Many of Joe Lizzerd’s clients come to Pattaya to ‘start a new life’, which often involves getting a divorce and undergoing the proper procedure and legal arrangements to marry. Below we summarize what you need to know in order to successfully undertake these changes.
Foreign nationals need to present a certain amount of documentation before they can marry in Thailand. This includes an original passport and two photocopies. This should include a copy of your entry visa to the country. Each person should complete the affirmation of freedom to marry, which is then authenticated and translated if necessary. Any translations should be certified.
The originals and a photocopy of each one are needed. If either of the couple has been married before they will also need to present divorce or death certificates to prove that they are free to marry.
The minimum age for marriage in Thailand is 17, although if you are below the age of 20 then you will need written consent from your parents. If the consent is written in English it must be translated into Thai. If you are widowed or divorced then you must wait at least 310 days before marrying another person. If you are not a resident in Thailand there is no restriction on being able to marry there, but you will need to be sure that you have all the correct paperwork in place before you do.
A marriage must be registered at the district office in your area of Thailand in order for it to be recognized by law. Religious ceremonies are not considered to be official in Thailand and are used only as blessings. In addition there is no such thing as a same-sex marriage in Thailand.
Those who are Thai nationals will need to present their identification card and a photocopy as well as their house registration document and a photocopy.
The affirmation of the freedom to marry has several steps to the process. A foreign-born national needs to contact their home embassy and make the application to them in person. They will need to take along a passport as proof of ID and will need to provide evidence that any previous marriage has been dissolved.
The affirmation will then need to be translated into Thai. It will need to be certified at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A marriage license cannot be issued without the affirmation of freedom to marry.
It is part of the culture in Thailand that if a man wishes to marry a Thai woman he must pay a dowry to her family. This is a custom that is dying out but some families may still expect it. This can be a cash payment or in the form of gifts.
The couple should attend the district office to register the marriage and there is no formal ceremony. A translator can be provided if needed. An appointment is not necessary and you may find yourself waiting in a queue. It is possible to arrange for a registrar to see the couple at another location to register the marriage but the couple is responsible for paying transportation fees for the registrar.
Each of the couple receives a copy of the marriage certificate. If you should need another copy of the marriage certificate at any time it is necessary to go to the original office that issued the certificate and make the request in person. Proof of ID will be needed.
If you want to get a divorce in Thailand there are two different types. The first is a contested divorce, which can be time-consuming and costly. Uncontested divorces are quick and cheap and may also be referred to as an administrative divorce. There are no grounds required for an administrative divorce but both parties need to agree to the divorce. Both parties must be present for the divorce to be granted and this can be done at the local district office.
Most Thai couples opt for this type of divorce and most will reach agreements without the assistance of a lawyer. Foreign couples who opt for this type of divorce should check first that this will be acceptable in their home country, as it is not automatically recognized by all countries.
A contested divorce will need to be heard before a court and grounds for divorce will be needed. If there are disagreements on division of property or custody of children then this is also considered to be a contested divorce.