You need to bring to the registration office your passport (if a foreigner), Thai spouses citizens ID card, original marriage certificate, and a divorce contract (if any). The divorce contract is the settlement agreement between you and your spouse on how property is divided, support issues, child custody, and visitation rights.
Once you get to the registration office where you registered your marriage, inform the officer that you want to register your divorce. You will be asked the terms of your settlement for your assets, your childrens living arrangement, child support, alimony, and other matters. It is recommended that you decide these maters beforehand and record them in a divorce contract. This will expedite the process and help ensure there are no disagreements before you go to the registration office. After you fill out a request form and sign it, the registrar will issue a divorce certificate along with a divorce registration that contains the details of the conditions of the divorce. The process requires a minimal fee.
The wife may change her last name back to her maiden name. (Thai law now allows a woman to choose to keep her maiden name when she gets married.)
Divorce With A Court Order
If your spouse refuses to give you a divorce or you cannot agree on the terms of settlement, you may go to court and obtain a divorce. Thai law requires that you establish grounds for a divorce before the court will grant the divorce.
Grounds For Divorce
The process of petitioning the court for a divorce is complicated, so you will need to hire a lawyer. A lawyer can process the divorce in court and act on your behalf if you are living outside Thailand. To do so, you will need to provide him with a power of attorney.
You will have to supply your lawyer with the facts regarding your marriage, children (if any), assets, and pertinent dates and circumstances of the marriage. If you have a prenuptial agreement, it will be reviewed and considered in the Thai court. Remember that Thailand is considered a community property jurisdiction, so property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, with half going to each spouse. If you have considerable assets in your home country, and are seeking a divorce in Thailand, division of those assets will be very complicated and involve conflicts of law and other concepts outside the scope of this book. You will need the assistance of an attorney in Thailand and your home country to resolve these issues. Also, both parties are responsible for debts incurred during the course of the marriage.
If the parties cannot decide on a settlement agreement for the division of property, child custody and support, and other such matters, die court will decide for them. This is almost never a good resolution and will significantly increase the costs for obtaining the divorce. Fees for having this process done by a lawyer for a simple case can start at approximately 30,000 baht and exceed 100,000 baht depending on how complex the case is. It takes two months or longer to get a court order for dissolution. The lawyer will represent you in the preliminary hearings, but you may have to appear in court if the court orders you to do so.
A court order dissolves the marriage and the divorcing parties do not need to register their divorce. If there are other conditions that they want to register, they can do so in the presence of a registrar officer to finalize the divorce.
If you register your marriage in your home country, your divorce will need to take place there and will be processed according to the laws of your home country. You will need to consult with a lawyer from your home county to determine the steps necessary to get your divorce.
Thai law sets out the following grounds for a divorce:
- The husband has treated or honored another woman as his own wife, or the wife has committed adultery.
- One spouse has committed a criminal offence or a serious act of misconduct. (Thai law does not define misconduct, but acts that shame the other spouse or subject them to insults or ridicule will suffice.)
- One spouse has harmed the other or suffers from mental illness.
- One spouse has deserted the other for one year or more.
- Either party has lived separately for three years or more.
- One spouse has disappeared for three years or more.
- There is a lack of marital support from the other. (Thai law requires both parties to the marriage to support the other to the extent they are able to. If one party does not, it is grounds for. divorce.)
- One spouse has been declared insane for more than three years and is not curable.
- One spouse has broken the bond of good behavior. (Thai law allows the parties to a marriage to enter into an agreement of good behavior and define the terms within the agreement. If one party fails to live up to this agreement, it is grounds for divorce.)
- One spouse has an incurable disease that may affect the other.
- One spouse has a permanent physical handicap that makes it impossible to cohabit as husband and wife.