Marriage under Thai law can be terminated either by (1) death of either spouse, (2) divorce, or (3) revoked by the Court, the marriage being voidable.
The marriage can be dissolved uncontested, or it can be settled in the court. In most cases, when both parties agree to the divorce, the process is fairly straightforward. Unless you are disputing a property claim or have issues with spousal or child support, you can end the marriage without too much difficulty. However, that does not mean you should not contact an attorney for legal advice and help. You still need to have someone back you when you want to end a marriage. This stage in your life can be very emotional. Hence, you need to refer to legal counsel for sorting out the process.
Divorce means the dissolution of marriage under Thai law. In Thai jurisdiction, divorce is of two (2) types:
- Uncontested Divorce
- Contested Divorce
Uncontested Divorce (By Mutual Consent)
When the husband and wife voluntary aim and agree to terminate their marriage under Thai law and register the divorce on the terms and conditions set out by both parties on the matter of marital or jointly owned assets, custody of children if any, at the local municipality (known as Amphur). A Divorce agreement could be supportive in negotiating a settlement of matters mentioned above. Usually, as the name suggests, an uncontested divorce is easier to get. When a divorce is uncontested, or both parties agree to the divorce, everything is simpler and normally less expensive. Each party does not have to give a reason for ending the marriage. It is pretty clear-cut. Mutual consent is all that is needed when filing an uncontested divorce.
The documents required by the Amphur are as follows:
- If you get divorced at the same Amphur as where the marriage is registered, you may have to prepare documents as follows:
- your passport/ID card
- A marriage certificate
- A House Registration Book
- If you get divorced at a different Amphur, you may have to prepare documents as follows:
- A legalized copy of passport
- A marriage certificate
- A House Registration Book
- A Thai ID Card
Once a divorce certificate has been issued by the Amphur, for the foreign spouse, the divorce certificate needs to be translated from Thai to English and legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before it can be registered at the Embassy of the country of the foreign spouse.
Contested Divorce (By Court Judgment)
A contested divorce must be submitted to the court, as the divorce normally involves some type of dispute. Usually, the couple is entangled in a property disagreement or have a difference of opinion about child custody. In the case that the husband and wife is not able to agree on the terms and conditions of divorce set out by the other party, the other party can file a divorce petition on the grounds given in the Civil and Commercial Code at the relevant Court as scheduled in Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code as follows:
Section 1516. Grounds of action for divorce are as follows:
- one spouse has given maintenance to or honored another person as wife or husband, committed adultery or had regular sexual intercourse with such other person, such other spouse may enter an action for divorce;
- one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offense or not, if it causes the other:
- to be seriously ashamed;
- to be insulted of hated or account of continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or
- to sustain excessive injury or trouble where the condition, position, and cohabitation as husband and wife are taken into consideration; the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has caused serious harm or torture to the body or mind of the other or has seriously insulted the other or his or her ascendants, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has deserted the other for more than one year, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse had been sentenced by a final judgment of the Court and has been imprisoned for more than one year in the offense committed without any participation, consent or in the knowledge of the other, and the cohabitation as husband and wife will cause the other party to sustain excessive injury or trouble, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- The husband and wife voluntarily live separately because of being unable to cohabit peacefully for more than three years or live separately for more than three years by the order of the Court, either spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has been adjudged to have disappeared or has left his or her domicile or residence for more than three years and being uncertain whether he or she is living or dead;
- one spouse has failed to give proper maintenance and support to the other or committed acts seriously adverse to the relationship of husband and wife to such an extent that the other has been in excessive trouble where the condition, position, and cohabitation as husband and wife are taking into consideration, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has been an insane person for more than three years continuously and such insanity is hardly curable so that the continuance of marriage cannot be expected, the other may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has broken a bond of good behavior executed by him or her, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse is suffering from a communicable and dangerous disease which is incurable and may cause injury to the other, the latter may file a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has a physical disadvantage so as to be permanently unable to cohabit as husband and wife, the other may enter a claim for divorce.
Filing for a Divorce
Three types of couples who can file for divorce in Thailand. They include the following:
- Marriage between two people from Thailand;
- Marriage between a Thai national and a foreign national; and
- Marriage between people from two different countries, known as an intercultural marriage.
As you might suspect, divorce is easy when it is done between two Thai nationals, particularly if the divorce is uncontested. Regardless of your circumstances, you need to file a divorce at a district office when you both agree to end your marriage.
What You Should Do if the Marriage Was Held Outside of Thailand
You may wonder what you should do if the marriage was held outside the country and one of you is from Thailand. In this case, check first to see if the marriage was reported at the district office where the Thai spouse resides. If so, you can easily file an uncontested divorce at the district office of the marriage registration.
If the marriage was not reported within Thailand, you need to report the marriage registration at a district office. The certificate of marriage will be needed and should be written in the Thai language. Also, the marriage certificate, if translated to the Thai language, needs to be authorized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm its authenticity.
As you can see, you need to be knowledgeable about how the divorce process works and how it will affect you. By calling an attorney, you can find out what you will need in terms of documentation and learn more about the steps of the process. Divorcing in Thailand involves some legalities that need to be reviewed fully before you submit a filing. Divorces in Thailand can end for one of various reasons. That is why you need to fully apprise yourself of your situation before you go ahead and file for divorce or void your marriage. Whether the divorce is mutual (an easy way to end a marriage) or complicated and costly (a contested divorce), you will find that following an attorney’s recommendations will help you achieve your needs with respect to a just and fair settlement.
If you have questions about divorce in Thailand, feel free to contact us at Siam Legal.