thailand that the child born during wedlock belongs to the current husband.
The Thailand law has a traditional background, therefore it is mandatory for the spouses to mention the grounds for their divorce in order to get a divorce order from the Thai Courts. So, no-fault divorces are not allowed in Thailand, and the couples will have to present valid grounds in the Thai courts to get divorced.
Same-sex or gay marriages are not legal in Thailand, however, it is important to note that there is no law in Thailand expressly stating that same-sex divorces are not allowed. The Thai Courts most probably won’t recognize same-sex marriage, therefore it is unlikely for the same-sex divorce procedure to be initiated.
Administrative divorce or uncontested divorce costs the least as compared to Judicial divorce or contested divorce in Thailand. However, most of the couples don’t go for an uncontested divorce and often opt for court divorce which tends to get expensive for the divorcing couple. Judicial divorce requires more time, paperwork, and trial procedure. Moreover, the attorney fee varies depending on the attorney you have hired.
If a court orders an award for one of the ex-spouses and one of them dies after the judgment is passed by the court, then the financial award can be paid from the deceased ex-spouse’s estate.
A couple who got married outside Thailand can get their divorce case filed in Thailand provided they meet with the jurisdiction requirement of Thailand courts. The jurisdiction requirements to file a divorce case in Thailand include the following:
However, an administrative divorce can only take place if the couple originally got married in Thailand or one of the spouses is Thai national.
The first thing that you need to know to initiate a divorce process in Thailand is whether or not you are eligible to do so. If you were married in Thailand, and want to opt for an uncontested divorce, then you have the option of an administrative divorce. However, if your spouse does not agree to your terms of the divorce, then you can go to the court to get a divorce order.
Alimony is known as the “maintenance” that must be provided by one person to another due to various reasons under the law of Thailand. In Thailand, alimony will be required if the ex-spouse specifically makes a request for financial support from the other spouse. In an administrative divorce, the alimony shall be given if it is agreed between both the divorcing spouses, but in Judicial divorce, the alimony shall be given by the settlement agreement between the parties during the court proceeding or awarded by the court judgment.
Under the principle of comity, divorces decree in other nations are recognized in the US and UK. Therefore, it solely depends on the laws of the nations whether they want to recognize the divorce registered in another country or not i.e. UK law recognized only the Judicial divorce but not recognized the administrative divorce under Thai Law.
Child custody disputes between divorcing spouses are common when it comes to divorce in any nation. Such disputes can also arise between unmarried parents as well. Under Thailand law, both lawful parents would get joint custodial rights over their child/children. However, it is important for them to be the biological parents of the child to get child custody after the divorce.
When it comes to the right to child custody after divorce, paternity is an issue that arises most of the time. Paternity rights can only be given to the biological father provided that he is married to the mother of the child through either government registration or court order.
By following the separate property principle when a couple gets divorced in Thailand, the assets and properties that were in their name before marriage would still belong to the original owner and would not be distributed to their ex-spouse. Furthermore, according to the community property principle, the assets and property acquired during the marriage would belong to both the spouses equally even after the divorce. Such assets and properties will be divided between the spouses after taking the Thai law and facts of the case into consideration. However, it must be noted that a divorce settlement agreement and a prenuptial agreement can change the division of the assets and properties between the divorcing spouses.
All the debts that are incurred during the marriage will be the responsibility of both the divorcing spouses in Thailand.
According to a 1999 Ministry of Interior regulation, foreigners cannot own land in Thailand. Even if a foreigner marries a Thai national, he or she cannot have ownership over the land in Thailand. If you bought the land during the marriage, the Thailand Land Department requires the foreigner to sign a legal document to specify that this land is a non-marital property having a separate legal personality, therefore, only the Thai spouse will solely have ownership over the land. However, in the divorce proceeding, the foreigner spouse can provide evidence to the court proving that such land was also bought by his or her funds and the land should be considered being the marital property. Once the land is the marital property, then the land should be sold and the proceeds of the sale should be equally shared between the spouses.
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