A Contested Divorce is another option for couples whose marriage had been registered in Thailand but have decided to end their marriages permanently and legally. This form of divorce entails significant financial as well as emotional expenditures from all involved parties.
Financial because the involved parties need to have their own lawyers to guide them through the legal process and laws of Thailand. Aside from that, this type of divorce needs the decision of the court and this also means court fees have to be paid too. Furthermore, expenses like transportation and the like also exist especially that Contested Divorces cannot be resolve on one hearing alone unless of course on the first hearing, both parties reached an agreement to settle their differences through Uncontested Divorce.
There are two reasons why a termination of marriage in Thailand needs to be done through a Contested Divorce and these are:
- A party has a valid reason to terminate his/her marriage but the other party is not willing to end such marriage.
- If amicable settlement of issues such as on properties and or the custody of children is not possible.
What if the divorcing couple’s marriage is not registered in Thailand?
On general sense, only couples whose marriages are registered in Thailand can avail of this option to terminate their marriage. However, couples whose marriage are not registered in the Kingdom may file for and request the Thai courts to take hold and assume jurisdiction of such divorce basing on the following concrete reasons:
- One party is a Thai national.
- One party or both parties have been working and residing in Thailand for a certain length of time.
What are the basis for a Contested Divorce in Thailand?
Basing on the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand, one party cannot simply file for divorce if there is no solid reason to do so and such ground for divorce could be one or more of the following:
- The husband has another woman as his wife when his marriage with another is not yet legally terminated.
- The wife has committed adulterous acts.
- A party’s guilt is established to have done a misconduct.
- A party has cause grave bodily or emotional harm on the other party.
- A party has gravely insulted the other party or his/her ascendants.
- A party has deserted the other for not less than a year.
- A party has been sent to prison for not less than a year.
- Both parties have a mutual decision to live apart from one another for not less than three years.
- The involved parties lived apart for not less than three years.
- A party has left the marital abode for not less than three years.
- A failure of one party in providing maintenance or support to the other party.
- A party has been suffering from mental illness for not less than three years.
- A party broke the bond of good behavior.
- A party is a carrier or is suffering from serious and communicable disease.
- A party has a physical disadvantage.
Who Can file for a Contested Divorce?
It is the party who has been caused with undue injury by the other to have the right to file for a divorce case.
Should the filing party personally file the case?
Not really as the injured party may be represented by a qualified lawyer when he/she files for a divorce case with a Thai court.
Once the case has been filed, can the filing party still be represented by a lawyer?
After the case has been filed, the filing party has to appear and give his/her testimony against the erring party before the court and this should be done at least once through the course of the case.
What will happen incase the erring party fails to appear before the court?
If and when the erring party fails to appear before the court, he or she will be declared in default by the court. If declared in default by the court then the erring party loses his chance and right to present his/her own set of evidences against the party who filed the divorce case. By then, the court will only consider the merits of the case on the arguments and evidences submitted by the filing party before the court.
How should the filing party make sure that his/her reason/s in filing the case is based on the above-mentioned grounds for a Contested Divorce?
It is the responsibility of the filing party to be truthful on his/her reasons in filing for divorce against his/her spouse. These grounds would be evaluated by the his/her lawyer whether these would hold water once the case has been filed and once the hearing starts.
How long can it take before a decision from the court can be expected?
On average, the court takes six months to finish a contested divorce.
What about the marital properties?
On matters pertaining to child custody and or sharing of marital properties, the court would respect any agreement that the involved parties may arrive into and such will be included on its decision. However, if both parties has failed to do so, the court shall base its decision on these issues on the applicable laws of Thailand.
What will happen next if the court favors for a divorce petition to be granted?
If one party is a foreign national, his/her actions should not stop with receiving the divorce decree alone. He/she has to have the decree translated to English and then have it notarized (legalized) with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Afterwards, he/she has to confirm with his/her Embassy or Consulate whether the notarized decree needs to be registered or reported in the said office or not.
On the other hand, the Thai national needs to register the divorce at the registrar’s office (amphur) nearest to his/her place of residence. Furthermore, if the Thai national is a Thai woman, she needs to re-adopt and re-use her maiden name including on her legal documents such as passport and National ID.
Can a filed Contested Divorce case be changed to an Uncontested Divorce?
After being filed or even of the case is already ongoing but before a decision from the court has been reached, the filing party or both parties can still elect to have the case withdrawn and take the avenue of an uncontested divorce instead.