More often than not divorce occurs in Thailand with expat residents. This is usually a costly affair as the property laws in Thailand make it very difficult to own land or a freehold house in the country. Those who did not take proper legal advice normally have the most problems as they did not ensure that there was a safety mechanism for the property in the event of a divorce.
Divorce in Thailand
Safety measure can be in the form of a usufruct in Thailand or other legal arrangements in the event of a divorce. You will need to take legal advice in this regard. If you are able to come to an agreement with your Thai wife then the divorce will normally not be as costly. Most litigation in Thailand however tends to be for child custody. Divorce litigation in Thailand could run for more than a year as the Family Court in Thailand is very busy mainly with local Thai litigation.
There are two types of divorces in Thailand. The first is by agreement and the other is by litigation. The divorce by agreement can be done in a day as it does not need to go to court. There needs to be a divorce agreement and this needs to be handed in at the local Amphurs Office in Thailand where (normally) you got married. You will need to ensure that this agreement is done correctly. Speak to a family lawyer in Thailand for sound advice on this.
Divorce Agreement: Alimony payments, child custody, property settlement and other settlements.
The process is straightforward and as long as you are in full agreement this matter can be settled at very low cost and also very fast. If you are travelling home then child custody can become an issue. Note that taking your child out of the country or not returning the child as agreed may be viewed as child kidnapping.
For both divorce types you will need to have a reason for the divorce and the laws in Thailand stipulate which can be used. Normally there is more than one reason or this. Note that if you do not respond to the summons when served you may lose your property in Thailand by not defending it and may also be sued later for damages if you had been blamed for the divorce.
Grounds for Divorce in Thailand:
The grounds for divorce in Thailand can be that one of you had committed adultery, been embarrassed by the others behaviour or have been tortured mentally or physically. The Civil and Commercial Code in Thailand laws out these reasons. One party could also have left the other for more than a year and this includes a prison sentence. You might not have lived together for at least 3 years as husband and wife or one of you has been declared insane by the courts. Note also that if one has an incurable illness then this can also be used as a reason for the divorce.
Always speak to a lawyer in Thailand when considering a divorce.