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Divorce law in Thailand

Divorcing under Thai divorce laws

In general a marriage in Thailand is terminated by death, divorce or being cancelled by the court. In Thailand there are two ways of divorcing, this can be done through a court procedure (contested divorce) or by the Marriage Registrar upon mutual request (uncontested divorce). In an uncontested divorce, when both husband and wife agree to end the marriage, the Registrar of marriages (local Amphur) has the authority to end the marriage.

Thai civil law, section 1514:
'Divorce may be effected only by mutual consent or by judgment of the court. Divorce effected by mutual consent must be made in writing and certified by the signatures of at least two witnesses.'

Thai civil law, section 1515:

'divorce by mutual consent is valid only if the registration thereof is effected by both the husband and wife'.

A divorce by mutual consent is effected by registration of the divorce agreement by the competent official at the local amphur office in Thailand and requires both spouses to be present. The spouses must agree to end the marriage and agree to the division of marital assets and debts, custody of children and if any and how much alimony will be paid. If there is no agreement between husband and wife (contested divorce) on these subjects each of them can file a petition for the dissolution of the marriage by the court and the court will end the marriage when there are grounds for divorce and decide on these matters for them according to marriage and family laws and individual circumstances of the parties.

uncontested divorce

When both parties agree on the terms of the divorce the procedure at the local Amphur will be shorter, less expensive and less time consuming. It is not required that the parties request a divorce at the same location where the marriage is registered, but both husband and wife must be personally present when filing for a divorce on mutual consent. No direct Thai lawyer representation is required, but a divorce settlement agreement could be prepared before going to the amphur (unless the divorce is very simple).

contested divorce

A contested divorce, i.e. dissolution of the marriage by the judgment of the court in Thailand, will take considerably more time, money and requires several court appearances and representation of a Thai lawyer. Divorce following an application to the court through a lawyer of one of the parties.

Grounds for divorce (contested)

When both spouses agree to divorce and agree on the terms the parties do not have to give or proof any grounds for divorce. This is different when the marriage needs to be ended by a judge in a court. The grounds for action for divorce for a judgment of a court (section 1516 civil code) are as follows:

  1. one spouse (husband or wife) has given maintenance to or honored such other 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;
  2. one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offence 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;
  3. 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;
  4. one spouse has deserted the other for more than one year, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
    • 1one spouse had been sentenced by a final judgment of the Court and has been imprisoned for more than one year in the offence committed without any participation, consent or in the knowledge of the other, and the cohabitation as husband and wife will cause the other party sustain excessive injury or trouble, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
    • 2 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;
  5. one spouse has been adjudged to have disappeared, or as left his or her domicile or residence for more than three years and being uncertain whether he or she is living or dead;
  6. 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;
  7. 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;
  8. one spouse has broken a bond of good behavior executed by him or her, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
  9. 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;
  10. 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.

Marital property and divorce in Thailand:

Upon divorce all property of husband and wife (sin somros or jointly ownerd marital assets and debts) shall be divided equally between man and woman (section 1533). Who gets what is often a subject of disagreement between husband and wife in a divorce and often comes down who can proves what he or she has brought into the marriage (do you have a prenuptial agreement). Without any evidence of an asset being personal (in Thai referred to as 'Sin Suan Tua' and described in section 1471) any assets aquired during the marriage will be considered property of husband and wife (called 'sim somros' in Thai and described in section 1474).

Personal property and divorce in Thailand:

Personal property is separate property belonging only to one spouse, is managed by one spouse and does not need to be divided during divorce. Peronal property remains with the spouse who owns it. Personal assets are (section 1471):

  • property belonging to either spouse before marriage;
  • property for personal use, dress or ornament suitable for station in life, or tools necessary for carrying on the profession of either spouse;
  • property acquired by either spouse during marriage through a will or gift;
  • Khongman.

Family laws in Thailand specify what is and remains personal property, therefore not everything acquired during the marriage becomes jointly owned marital property. Some property acquired during the marriage remains personal. The civil code (section 1472) specifies that when personal property has been exchanged to other property, other property has been bought or money has been acquired from selling it, such other property or money acquired shall be, or remain, personal property of that spouse. However, in case of doubt whether a property is personal or marital, it shall be presumed to be marital property (section 1474). A form of registration of personal property is recommended and could start with a prenuptial agreenent listing personal property at the time of marriage.

See also

(c) 2011

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