Divorce in Thailand
Divorce in Thailand can be costly and time consuming. If both spouses agree to end the marriage then an administrative divorce registration at the district office (Khet in Bangkok or Amphoe in the province) is an option.
The terms of a divorce such as division of assets and custody will be decided by the court based on Thai law and individual circumstances.
Uncontested divorces in Thailand are a cheaper option and can be faster than contested divorces. However, in a case where there are issues between the parties that cannot be settled through negotiation or an agreement by both parties the couple will need to go to court to have a judge decide on these issues for them.
When there is a dispute between the parties they will have to submit an application to the court to file an action for divorce. This is where a judge will decide on the terms of the divorce including property division and alimony. A contested divorce can be much more costly than an uncontested one as there is more work involved for the lawyer and also more time required to attend court proceedings.
A contested divorce can be filed by both parties or by the plaintiff only. The filing party or parties will have to prove that they have grounds for divorce under Thai law. Normally this would include some form of abuse within the marriage or that there are other issues that the couple cannot settle through negotiations. The court will then consider the evidence and make a decision on the grounds for the divorce and how the assets and debts of the marriage will be divided.
It is important for any couple considering divorce to seek legal advice. A lawyer will be able to provide expert legal advice on the procedure, the options available and any other issues that may arise. A seasoned attorney will also be able to help the spouses draw up a divorce settlement agreement, which will set out the arrangements for the divorcing couple, and ensure that it is legally binding in accordance with Thai law.
A drafted divorce settlement agreement will need to be signed by both spouses and also by 2 witnesses prior to the registration of the divorce at the Amphoe. The agreement will also need to be translated and legalized by the embassy of the foreign spouse to be enforceable overseas.
Oftentimes the terms of the divorce are contested by one or both parties. This is a more complicated and time consuming process. In such cases it is best to consult a Thai divorce lawyer who can represent your interests in the case. A lawyer can ensure that you receive everything you are entitled to under Thai law. In addition a lawyer can make sure that your rights are upheld and that any agreements reached during the divorce are legally binding.
The procedure for a contested divorce requires the filing of a petition with the court citing grounds for the divorce. These may include 3 years’ separation, a one year period of desertion or adultery. It is also possible to get a judicial divorce when there are disagreements on matters such as finances and care of any children from the marriage. A judicial divorce requires several court appearances and a good Thai divorce lawyer is recommended.
Under the Thailand law of property and custody of children upon divorce a couple’s marital properties (sin somros) are divided equally while personal property (sin suan tua) remains owned by the individual. A prenuptial agreement however could change the division of assets and property.
In many cases a divorce registered in Thailand is recognized in other countries such as the United States and the UK. However the recognition of such a divorce depends on the laws and practices of the country in question. It is important for international couples to consider their situation and the impact of a divorce in Thailand on the country where they live. It is especially important to discuss the matter with a Thai divorce lawyer before seeking a divorce in Thailand.