What Is the Process for Divorce in Thailand?

Navigating the process of divorce, especially in a foreign country, can be a complex and emotionally challenging experience. In the case of Thailand, the process for divorce varies based on factors such as the nationality of the spouses, the presence of children, and the mode of marriage. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of divorce in Thailand, including the types of divorce, jurisdictional requirements, child custody determinations, alimony and property division, visa implications, and the importance of legal counsel in ensuring a fair and just resolution.

Reasons for Divorce in Thailand

There are many reasons why a marriage may fail and the parties involved want to seek a divorce. However, depending on the circumstances, divorce can be a difficult process, especially if one of the parties is a foreigner and if there are children and property involved.

Couples in a discussion.
Couples in a discussion.

Types of Marriages Eligible for Divorce in Thailand

Divorces in Thailand are typically only possible when:

  • The marriage is between two Thai nationals
  • The marriage is between a Thai national and a foreigner
  • The marriage is between two foreigners resulting in an intercultural marriage

As a standard, the marriage should have been reported to the district office. The divorce should also then be filed at the same district office.

Uncontested Divorce in Thailand

Uncontested divorce, also referred to as administrative divorce, occurs when both spouses come to mutually agreed upon terms for the dissolution of the marriage. This is the preferred option as it is straightforward and fast, and the couple does not even have to give grounds for divorce. Their mutual agreement and consent for the divorce are enough.

Both parties must present themselves physically at the local district registration office or Amphur where their marriage was reported. The divorce statement must be in writing and signed off by the couple divorcing and two witnesses. The agreement should detail all the terms of the divorce. They also need to provide their original marriage certificate and government-issued identification documents. The process can be completed within a day.

Contested Divorce in Thailand

A contested or judicial divorce occurs when there is a lack of agreement by both parties on the dissolution of the marriage. For this process to take place, there must be legal grounds for divorce according to the law. Such grounds can be found under article 1516 of the Commercial and Civil Code of Thailand. Such grounds can include:

  • Adultery by one of the spouses
  • Physical or mental abuse to a spouse or their parents
  • Mental incapacitation of one of the spouses for more than three years
  • Desertion of the marriage for more than one year
  • Living separately for more than three years
  • Failure to financially support the marriage by one of the spouses
  • One of the spouses acquires a communicable and dangerous disease that is incurable and can harm their partner

To process a contested divorce, one of the parties will need to file a petition at the Family Court. This will allow for the other party to be served with papers and a first hearing to be scheduled. The first hearing is to arrange for mediation. If an agreement can be arrived at during mediation, it will be submitted to the court for approval.

If no agreement is reached, the case will go to trial, with the court being the one to make a judgment. This can be a lengthy and expensive process, so every effort should be made to come to a mutual agreement. Trials can last as long as 6 months with the court required to render judgment within 30 days.

International Marriages and Divorce in Thailand

Under Thai law, a couple can divorce in Thailand even if they married outside the country. The marriage, however, needs to be recognized under Thai law for the divorce process to apply to the couple.

In our experience, divorce proceedings can be especially complex when a foreigner is involved, and they are not familiar with Thai legal requirements. It’s essential to seek expert legal advice and assistance to navigate through the process successfully.

Requirements for Divorce in Thailand

In Thailand, it is possible to divorce even if the marriage took place elsewhere, provided the jurisdictional requirements of local courts are met. One of the partners must be a residing national of Thailand, and there must be legally valid grounds for the divorce under Thai law. Administrative divorces are permissible if the marriage occurred in Thailand, or if one spouse is a Thai national and the marriage was reported to the district office.

Unreported Marriages and Uncontested Divorces

If the marriage was not reported and an uncontested divorce is intended, the first step is to report the marriage registration at the district office. This entails providing the marriage certificate and an authorized translation into the Thai language by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authenticity.

Determining Child Custody

In cases involving a child, both parents receive joint custodial rights if they are the biological parents. Custody and child support details can be outlined in a divorce agreement for an uncontested divorce. In a contested divorce, terms can be specified in the divorce agreement or decided by the court during trial.

Alimony and Property Division

Alimony, or financial maintenance, may be requested during divorce proceedings. In administrative or uncontested divorces, alimony terms are agreed upon by both parties and included in the divorce statement. For contested or judicial divorces, alimony terms are established during mediation or issued as a judgment by the court if no agreement is reached.

Impact on Visa Status

Upon divorce, a marriage visa becomes invalid, and individuals may be required to leave the country immediately. Depending on individual circumstances, it may be possible to remain in Thailand until the visa’s expiry or switch to another visa category, such as a retirement visa. In such situations, consulting with the visa agent who processed the marriage visa or immigration office is recommended.

Legal Counsel

While uncontested divorces in Thailand can be straightforward, consulting with an attorney is advisable due to the binding nature of divorce agreements. Foreigners and those opting for contested or judicial divorces should engage the services of an attorney, especially when issues of child custody, support, alimony, and property division are involved.

From our perspective, consulting with an attorney is advisable due to the binding nature of divorce agreements. Foreigners and those opting for contested or judicial divorces should engage the services of an attorney, especially when issues of child custody, support, alimony, and property division are involved.

Conclusion: Whether you’re contemplating an administrative or judicial divorce in Thailand, seeking professional legal guidance is crucial. This advice is particularly pertinent for foreigners, those dealing with child custody, support, alimony, or property division matters. A seasoned attorney can help navigate the complexities, ensuring a fair and satisfactory resolution.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Yes, it is possible to divorce in Thailand even if you got married elsewhere, as long as you meet the jurisdictional requirements of the local courts. This means that at least one of the partners in the marriage should be a residing national of Thailand and there be legally valid grounds for the divorce under Thai law.

If the couple has had a child, then both get joint custodial rights over the said child. They must both be the biological parents of the child. Issues of custody and child support can be detailed in a divorce agreement if going through an uncontested divorce. With a contested divorce, however, you can either indicate terms in the divorce agreement or go to trial and have the court make the judgment.

Alimony refers to financial maintenance paid by one ex-spouse to another. It may be requested during divorce proceedings. In an administrative or uncontested divorce, the alimony terms will have been agreed upon by both parties and included in the divorce statement. In the event of a contested or judicial divorce, alimony terms will be arrived at during mediation and included in the settlement agreement. If there is no agreement, the court will issue a judgment after trial.

Yes. Once you are divorced, your marriage visa is no longer valid and you may be compelled to leave the country immediately. In some cases, you may be permitted to remain in Thailand until the expiry of your marriage visa, however, you should make enquiries at the immigration office as soon as possible.

The process for divorce in Thailand involves either an uncontested divorce, also known as an administrative divorce, where both spouses come to mutually agreed upon terms for the dissolution of the marriage, or a contested divorce which occurs when there is a lack of agreement by both parties on the dissolution of the marriage.

Both parties must present themselves physically at the local district registration office or Amphur where their marriage was reported. The divorce statement must be in writing and signed off by the couple divorcing and two witnesses. The process can be completed within a day.

Legal grounds for a contested divorce in Thailand can include adultery by one of the spouses, physical or mental abuse to a spouse or their parents, mental incapacitation of one of the spouses for more than three years, desertion of the marriage for more than one year, and others as stated under article 1516 of the Commercial and Civil Code of Thailand.

Depending on circumstances, you may be able to switch to another category like a retirement visa. It is advisable to consult with the visa agent that helped process your marriage visa for further guidance in such cases.

Yes, it is advisable to consult with an attorney, especially if you are a foreigner or opt for a contested or judicial divorce. An attorney can help navigate legal intricacies, especially concerning children custody, child support, alimony, and property division issues.

If the marriage was not reported and you intend to undertake an uncontested divorce, you need to start by first reporting the marriage registration at the district office. This will require the marriage certificate to be provided and a translation into the Thai language that has been authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to confirm authenticity.

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