There are times that relationships become irrevocably strained to the point of no return. In such cases, it may be necessary to end the marriage by divorce.
For a divorce by mutual consent, both parties must personally attend at the amphur to file for an administrative divorce registration. This type of divorce is less expensive than a contested divorce.
There are two types of dissolution of marriage in Thailand, a contested divorce and an administrative divorce. A contested divorce is typically a court divorce which involves one of the spouses filing a legal complaint with a Thai Family Court in order to bring an end to the marriage based on any ground that would be applicable under the law (link to sections below).
An uncontested divorce on the other hand does not require a definite reason or grounds for terminating a marriage as long as both parties agree to sever their relationship and this agreement is registered with the local register office (amphur or khet). This type of divorce requires the presence of both spouses as well as an interpreter if a foreigner is required to present himself/herself.
If a couple has registered their marriage at any District office then they may also file for an administrative divorce registration at the same office (provided both spouses are in agreement). This procedure will be a quicker option compared to a contested divorce.
Mutual Consent Divorce
If you and your spouse both wish to divorce, this can be done without going through a court case. This is called a mutual consent divorce.
This is a quick and inexpensive option. However, the divorce will not be legally recognized in other jurisdictions including some western embassies. Therefore, we recommend that you always go through the proper contested or uncontested court process.
An contested divorce requires the couple to have a legal ruling regarding the distribution of marital or joint assets and common debts. The court will also make a ruling regarding custody of children and if needed, alimony settlements. A contested divorce usually takes significantly more time, money and physical court appearances than a divorce by mutual consent. It is a good idea for couples seeking divorce to retain a lawyer during this process to ensure they are protected and getting the most out of their agreement. This is especially true when it comes to expats who have children involved.
If the parties cannot reach an agreement regarding their divorce or the care of any children, one spouse may file for a contested divorce. This is the legal process of ending a marriage in Thailand and it involves going to court. It is more complicated and costly than the administrative divorce.
The plaintiff must cite one of the grounds for divorce provided under Thai law which include 3 years’ separation, a year of desertion, adultery and failure by a spouse to provide maintenance. The court will then consider the issue and make a decision.
In case of a contested divorce, the court will divide all marital properties between husband and wife according to Thai law which includes real estate, vehicles and other assets acquired during marriage. However, personal property held by a party prior to the marriage remains their sole ownership. For this reason, it is advisable for you to seek professional legal advice to ensure that your rights are protected.
If the married couple agrees to all aspects of a divorce including property division, alimony and custody issues it is possible for them to register an administrative Thailand divorce at their local district office. This process is called a mutual consent divorce and requires that both husband and wife be present for the registration of the divorce. It could be a good idea for the couple to draw up their divorce settlement agreement with the help of their Thai family lawyer before they head to the district office.
It is important to understand that an administrative divorce is not a fully legalized Thailand divorce and the divorce will not be recognized by most countries as valid. A contested divorce is required if one spouse is not happy with the terms agreed to by the couple. One spouse can file a claim for a contested divorce on the basis of lawful grounds such as infidelity, desertion for three years and undue enrichment (Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code). An experienced Thailand divorce lawyer can assist you with this process.