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Considerations for Divorce in Thailand
Generally speaking, if you or your spouse are currently residing in Thailand you may be able to file for a divorce under Thai law provided there are "grounds" (reasons) for the divorce. If the marriage was registered in Thailand and both spouses consent then the process is administrative and relatively simple compared to a court divorce.
Thailand Consensual Divorce or Uncontested Divorce
If you registered your marriage at a Thailand local district office (Khet or Amphur) you may register for an administrative Thailand divorce. Performing an administrative divorce at the local district office requires that you and your spouse do not have any disagreements over child custody or property. If there are assets to be divided or issues regarding custody of children, then the divorcing spouses can negotiate a settlement agreement for the divorce and this should be registered at the same time as the administrative divorce is registered
What if my spouse does not consent to a divorce?
If your wife or husband does not agree to a divorce, or if you both cannot agree on financial issues, division or asserts or child custody, then a divorce may be filed with the Thai Court (provided that other requirements are met). Grounds for divorce must be demonstrated to the court and you must make a personal appearance in court. In Thailand grounds for divorce include:
* A 3 year period of separation
* One spouse has deserted the other for over one year
* The husband has taken another woman as his wife
* The wife has committed adultery
* One spouse is guilty of misconduct (criminal or otherwise)
* One spouse has been imprisoned for more than one year
* One spouse has physically or mentally harmed the other
* Lack of marital support
* One spouse has had incurable insanity for at least 3 years
* One spouse has broken the bond of good behavior
* One spouse has an incurable communicable disease
* One spouse has a physical disability so as to be unable to cohabitate as husband and wife.
Can spouses living outside of Thailand file for a divorce in Thai Court?
If the divorce is uncontested, both parties will still need to appear at the Amphur office to register the divorce.
A contested divorce however requires a judgment from the Court. If you are now living abroad, the Thai Court may, potentially, still have jurisdiction over a divorce action under some circumstances. Therefore an attorney may still be able to file a divorce complaint on your behalf although you may not currently be located in Thailand. However, normally a plaintiff (the spouse who files the divorce complaint) must appear in person at least one time during the court process.
If you reside in Thailand but your spouse is not present or will not return to Thailand for the divorce process, you may still be able to proceed provided that he or she has received adequate notice of the divorce action. Service must be applied through a Thai court if your spouse is not in Thailand and substitute service, (such as by publication) may be allowed in certain circumstances. If you spouse does not respond to service from the court, the divorce case may proceed by default.
How is property and outstanding debts divided in the event of divorce?
Thailand is a "Community Property" jurisdiction. When a couple divorce in Thailand, separate property ("sin suan tua"), namely assets and property acquired before marriage, generally remains the property of the owner. Assets and property acquired during marriage are commonly considered community property ("Sapsin somrot") with both spouses having equal ownership rights. The rules regarding division of property are complex and the Thai Court will divide the property according to the law and individual facts of the case.
However, in a negotiated settlement divorcing spouses may alter their division of property as they choose. Also, prenuptial agreements can alter the distribution of property during a divorce.
Debts incurred during the marriage, whether they are household, medical, or educational, are normally the responsibility of both parties.
What if I have a prenuptial agreement?
Prenuptial agreements are allowed in Thailand provided they meet the procedural requirements of Thai law. A properly executed prenuptial agreement is usually considered a valid legal agreement in other international jurisdictions that accord with basic principle of fairness and due process that are procedurally stricter than Western Common Law jurisdictions. Thailand has its own requirements for registering a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage. If your marriage and prenuptial agreements were executed or registered in another nation a Thai Court will normally accept the agreement if it adheres to requirements of the foreign law.
Will my country accept a Thailand Divorce as legal?
Normally pursuant to the legal principle of "Comity" Thai divorces are acceptual by most if not all developed nations. (fundanalolist Muslim nations, However, may have different requirements pursuant to Sharing law horser.)
The principle of comity as used in recognizing foreign divorce decrees was first ruled on Hilton v. Cugot on 1895 US Supreme Court case.