Navigating the family law system in Thailand can be challenging.Eespecially for foreigners who may not be familiar with the laws and procedures. This article aims to provide a basic understanding of family law in Thailand. We focus on marriage registration, parental rights, divorce and adoption. Book V of the Commercial and Civil Code in Thailand (Hereafter CCCT), sections1435-1598 is where you find most of the following. The conflict of law act and some others laws could also be included into family law in Thailand.
1. Marriage Registration Thailand
In Thailand, a legal marriage must be registered with the government to be recognized. A legal marriage in Thailand can be between a Thai and non-Thai national, or between two non-Thai nationals. The process for registering a marriage in Thailand is relatively straightforward but can be time-consuming and complex, particularly for foreigners.
The following is a step-by-step guide on how to go about the process of marriage registration in Thailand:
- If one of the parties is a foreigner, they must verify with their embassy to get a document called “afffirmation to get married in Thailand”. Once you have this document, it must be translated in Thai and legalized by the ministry of foreign affairs. Do note that each embassy can have its own rules. Some will need a previous appointment, some will need specific documents, others might interview your fiancé(e). Contact your embasy.
- If you want a prenuptial agreement, that must be written before you get married and registered at the marriage. Prenuptial agreements are valid in Thailand subjects to the requirements of the law.
- Visit the local district office or the Amphur office (also known as the registration office) where one of the couple resides in person.
- Provide proof of identity, such as a passport, and proof of current marital status, such as a divorce certificate or a death certificate of the former spouse (if applicable). Foreigners will need the affirmation to get married from their embassy, translated in Thai and legalized.
- Provide two witnesses who are at least 15 years old and have a Thai ID card.
- Provide a translator if either party or both are not fluent in Thai.
- Complete and sign the marriage registration form, which will then be read to both parties in Thai and English.
- Pay the marriage registration fee.
Marriage certificate and conditions of marriage
You will normally get the marriage certificate the same day and the process is quick. The marriage certificate is a legal document that proves that a couple is legally married in Thailand. It could be used for obtaining a visa and other legal purposes. We will not talk in this article about Khongman (property given to the fiancée) or Sinsod (property given to the parents of the fiancée). If the marriage does not take place, the male party could claim back the sinsod paid to the family.
It is important to note that in Thailand, the legal age of marriage is at least 17 years old. If a party is under 20 years old, they will need to provide written consent from their parents or legal guardians.
There is currently no laws or disposition allowing same-sex marriage. However, the government has been talking about it for few years.
3. Parental Rights in Thailand
Parental rights in Thailand are governed by the CCCT which covers the rights and obligations of parents towards their children. They include legal custody, physical custody, visitation rights, and child support.
Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing, such as education, healthcare, and religion. Physical custody refers to the right to have the child live with one or both parents. Visitation rights refer to the right to visit or have contact with the child. This can happen even if the child does not live with the parent. Child support refers to the financial support that parents must provide for their child’s upbringing.
a) If the parents are not married
In Thailand, only the mother will have parental rights under section 15446 of the TCCC. There are 3 possibilities for the father to gain parental rights according 1547. He can marry the mother, ask the Court to grant him right or the amphur can register him rights. We suggest to a father that is not married to legitimate his rights by asking the court to do it. The court will normally accepts it. They will refuse only if it is not the best interest of the child. The amphur will refuse to register rights for young children like 5 and younger. So the Court is the only option if a marriage is out of question.
b) If the parents are married
If the couple is married, in Thailand, parental rights are usually given to both parents equally. If there is a reason to believe that giving sole custody is in the best interest of the child the Court can allow it. This means that normally both parents have equal rights. Both can make decisions about their child’s upbringing, and both parents have the right to have the child live with them.
If a couple is divorced or separated, parental rights and responsibilities must be established. This can be done either by agreement or through the court system. If a couple is unable to reach an agreement, a court may decide on the custody. They will also decide of visitation, and child support arrangement based on the best interests of the child. Unless the proof is really strong against a party, the family Court tends to give joint parental powers.
A divorce lawyer in Thailand can help you navigate the complex legal system and ensure that your rights and interests are protected. They can advise you on everything from the grounds for divorce to child custody and alimony, and can help you negotiate a fair settlement with your ex-spouse.
In order to find the right divorce lawyer, it is important to do your research and choose someone with experience and a track record of success. Look for a lawyer who has expertise in Thai family law and who has worked with expats in the past. You should also ask for references and read online reviews before making your final decision.
There are 2 ways to divorce under Thai law:
a) A divorce by mutual consent at the amphur.
Obviously the easiest and fastest way. Your marriage must have been registered in Thailand.Iif not, you might first register your marriage at the amphur or go to the Court.
b) A divorce at the Court
Provided that you have a ground under section 1516 of the CCCT.
Grounds of action for divorce are as follows:
- the husband has given maintenance to or honored such other woman as his wife, or the wife has committed adultery, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
- one spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offence or not, if it causes the other:
- to be seriously ashamed;
- to be insulted of hated or account of continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or
- 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;
- (4/1) 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;
- (4/2) 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;
Other Grounds under Thai Law for Divorcing
5. 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;
6. 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;
7, 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;
8. one spouse has broken a bond of good behavior executed by him or her, the other spouse may enter a claim for divorce;
9. 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;
10. 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.
Burden of proof
The party who wishes to divorce has the burden of proof by balance of probabilities.
c) How will a court act in a divorce case
i)First, they were be a negotiation session in Court. A party can refuse to negotiate but the court do like when parties agree and settle.
ii) If they can’t agree, the Court will verify if the plaintiff has a ground under the law.
iii) if the couple has a a child, the Court will make a decision in the best interest of the child which is normally joint custody.
iv) Lastly, the court will examine the assets of the couple. Each party will keep his personal property (called Sin Suan Tua in Thai). The marital property (Called Sin Somros in that) should be divided equally between the parties.
Rarely, the Court will allow alimony to a party but they will ask support for the child. Example, if the court finds that the best interest of the child is to stay with the mother most of the time, the father will have to pay some support. The amounts are not fixed by law, the court will try the parties to agree and if not, the Court will decide.
If a party commits adultery, the victim party can claim damages from their spouse and the person who committed adultery with the spouse.
In Thailand, alimony is determined by a number of factors, including the length of the marriage, the income and assets of both parties, and their financial needs. The court will also take into account any child support payments that are being made. In reality, alimony is rarely awarded. In most cases, the court will simply divide the common property between the two parties equally.
5. Annulment of a marriage
A marriage can be annulled if there was a mistake about the identity of a party. It could also for fraud, duress, or if the marriage was not performed according to the law (for example, if one of the parties was not of legal age). Only the innocent party can apply for an annulment.
6. Adoption in Thailand
The process of adoption is different for Thai people and foreigners. Foreigners must go through the DSDW (Department of Social Development and Welfare). They are responsible for adoption in Thailand and you can not use the amphur. Adults can also be adopted, but they must meet certain requirements.
Expats should understanding the basic rules and procedures under Family Law in Thailand. It is recommended that individuals seek the guidance of a qualified lawyer specializing in family law in Thailand. They can make you fully understand their legal rights and obligations. This was just a quick summary of family law in Thailand. ThaiLawOnline offer online consultation at reasonable price.