Filing of Divorce in Thailand

Divorce is a difficult decision for most married couples. It is important that both spouses have the right knowledge to make a decision that is best for them.

Getting an uncontested divorce in Thailand is quite simple when both parties agree to end the marriage. The process is normally completed in one day once the documents are filed at a district office (Khet or Amphoe).

Documents Required

Divorce in Thailand is a complicated procedure. The courts decide on matters of property, custody and spousal maintenance. Spouses who want to divorce can file a petition only on grounds listed in Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code. The court can also assess the validity of prenuptial agreements (if any) between the parties.

One of the alternatives to a contested divorce is an administrative divorce, which is less time consuming. The requirement is that both spouses must attend the district office (khet in Bangkok; amphoe in provinces) personally for the registration of their divorce. They cannot be represented by a family member, lawyer or counsel.

This option is usually availed by couples who can reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce settlement. They must present their marriage certificate, Thai passport and national ID to the officer. It must be shown that they have agreed to sever their marriage and that this decision was taken voluntarily without duress.

Filing the Petition

Divorce by mutual consent can be filed at a district office, provided that the marriage was registered in Thailand and both parties are in agreement to end the relationship. A couple who want to get a divorce on this basis must both present themselves at the same time, show their marriage certificate and passports as well as their house registration certificates (sin somros) and Thai national ID cards.

The couple can also hire a lawyer to file the petition on their behalf. The suit should identify the ground for filing and include the relevant evidence that supports the claim.

A contested divorce is a remedy for those who are in a troubled marriage and need the court’s intervention to put an end to the relationship. The courts can help settle issues such as child custody and property division. However, it can be expensive and time consuming. It is advised to consult an experienced attorney in Thailand for assistance.

Filing the Summons

The general organisation of the court system for civil litigation is a three-tier system namely the Court of Justice, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Thailand is a civil law jurisdiction which means that most legal rights and obligations are codified in various laws such as the Civil and Commercial Code, Penal Code and the Civil Procedure Code. Supreme Court judgments have a persuasive but not binding effect on other courts.

Unlike common law countries, the Thai court system does not utilise juries in trials. The Court of Justice is the court of first instance for civil cases unless the case falls within the scope of jurisdiction of other more specialised courts such as the Central Tax Court, the Labour Court, the Bankruptcy Court or the International Trade Court.

In a civil case, if the person/entity you are suing cannot be found it may be possible to serve them by publishing a notice in a local newspaper. This can be done by filing an application for Order of Publication together with a Declaration of Due Diligence stipulating the efforts you have already made to find them. This must be filed before the hearing date on your summons.

Court Hearing

Thailand is a notice pleading jurisdiction, whereby the claimant must provide the court with details of the facts and allegations forming the basis of their claim, together with a legal basis upon which they intend to rely and the relief sought. A court can, at its discretion or at the request of a party in a case with several claims, disjoin the claims so that each is tried separately.

A judge will decide the outcome of a case based on the evidence presented by each party. Unlike the US, there is no solicitor/barrister distinction in Thailand, and licensed Thai lawyers have rights of audience in all courts.

A judgment obtained in a Thai court can be enforced by attaining a writ of execution for the seizure of property, attachment of claims and other execution measures. However, a foreign judgment attained abroad will not be recognised or taken into consideration by a Thai court unless it is adduced as proof in new proceedings in Thailand.

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