February 23, 2018

Thailand Divorce FAQ’s

Q1. What is the difference between a Thailand divorce registered at the District office and a Thailand court divorce?

Q.2 Are Non-Thai National Foreigners Able to Receive land as Part of a Settlement or Law Judgement in a Thai Divorce in Thailand?

Q.3 Do both divorcing spouses need to be present in Thailand for a divorce?

Q.4 Can Spouses who were Married Outside of Thailand get a divorce in Thailand?

Q5. Will a divorce in Thailand be recognized in the UK or US?

Q6. What are “grounds” for a divorce and what are Thailand’s requirements for “grounds” in regard to a  divorce?

Q7. Is Alimony required by Thai law?

Q8. How do Thailand Courts determine rights to child custody between parents in a divorce case?

Q9. How Long do you Have to Wait to Get Re-Married After a Divorce?

Q10. Does Thailand Allow “No-Fault” Divorces? 

Q11. Is Same-Sex Divorce Allowed in Thailand?

Q1. What is the difference between a Thailand divorce registered at the District office and a Thailand court divorce?

A.1 Most divorces in Thailand fall in 2 categories: Administrative divorce and court divorces. Administrative divorce registrations are allowed in Thailand at government District offices provided that the couple was married in Thailand and they agree to the divorce. Divorce complaints can normally be filed provided that there is a valid jurisdiction in the Thailand Court to hear the divorce and there is a valid ground for divorce.  Court divorces are normally filed in Thailand courts when the spouses cannot agree either to the divorce or to the terms of the divorce.

Q.2 Are Non-Thai National Foreigners Able to Receive land in Thailand as Part of a Settlement or Law Judgement in a Divorce in Thailand?

A.2 In general, Thai law prohibits foreigners owning land in Thailand. Pursuant to a 1999 Ministry of Interior regulation. However, a foreigner married to a Thai national can purchase land, but the land must be registered as a non-marital or separate personal property of the Thai spouse.

Currently when a Thai-foreign couple purchases land in Thailand, the Thailand Land Department will require that the non-Thai spouse signs a legal document that the land will be the separate property of the Thai spouse.

Nevertheless, a foreign spouse in a divorce case in Thailand Court can present evidence that Thailand land held by his or her Thai spouse is actually Community Property of the marriage (or the foreigners separate property in whole or part). Evidence to support the foreign spouse’s legal argument may include bank statements regarding the source of funds being the prenuptial agreements that state the real estate is community property, building licenses in the foreign spouse’s name, email correspondence and other evidence. The fact that foreign ownership is prohibited may not necessarily be a ban to arguing foreign ownership because the law would direct the foreign spouse to liquidate his real estate holdings within a specified time.

Q.3 Do both divorcing spouses need to be present in Thailand for a divorce?

A.3 For an administrative divorce in one of Thailand’s district offices, both divorcing parties must appear to sign and attest the divorce registration. However, for a court divorce, it is possible that one Party, usually the Defendant (the spouse who receives the complaint, rather than the spouse who sends the complaint) may be able to be represented in court by a licensed Attorney and therefore may, potentially, not need to appear.

Q.4 Can Spouses who were Married Outside of Thailand get a divorce in Thailand?

A.4 Foreign nationals may potentially, use the Thailand legal system to get a divorce in Thailand even if they were married outside of Thailand provided they meet jurisdiction requirements of the Thailand courts. The requirements of court include one spouse residing in Thailand (or being a registered Thai national) or having married in Thailand. There must also be a valid ground for the divorce to access Thai Courts as well.

On the other hand, to qualify to register an administrative divorce (as opposed to a Court divorce) requires that the marriage was originally registered in Thailand.

Q5. Will a divorce in Thailand be recognized in the UK or US?

A.5 Normally, divorces are recognized internationally if the legal system that granted the divorce meets basic due process requirements. According to the legal principle called “Comity” divorces are normally recognized by other nations and states based on respect for other nation’s law and legal process.

However, this is because divorces are adjudicated by a court and therefore have several levels of due process protections. Court divorces from Thailand are more universally recognized than are administrative divorces. For certain legal actions, the divorce in Thailand must be by a court order rather than an administrative registrations.  For example, the UK has special requirements in this regard.  An overseas divorce obtained otherwise than by means of proceedings is recognized in the UK if:

  • It is effective under the law of the country in which it was obtained.
  • At the date on which the divorce was obtained, both parties were domiciled in that country or one was domiciled there while the other was domiciled in a country which recognized the divorce.
  • Neither party had been habitually resident in the UK throughout the period of one year immediately preceding that date.

Q6. What are “grounds” for a divorce and what are Thailand’s requirements for “grounds” in regard to a  divorce?

A.6 “Grounds” is the legal terms for legal reasons that may be accepted in Thailand courts for a divorce case.  In order for a complaint for divorce to be accepted in Thailand courts, the complaint must provide evidence that shows that a ground for a divorce.  For example, adultery or abandonment by any spouse are valid grounds for divorce that would allow the aggrieved spouse to file a divorce complaint.

In administrative divorces at Thailand district office, divorce is consensual, and grounds for a divorce are not required.  Therefore registering an administrative divorce is similar to filing a divorce in a “no fault” jurisdiction, while filing a court claim follows the more traditional rule wherein there must be a legal reason for the divorce

Under Thai Law, there are twelve grounds for divorce in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Q7. Is Alimony required by Thai law?

A.7 Alimony is the payment a court order of one divorcing spouse to pay the living expenses of the other spouse.  Normally to receive alimony, the spouse requesting alimony must show that they have no income and have become dependent on the support of the divorcing spouse.  Alimony is often referred to as “maintenance” and is required pursuant to Thailand law under certain circumstances.

In general, alimony is required based on the needs of the ex-spouse requesting the financial support. However, alimony financial amounts is normally ordered for a shorter period of time and is normally significantly less than would be ordered by Western nation courts.   In consensual administrative divorces, alimony not is required unless the parties make an agreement that includes alimony.

Q8. How do Thailand Courts determine rights to child custody between parents in a divorce case?

A.8 Child custody disputes between parents are quite common in divorce cases.  However, custody disputes can also arise between unmarried parents.  Without a court order changing custody., Thailand law grants both lawful parents with full custodial rights. However, one important point is that biological fathers may believe that they are a lawful parent.  However legal issues often surround the finding of paternity. In other words, Thailand law requires that to be a lawful father with parental rights the father must be married to the lawful mother or obtain an order of paternity from a Thai court of government office.

Q9. How Long do you Have to Wait to Get Re-Married After a Divorce?

A.9 According to section 1453 of the Marriage Law of Thailand, Chapter II: Conditions of Marriage, there must be a waiting period of 310 days since the termination of the previous marriage or of the dead spouse. Conditions that pervade this section include:

  • Having a child during the waiting period
  • The spouses who have terminated their marriage, remarry
  • A court order allowing the woman to remarry
  • A medical doctors confirmation of no pregnancy

The purpose of the waiting period is to prevent a child from a prior husband being born during the second marriage. This is because there is a presumption that a child born during wedlock is the child of the husband. Normally, this provision can be waived based on a medical exam result showing no pregnancy.

Q10. Does Thailand Allow “No-Fault” Divorces?

A.10 Thailand’s family law system is relatively traditional and requires a legal reason, also known as a “ground for divorce” in order to divorce in Thailand’s Court’s. Thailand’s Courts require a factual basis that the spouse requesting a divorce has a justification for doing so. “Thailand Grounds for Divorce” include abandonment, adultery and long term separation. Nevertheless, consensual divorce without “grounds” is allowed for an administrative divorce at Bangkok’s District Office.

Q11. Is Same-Sex Divorce Allowed in Thailand?

A.11 Thailand does not allow for gay or same sex marriage. Although, there is no law expressing dis-allowing same-sex divorce, the Thai Courts may not accept a same-sex divorce based on the lack of recognition of same-sex marriage. However, we are doubtful the Thailand Supreme Court has not addressed the issue of same-sex divorce.

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Thailand Divorce FAQ's
Article Name
Thailand Divorce FAQ's
Description
FAQ's concerning Thailand divorce law and legal procedures. Include questions on Court requirements, jurisdiction administration divorce vs. Court divorce and international enforcement Thailand of divorce decisions.
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Chaninat and Leeds
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