How do we go about it?
For any couple married in Thailand (officially married, with a certificate) getting divorced is relatively simple provided both parties agree on the terms. It’s just a matter of going together to any district office and filing for divorce.
The documents required are minimal: the marriage certificate and both ID cards (or passports, in case of foreigners). There are three district offices in Phuket: Muang in Phuket Town, Thalang, and Kathu.
Don’t file for divorce on Valentine’s Day – let’s face it, that would be in bad taste and some officials may tell you to come back on another day.
What’s the process?
The district officer will ask questions concerning the family’s future, particularly the futures of any children, and how any belongings are to be split. If the couple have already drawn up an agreement on these points, the process goes a lot faster.
The officer will then ask the couple to fill out a form for both to sign. The divorce document will be then be witnessed by two people (who may be friends, or drawn from other staff in the office). The couple will then each get a copy of the divorce paper. That’s it.
What about the wife’s name?
The wife may choose to keep her husband’s surname (as long as the ex-husband agrees) and remain “Mrs”, or she can revert to her maiden name and “Miss”. This, too, can be done in the district office.
Note that women are no longer obliged to take their husband’s name when marrying in Thailand, so this may not be an issue anyway.
What if my partner doesn’t want to divorce?
Things now get more complex. It’s possible, but you must establish legal grounds for taking this step. A request to divorce must be filed with the Family Court. Grounds for divorce are:
• Proven adultery.
- Criminal misconduct.
- Physical or mental torture.
- Desertion for more than one year.
- Separation for at least three years.
- Disappearance of the partner for at least three years.
- Lack of support or landing the other party in trouble (generally financial).
- Incurable insanity for at least three years.
- Breaking a legal bond of good behaviour.
- Incurable disease that may medically affect the partner.
- Permanent physical disability that precludes having sex.
How is the money split?
Generally, when a couple divorce in Thailand all their joint property (sin somros) will be divided equally, unless there is a pre-nuptial agreement defining allocation of property, or the two partners can come to an agreement on the split before going through with the divorce. This agreement should be committed to paper, preferably with the help of lawyer.
Joint property is defined as anything acquired during the course of the marriage by way of gift, purchase or inheritance.
Personal property, defined as anything acquired before the marriage, will. Not be part of the deal. You get to keep it all.
What about our children?
Unless there is already an agreement in writing, the court generally gives priority to the mother, though not necessarily. The court may also decide on the amounts payable for child support or alimony.
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