How to File a Contested Divorce in Thailand

Marriage, a union of two different individuals but what happens if it does not work? Divorce. Divorce is the opposite of the word marriage, where two individuals chose to separate and end the title of being a husband and a wife to each other. However, divorce is not just a decision that a married couple can acquire in just a snap. There are to be justifications as to why it shall be approved by the court.

Divorce can be viewed as unethical for some, but for some, it is important for it to exist. All marriage does not end in a happy ever after, some actually end up in a situation that someone would not hope to be in. It is not always loving and caring, what sometimes happens after a marriage needs a call for help and that is where divorce is somehow needed.

In Thailand, there are two types of divorce to which people can choose: (1) Uncontested Divorce (Administrative Divorce) (2) Contested Divorce (Judicial Divorce). If the two are compared from each other, Uncontested Divorce is easier to process whereas Contested Divorce is known to require more time, paper works, trial procedures, therefore, are more costly. In other words, Contested Divorce is the more complicated one to deal with.

Contested Divorce (Judicial Divorce)

This is a Thai court-ordered divorce. As was mentioned, this is a far more difficult divorce than the other. Unlike the Uncontested Divorce where the spouses have an agreement over property division. This is a type of divorce that requires an aggrieved spouse that has a complaint against the other spouse that is included in the grounds to divorce. And a type of divorce that requires a disagreement present between the husband and wife regarding the terms of a divorce.

How to File a Contested Divorce

1. Hire a Lawyer

It is important to hire a lawyer or a law firm with experience in this field and one that you can trust. Hiring a lawyer will help you have more insights into what will happen in the process. They will be able to guide you in the matter that is present. They can help you with the choices and decisions for the case to be more effective and will be able to have smooth sailing as much as possible.

2. Identify Grounds for Divorce

For a Contested Divorce, there is a need for identification of valid reason as to why one is filing such type of divorce. It requires a spouse to be at fault in order for the divorce to be granted. In filing a Contested Divorce, the reason to divorce must be under at least one of these listed grounds:

  • If the partner lives separately or has left home for more than 3 years.
  • If the partner has isolated/deserted the partner for a year.
  • If the partner has taken another partner to be his wife/husband.
  • If the partner has committed adultery.
  • If the partner is guilty of misconduct. This includes criminal offenses that result in physical and psychological harm.
  • If the partner has been sentenced and has been imprisoned for over a year.
  • If the partner is causing serious harm to his/ her partner, physical or psychological. 
  • If the partner has failed or has lacked marital support to the other. Or failed to give proper maintenance to the partner.
  • If the partner has been insane for over 3 years continuously and was not cured.
  • If the partner has broken the bond of good behavior.
  • If the partner suffered from a communicable disease and was not cured.
  • If the partner has a physical disability causing them to be permanently unable to cohabit as husband/wife.

If one has already chosen their grounds for divorce, one must make sure that they can prove and have evidence on the chosen ground. This is unlike Uncontested Divorce where both sides of the party agree to the divorce and do not need these grounds to divorce and do not need any proof for the divorce to proceed.

3. Preparation of Documents and Pleading

Following the identification of the grounds to divorce and the verification of the evidence, the pleading is prepared. All of the claims that the aggrieved spouse wants the court to consider must be stated in the pleading. Aside from the pleading, the following documents must be attached along with the pleading:

  • Copy of their marriage certificate
  • Copy of the Thai National ID for the Thai party
  • Copy of the latest passport for the foreign party
  • Copy of the common children’s birth certificates
  • Evidence proving the chosen ground/s for divorce
  • Copy of the foreign party’s ID with his/her residence or office address
  • Copy of the Tabien Baan (Household Registration Booklet or Blue Book) for the Thai party

4. Payment of Court Fees

Once documents for pleading are prepared, the aggrieved spouse and the lawyer can file the action in the proper Family Court. Before the matter can take place, the court fees must be paid. There are two ways of how the court fees are to be set:

  • If there is an involvement of marital property in the case, the court fees will charge 2% of the entire amount of the claim but the court fees shall not exceed THB 200,000.
  • If there is no involvement of marital property, the court will simply charge THB 1,000.

There is also a fee to be paid in delivery of summons or known as court delivery fee. If the delivery is only to be set within Thailand, the fee will be THB 1,000. But if the delivery is to happen outside the country, they will need to pay THB 5,000.

5. Court Proceeding

Once everything is set the court can proceed to take action in the case which includes summoning of the other party, pre-trial, hearing proper, and the final judgment. One must note that every time a hearing is conducted, the fees will be deducted from the court fee that one paid. Less hearing means less deduction. In case there is a remainder, it will be returned 30 days after the judgment is set.

Divorce does not simply mean breaking up a relationship or breaking a family apart. It means that the family is not in a healthy condition and needs reconsideration or assessment for another chance at life. If one needs experienced professional assistance in this type of situation, do not hesitate to reach out to +66 2 254 8900 or visit Siam Legal.

Get in Contact With Our Family Lawyers in Thailand!

Our family lawyers have years of experience in dealing with contested matters of family law in Thailand. It must be noted that we have provided legal advice to both Thai and international clients, so if you are wondering if a non-Thai national can approach us, then let us tell you that they can! If you are also looking for a family lawyer in Thailand, then please get in contact with us, so that our skilled professionals can look into your matter and come up with strong arguments to fight your case to get your required relief from the Thai courts.