May 27, 2018

Thailand Divorce

Thailand Divorce Law Background

Thailand has two basic types of divorce procedures: an administrative divorce at local district offices and court divorces adjudicated by a Thai judge.  Sharia law (Islamic law) divorces are also granted in some Southern Thailand provinces that have a majority Muslim population.

The first issues to consider when contemplating a divorce are whether Thailand has jurisdiction for the divorce and, if there is jurisdiction, then what type of divorce would be appropriate.

Thailand Divorce Law Jurisdiction

Thailand has jurisdiction to lawfully grant a divorce when the marriage was originally registered in Thailand and/or when one spouse has residence in Thailand and there are lawful grounds for the divorce.

Thailand law provides for consensual no-fault divorce when the marriage was originally registered in one of Thailand’s District offices.  However both parties must consent to the divorce.  In many cases, however, an administrative divorce is more difficult than it first appears because although the parties may agree in principle to a divorce, they have disagreements about child custody, financial issues or other issues.

If the spouses were not married in Thailand and/or they do not consent to a divorce or cannot reach an agreement on all the issues surrounding a divorce, then the only alternative would be a court divorce.  However, jurisdiction for a court divorce has several conditions.  First, at least one of the spouses must have a lawful residence in Thailand.  Secondly, there must be lawful grounds for the divorce.  A “grounds for divorce in Thailand”, means a reason for the divorce that is allowed by Thailand law.

Grounds for Divorce in Thailand

Grounds for Divorce are normally required in court ordered divorce.  The basic grounds for divorce in Thailand include the following:

  1. One spouse has committed adultery, had regular intercourse with another person, or honored another person as a husband or wife.
  2. One spouse is guilty of misconduct (including criminal offenses and causing physical or psychological harm).
  3. One spouse has caused serious harm to the body or mind of the other, or has seriously insulted them or their parents.
  4. One spouse has deserted the other for more than one year.
  5. One spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance or support.
  6. One spouse has had incurable insanity for three years continuously.
  7. One spouse has left the marital home for more than three years.
  8. One spouse has broken a bond of good behavior.
  9. One spouse is suffering from a dangerous communicable disease which may cause injury to the other.
  10. One spouse has a physical disability, causing them to be permanently unable to cohabit as husband and wife.

Thailand courts normally require sufficient evidence establishing one or more of these grounds in order to provide a grant of divorce. Basic evidence normally includes testimony by the plaintiff that establishes a case. A showing of grounds of jurisdiction is also required.

Division of Property and Outstanding Debts

Thailand is a “Community Property” jurisdiction. Thailand law provides for “Community Property”, meaning the shared property belongs to both spouses equally, and Separate Property (“sin suan tua”). Assets and property acquired before marriage, generally remains the property of the original 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 normally required by the law to a different division of assets according to an agreement. Further, 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 (unless altered by a prenuptial agreement or by contract.).

 “No-Fault” divorce in Thailand

In one sense, Thailand does allow for “no-fault” divorce: when the divorce is consensual and registered in an administrative process at one of Thailand’s District offices.

However, not all marriages are able to be ended through the administrative process. In general, only those married couples who originally registered their marriages in Thailand may also divorce through the administrative process at District offices.

For marriages that do not qualify for the administrative divorce process, lawful ground for divorce must be proven to the Thai courts for a divorce to be granted. Therefore, in this sense, Thailand courts do not allow for “No-Fault” divorce.

Thailand-Divorce-Attorny

What if I have a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements are enforced in Thailand provided they meet the procedural and substantive requirements of Thai law. Thailand also includes Conflict of Law, which may cause the Thai court to examine foreign law in certain instances.  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. Procedural requirements for prenuptial agreements may be stricter in Western Common Law jurisdictions. On the other hand, many western jurisdictions have fewer requirements for approving prenuptial agreements. 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.