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Divorce Issues for Foreign Couples in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title suggests we are discussing divorce which is not particularly an issue people like discussing. It is sort of like Wills and Estates; it is something people prefer not to think would happen but in some cases it will. 

This video specifically is directed at foreign couples. I want to be clear. We are not talking about couples where one spouse is Thai and one spouse is foreign we are talking about a wholly foreign couple so they may be from two different countries they may be from the same country, but they are not Thai.

The reason I bring this up is because many of the individuals physically present in the Kingdom of Thailand are oftentimes, sometimes unwittingly, in the Kingdom in temporary status. People forget that it specifically states for example on a business Visa, "non-immigrant". On an O marriage visa, well O marriage visa isn't really relevant for this although there could be a derivative of Visa of a marriage visa is non-immigrant. An education Visa is non-immigrant. A tourist visa is what it says; it is a tourist visa and by definition is for a fact non-immigrant. 30-day exemption stamps in the Kingdom is simply an exemption from the visa rules and it is definitely a non-immigrant status. A retirement Visa is a non-immigrant Visa so the individual who has that status in the Kingdom is considered to be temporarily staying in the Kingdom and at law this can be very important because two foreigners in the Kingdom may have some significant hurdles to overcome with respect to getting a Court to take jurisdiction over a divorce here because that Court  may think, may go ahead and take the position that "Look, you are not living here, you did not get married here and you are not Nationals or residents of this country," and for that reason it is kind of the equivalent of something called Forum Non Conveniens or lack of jurisdiction in the United States. They just simply say look we don't want to take jurisdiction over this case and Courts do have the discretion to essentially not take jurisdiction over a matter. To be clear, the Thai court system is not exactly in the business of sort of dodging cases.  That is not really what they are doing. But what I have often found interesting is that people that really understand that individuals are in fact, if they are in non-immigrant status they are exactly what their status says. they are non-immigrants so they are not at law living permanently in the Kingdom and for that reason, I haven't seen it happen often but I have seen situations where our Thai attorneys, I want to be clear I am not a Thai attorney, this is just observational, I have seen situations where our Thai attorneys  have been dealing with cases involving 2 foreigners and frankly the courts are rather hesitant to take those matters on because they have got a docket: they have got other things they have got to deal with and in essence basically the line of logic goes that "Look these people are not really here. They are not here long-term, they are not resident and they are not living here and they are not citizens of this country," and for that reason there are circumstances especially where the individuals in question have only briefly been in the Kingdom where I have seen the Thai Courts basically sort of say. “You need to go back to your home country and deal with this.”  On top of that where the marriage didn't occur in the Kingdom, I have seen otherwise fairly attenuating   cases  involving couples where in fact, their marriage was registered in the Kingdom and under those circumstances oftentimes the Court took the position of “Well, we have got to go ahead and deal with it. We registered the marriage, we definitely have the power and the jurisdiction to go ahead and dissolve it."  But that being said it is not a topic most people like to discuss and unfortunately there are circumstances where it is really cumbersome to use the Thai Courts by foreign couples here in the Kingdom.