Getting a divorce can be a difficult event in the best of cases. It becomes more difficult if you have to consider the fate of a minor child in addition to every other thing. Things can become even more complicated if you are a foreigner trying to get a divorce in Thailand.
There are different ways in which you can get a divorce. In this article, we explore them all and show you the different scenarios they apply. However, if you are considering getting a divorce in Thailand, you are best served to contact an experienced and competent Thailand divorce lawyer.
At Siam Legal, we will treat your divorce case with the utmost sensitivity and confidentiality. We understand the difficult time you are going through, and we work with you to ensure that you go through the transition as painlessly as possible. Reach out to us today to schedule an initial consultation.
What do I need to know about divorce in Thailand?
You can get a lawful divorce in Thailand in any of the following ways:
- Administrative divorce; it is typically registered at a local government office.
- Divorcing in court adjudicated by a Thai judge
- Sharia law, which is an Islamic law divorce
- Divorcing at a Thailand Embassy abroad
Sharia law divorces are not common, while you will need a Thailand divorce lawyer to deal with the other types of divorce.
An administrative divorce is direct and uncomplicated when compared with a court divorce. It is also referred to as a “consensual” or “uncontested” divorce. If you and your spouse consent to the divorce and your marriage has initially been registered in Thailand, you can have an administrative divorce. Marriages are registered at Thailand local districts; the districts are called Amphur. If you registered your marriage at any of these places, you could register for an administrative divorce.
As simple as it seems, however, you still need the services of a Thailand divorce lawyer. Divorces come with complex issues with far-reaching effects – even one where both parties agree to the divorce. Issues like alimony, division of marital assets, and child custody – if it applies, need to be addressed with the help of a Thailand divorce lawyer.
Sometimes, however, an administrative divorce may not be a good fit for you. An administrative divorce does not require the involvement of a judge or the court. Thus, if you or your spouse is not a Thai national and you do not have a residence in Thailand, some countries will not accept your administrative divorce as legally binding.
There are some other things you need to be aware of when contemplating an administrative divorce. They are:
- To get the divorce moving, you and your spouse have to sign a divorce agreement. You need to have two competent witnesses to the agreement. In Thailand, a competent witness is one who is a sane adult with no speaking or hearing disabilities ( Thailand Civil and Commercial Code Section 1670).
- Your divorce agreement must show who gets custody of the children if it applies to your situation (Thailand Civil and Commercial Code Section 1520).
- Furtherance to the presence of children in the marriage, you have to agree on child support – the amount, how it will be paid, where it will be paid, and when it will be paid (Thailand Civil and Commercial Code Section 1522).
- You will also have to agree on your property’s division between the two of you (Thailand Civil and Commercial Code Section 1532).
You can have your divorce in a Thailand family court if one or both of you reside in Thailand or if one or both of you is a Thai national. To get a court divorce, you need to meet the following requirements:
First, the court must have the jurisdiction to preside over your divorce case. Jurisdiction is established by either being a resident of Thailand or a Thai national.
Second, you need to establish that you have grounds for seeking a divorce. The following are the grounds for divorce recognized by Thailand courts.
Grounds for Divorce recognized in Thailand
The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand Section 1516 covers the grounds for divorce in Thailand. Under this code, you may file for a divorce in Thailand if any of the following holds:
- Adultery: if one spouse has committed adultery with another person or honored another person as either husband or wife, there are grounds for divorce.
- Misconduct from a spouse, causing the other spouse physical or psychological harm. The spouse’s misconduct does not necessarily have to be criminal.
- Verbal, psychological, or physical abuse on the part of the defendant
- Desertion: one spouse deserted the other for more than a year. This includes if the spouse was sentenced to prison for more than a year.
- The defendant has not lived with the plaintiff for more than three years due to conflicts between both parties.
- One spouse is considered by law enforcement to be missing or has disappeared for more than three years.
- The plaintiff has failed in his or her responsibilities to support and maintain his or her spouse.
- One spouse is legally insane and has been that way for more than three years. For an understanding of what applies as legal insanity in Thailand, speak with your Thailand divorce attorney.
- One spouse has broken the bond of good behavior between the couple.
- One spouse suffers from an incurable and contagious disease, which makes it impossible to live with him or her.
- One spouse has a physical disability, which makes it impossible to live with the said spouse as a couple.
To get a divorce grant based on any of the above grounds, you need to provide sufficient evidence. Your experienced and competent Thailand divorce lawyer will work with you on this.
How are property and outstanding debts divided in a Thailand divorce?
The property a couple acquires while married to each other is viewed as Community Property (“Sapsin somrot”) in Thailand, and both spouses have equal ownership rights. However, the rules of property division are complex, and while Thai courts will divide property between a couple as the law dictates, they also divide on a case-by-case basis.
If you and your spouse have a settlement negotiation in place, however, you may choose how to divide your assets and alter the law’s requirements. A prenuptial agreement between you two can also change the division of property.
You should be aware that property refers to assets, liabilities, and debts – whether household, medical, or educational. Debts are typically the responsibility of both spouses.
Get legal help
No matter how agreeable you and your spouse may seem about getting a divorce, it is still an emotional roller coaster. The period of the divorce proceedings is one that is fraught with emotional upheavals. Notwithstanding, you will need to make careful decisions about vital issues.
Making these decisions while dealing with the fact that a phase of your life is coming to an end can be tricky. Hence, it would be best to have a legal team who will watch your flank and guide you in making the right decisions for you and your children.
Our legal team at Siam Legal is just what you need. We will treat your divorce case with utmost urgency and confidentiality. Our team of expert Thai lawyers is well-versed in family law in Thailand, and we guarantee you reliable legal aid in whatever area you need it. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.