Divorce grounds under Thai law
A Thai divorce formally terminate a marriage and is the legal ending of a marriage.
DIVORCE IN THAILAND means the dissolution of a marriage by the judgment of a court on one of the 12 grounds for divorce as listed in Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code or by the Amphur (local municipality office) in Thailand upon a joint request and mutual consent by husband and wife. The Amphur or Amphoe is the district government administrative office (in Bangkok these offices are also called ‘Khet’). The district offices are responsible for marriage registrations and have the authority to again dissolve a marriage in case of a divorce on mutual consent.
Grounds of action for divorce for a judgment of a court are as follows:
- one spouse (husband or wife) has given maintenance to or honored such other person as wife or husband, committed adultery or had regular sexual intercourse with such other person, such other spouse may enter an action for divorce;
- one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offence or not, if it causes the other: (a) to be seriously ashamed; (b) to be insulted of hated or account of continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or (c) to sustain excessive injury or trouble where the condition, position and cohabitation as husband and wife are taken into consideration; the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has caused serious harm or torture to the body or mind of the other, or has seriously insulted the other or his or her ascendants, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has deserted the other for more than one year, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse had been sentenced by a final judgment of the Court and has been imprisoned for more than one year in the offence committed without any participation, consent or in the knowledge of the other, and the cohabitation as husband and wife will cause the other party sustain excessive injury or trouble, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- the husband and wife voluntarily live separately because of being unable to cohabit peacefully for more than three years, or live separately for more than three years by the order of the Court, either spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has been adjudged to have disappeared, or as left his or her domicile or residence for more than three years and being uncertain whether he or she is living or dead;
- one spouse has failed to give proper maintenance and support to the other, or committed acts seriously adverse to the relationship of husband and wife to such an extent that the other has been in excessive trouble where the condition, position and cohabitation as husband and wife are taking into consideration, the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has been an insane person for more than three years continuously and such insanity is hardly curable so that the continuance of marriage cannot be expected, the other may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has broken a bond of good behavior executed by him or her, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse is suffering from a communicable and dangerous disease which is incurable and may cause injury to the other, the latter may file a claim for divorce;
- one spouse has a physical disadvantage so as to be permanently unable to cohabit as husband and wife, the other may enter a claim for divorce.
Divorce in Thailand on mutual consent
The above grounds for divorce do not have to be proven in a divorce on mutual consent by the Amphur District Office. A divorce before the Amphur in Thailand requires agreement to divorce between both spouses and agreement on the division of marital or jointly owned assets, custody of children and, if any, how much alimony will be paid. A prenuptial agreement could be helpful in negotiating a settlement as the prenuptial states the parties intentions in the event of a divorce at the time of marriage.
If no agreeable solution can be found on these matter between the parties each party can file a petition (only on the grounds given in the Civil and Commercial Code) for the dissolution of the marriage by the court and the court will decide for them on these matters according to Thai law and individual circumstances. If a prenuptial agreement has been made the court will assess the validity and enforceability of its content.
Section 1465 Civil and Commercial Code: 'Any clause in the prenuptial agreement contrary to public order or good morals, or provided that the relations between them as regards such properties are to be governed by foreign law shall be void' - read more...
If both parties agree on the terms of the divorce (mutual consent) the procedure at the local Amphur will be shorter, less expensive and less time consuming. No direct Thai lawyer representation is required, but a divorce settlement agreement could be pre-drawn up, but not necessarily. Parties must agree on all types of potential issues such as division of properties, spousal maintenance and child custody. It is not required that the parties request a divorce at the same location where the marriage is registered, but both husband and wife must be personally present when filing for a divorce on mutual consent at the Amphur.
A contested divorce, i.e. dissolution of the marriage by the judgment of the court in Thailand, will take considerably more time, money and requires several court appearances and representation of a Thai lawyer.