There is no separate law for divorce in Thailand. The divorce code is part of the Civil and Commercial Code under Book V Title 1 Part VI.
Under this code, a divorce in the Kingdom can either be contested or uncontested.
An uncontested divorce is relatively easier to execute and more cost effective of the two as it is streamed from a mutual agreement of both spouses to end their marriage legally for various reasons.
They do not have to go to court to end their marriage but although not really required, they may still involve their lawyers when they approach an Amphur where they will put into writing their agreement of ending their marriage as all documents are written in Thai and especially if the couple has properties in between them. They must also involve at least two witnesses who will certify the wishes of the couple to end their marriage.
The written agreement will have to be submitted at the Amphur or Registration Office with the following:
- Their certificate of marriage,
- Passports especially if either or both is/are foreigner/s who registered their marriage in Thailand,
- Photos and,
- The written agreement with signatures of qualified witnesses.
Even with complete requirements and the divorce agreement has been signed by two competent witnesses, will only become into effect if it is officially registered with the Amphur.
Of the two divorce options, a contested divorce is far more stressful for both parties as the judgment may not come immediately or that the court may judge that the marriage is best to continue to be in existence rather than to end it.
A contested divorce is also a lot more costly.
It is also possible that uncontested divorce may end up being a contested divorce if both parties are not able to reach a mutual decision to end their marriage outside of court. But then, the petitioner at court will have a difficult task to prove beyond reasonable doubt that their marriage has no other option but be ended as allowed by the Thai law.
In relation to this, there are a number of “grounds” for the dissolution of marriage and these are the following:
- The husband is involved with another woman other than his wife
- The wife has committed adultery.
- If either of the spouse has committed an infraction, be it criminal in form or has caused his/her spouse:
- serious shame;
- being insulted or hated in relation to the continuation of being husband and wife by the offending spouse;
- and to be subjected into excessive injury or trouble where the condition, position and cohabitation as husband and wife are taken into consideration.
- If one spouse has caused physical or emotional harm to his/her spouse or that of his/her ascendants.
- If one of the spouses has been sentenced by court and sent to prison for more than a year in which such offence that caused his/her sentencing has no participation, consent or knowledge from the other spouse and if continued cohabitation as a couple will cause one party a sustained and excessive injury or trouble.
- If the husband and the wife have, without due force from one to another, chose to live separately by mutual decision or as mandated by the court of law for more than 3 years, either party may file for divorce.
- If one spouse is proven to have left their residence for more than 3 years and whether he/she is alive or dead is uncertain.
- If one spouse has been lacking in providing support and maintenance to another or he/she has committed acts that has cause undue injury to their marriage as husband and wife.
- If a spouse has been suffering from insanity for more than 3 years in continuous fashion with such insanity being established as hardly curable that it threatens the continuation of the marriage.
- If one of the spouses has broken a bond of good behavior executed by the husband or the wife.
- If one of the spouses is suffering from an incurable disease that threatens the overall health of the other spouse.
- If one of the spouses is physically challenged that he/she cannot perform his/her obligation as husband or wife.
The Contested Divorce Procedure
Even if the petition for divorce is officially filed at the court of law, the court will not automatically act on its resolution by executing a judgment. It will still act as a meditating party between the opposing spouses for possible resolution through negotiation.
If no agreement between both parties is reached, the court procedure will proceed but the court’s decision to end the marriage may prove to be difficult especially on the part of the petitioner because the burden of proof resides in him/her.
If the court favors and decides to grant the petition for divorce, the court will then have to inform the Registration Office for registration and only then will the divorce become official when a divorce certificate is released.