Compared with an Uncontested Divorce, a Contested Divorce, also known as “Divorce by the Judgement of the Court”, will take considerably more time, money and requires several court appearances and representation of a Thai lawyer.
Divorce formally terminates a marriage in Thailand and is the legal ending of a marriage. In Thailand dissolution of a marriage by the judgment of a court can be made on one of the 12 grounds for divorce as listed under section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code.
GROUNDS FOR CONTESTED DIVORCE
- Grounds of action for a contested divorce under the Thai Civil and Commercial Code are as follows:
- The husband has maintained or taken another woman as his wife;
- The wife has been shown to be guilty of committing adultery;
- One spouse is guilty of shaming, insulting, injuring or other misconduct to the other spouse;
- One spouse has seriously harmed or tortured the body or mind of the other spouse;
- One spouse has seriously insulted the other spouse or his/her ascendants;
- One spouse has deserted the other for a period over 1 year;
- One spouse has been imprisoned for a period over 1 year;
- The spouses have voluntarily or involuntarily lived separately for more than 3 years;
- One spouse has disappeared without contact or explanation for more than 3 years;
- One spouse has failed to give proper maintenance or support which causes excessive trouble to the other spouse;
- One spouse has been suffering from untreatable insanity for at least three years;
- One spouse has broken the bond of good behavior;
- One spouse is suffering from an incurable communicable and dangerous disease;
- One spouse has a physical disadvantage and unabke to permanently reside with the other spouse.
PROCEDURES FOR CONTESTED DIVORCE
- Couples who registered their divorce in Thailand may file for contested divorce if: (a) One party has a ground to divorce the other spouse and the latter is unwilling to sever the marriage hence it is contested; (b) There are issues on marital property sharing and child custody, and the issues cannot be settled amicably between the parties. Your lawyer is expected to give you an honest assessment of the strength of the evidence that you will be presenting before the court.
- As a general rule, if a couple did not register their marriage in Thailand they can not file for divorce in Thailand, but may request the Thai courts to assume jurisdiction over their divorce on the basis of important considerations, such as: (a) One party is a Thai national; or (b) One or both parties have resided or worked in Thailand for a considerable period of time.
- The innocent party has the right to lodge the divorce case against the erring spouse. The filing party may be represented by a lawyer when filing the case before the Thai courts and will be called to appear at least once to give his/her testimony against the erring spouse. If The Erring Party Does Not Appear In Court, he/she will be declared in default by the court and will lose his/her right to present evidence against the other party. The court will hear and decide the merits of the case solely on the basis of the active party alone.
- Following the divorce, the Expat must have the divorce decree translated into English and the translated version must ve legalized at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand. The Expat must contact their Embassy/Consulate in Thailand to enquire whether the decree needs to be submitted or reported there. For the Thai divorcee, the decree must be recorded in the amphur nearest to his/her residence. Thai women likewise need to report the divorce and return to the use of their maiden names.
Normally it takes about six months for the court to complete hearing and make judgment for a contested divorce case.
- Regarding marital property and child custody in a divorce case, if nothing has been agreed by the divorcing couple, the court will make decisions based on Thai laws.
- It is Possible To Change From Contested To Uncontested if the filing party or both parties decide to withdraw the contested divorce case anytime after it is filed and have an uncontested divorce instead.
- Choosing a Thai law firm specialising in international law to assist you with your Divorce in Thailand will ensure that the Divorce is recognised internationally to avoid having legal difficulties in the future. If you would like assistance with preparation of a formal prenuptial agreement or with your Divorce in Thailand, please consult TSL.