In Thailand, there are two types of divorce, the contested and the uncontested. To differentiate the two using simple terms, the contested divorce involves a court decision in ending the marriage while the uncontested divorce is more of voluntary in nature as the couple simply have to be present at the registration office to officially declare their intention to severe their marriage.
Even if the couple’s marriage was not registered in Thailand, either can still opt to have a contested divorce in the country if:
- One of them is a Thai national.
- One of them has been working in Thailand for some time. Further, this spouse should have a proper work permit.
- One of them is a Thai permanent resident.
- A ground for divorce is present as stated by Thai law but only one of them is willing to severe their marriage through a divorce.
- Issues that prevents an amicable and voluntary divorce proceeding to occur such as issues on marital and child custodies.
- If the couple’s request for a Thai court to assume jurisdiction over their non-Thai registered marriage has been granted.
Grounds for Divorce
A spouse cannot simply file for a contested divorce simply because he/she wants to end the marriage. Filing for a contested divorce needs to have a ground that should be established and this could be any of any of the following:
One of the spouses as taken in another person as his/her spouse apart from his/her wife/husband.
- Gross Misconduct
One spouse has caused the other serious shame or has been insulted as a result of the former’s indiscretions.
At least one spouse has inflicted physical or emotional harm on the other and or if that spouse has insulted and cause great disrespect to the other’s ascendants.
If one spouse has left the other for more than a year without due reason or if the couple has been living separately for more than three years because of a court order or agreement of both parties.
Also, if one of the couple has been sentenced for imprisonment of which one spouse has no knowledge or involvement of the crime committed by the other.
If a spouse has left their common home and for more than three years, he/she has failed to initiate contact with the spouse he/she left that establishing whether he/she is still alive or is already dead cannot be done, the spouse he/she left can file for a divorce.
If one spouse has failed to provide proper maintenance or support to the other of which is part of his/her duty on their marriage.
If one of the spouses is suffering from insanity for at least three years and his/her condition has caused cohabitation of the couple to be difficult through those years, one may file for a divorce.
- Bond of Good Behavior
A spouse needs to have a bond of good behavior executed by him/her and his/her spouse before this can be used as a ground for divorce.
- Communicable and Serious Disease
If one spouse is suffering from a communicable, serious and incurable disease that can cause significant illness to the other, the latter may use this as a ground for divorce.
- Physical Disadvantage
If one of the spouses has physical disadvantage, the other may file for a divorce.
Who can file for contested divorce?
It is the aggrieved/innocent party who can file for a contested divorce.
From Contested to Uncontested Divorce
The party who filed the divorce case or even both parties can decide to withdraw the contested divorce case in court and opt to severe their marriage through an uncontested divorce.
Other Important Details of a Contested Divorce
The innocent party may file the case personally or may choose to have his/her lawyer file the case for him/her. However, when the case has been filed, the aggrieved party has to appear before the court at least once to give his/her testimony on the matter.
On the other hand, the erring party also needs to appear before the court otherwise he/she will be declared in default by the court of which he/she looses his/her right to present his/her evidence to refute the claims of the aggrieved party and the court will have to base its decision on the testimony and evidences provided by the aggrieved party.
The distribution of marital properties and the issue on child custody will be decided by the court basing on the applicable Thai laws if and when the couple were not able to arrive to a compromise agreement on these.
If the courts finds that a divorce is warranted, both parties should not stop on receiving the divorce decrees alone but they should have their copies translated from Thai into English and have these notarized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand.
They should inquire with their respective embassies whether the said translated and legalized divorce decree needs to be submitted there.
The Thai national will need to report/register his/her divorce at the registrar’s office nearest to his place of residence. Furthermore, Thai woman should also report her divorce to the proper authorities and return to use her maiden name.