Thailand Family Law

Family Disputes

Family disputes are inherently complex and emotionally charged, often unfolding without any semblance of predictability or adherence to rules. Yet, when these personal conflicts escalate into legal matters, seeking a legal resolution becomes essential. Thailand's legal framework is notably diverse, drawing heavily on the European civil law tradition, with significant influence from the civil law system of France. This system is meticulously codified within Thailand's Civil and Commercial Code.

Within the scope of family disputes, the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand provides comprehensive coverage. It encompasses a wide array of family law issues, including civil unions, marriage, legal separations, both contested and uncontested divorces, administrative divorce procedures, domestic and international adoptions, parental custody battles, among others. This broad legal foundation ensures that all aspects of family law are addressed under Thai law, offering a structured pathway to resolution for these deeply personal and often painful disputes.

At Juslaws & Consult, our family law department offers legal services in Thai Family Law, and specialize in the following issues:

  • Marriage  Registration in Thailand
  • Divorce in Thailand
  • Child Custody Law
  • Adoption
  • Pre-Marital / Prenuptial Agreements
  • Wills / Estate Administration

At Juslaws & Consult, our extensive engagement with a diverse international clientele has endowed us with a profound understanding and expertise in family law matters. Our approach is consistently aimed at resolving disputes in a manner that is both conciliatory and cost-effective, ensuring the best possible outcomes for our clients.

We offer comprehensive advice on all facets of Thai family law. Our expertise extends to the meticulous drafting of alimony claims and the adept handling of custody disputes, among other family law issues. Our vast experience in these areas allows us to provide tailored, strategic guidance to meet the unique needs of our clients, ensuring that their interests are protected and their legal challenges are addressed with the highest degree of professionalism and care. Here are some examples of our recent achievements in this field:

  • Handling a prenuptial agreement, marriage, and divorce of an American citizen residing in Thailand
  • Successfully representing a British citizen in a divorce case and obtaining 100% custody for children
  • Successfully representing an American citizen in a divorce case and obtaining 100% custody
  • Successfully representing a foreign national and obtaining 100% custody of a child whose parents passed away. This was the first case of this nature won in the history of Thailand.
  • Successfully representing a Taiwanese citizen to get a divorce and litigate against a Filipino citizen who was previously married in Philippines.
  • Successfully representing a British citizen in obtaining 100% custody of two children
  • Successfully representing a Thai citizen to obtain a divorce of a Korean citizen and get 100% custody
  • Successfully arranging a Prenuptial Agreement and assisting with the registration of marriage of a Spanish and a Thai citizen

Marriage Registration in Thailand

The process of registering a marriage in Thailand, whether between Thai citizens or between a foreigner and a Thai citizen, is designed to be straightforward. Nevertheless, it's imperative to be acquainted with the specific requirements set forth by the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand to ensure a seamless registration process.
To successfully register a marriage in Thailand or with a Thai citizen, the involved parties must meet the following criteria as outlined in the Civil and Commercial Code:

  • According to Section 1448, a marriage can only take place when both parties reach the age of 17 years. However, the Thailand court will allow a minor to marry, with appropriate reason and consent from the minor's parents, legal guardians, or person exercising parental power.
  • Both parties must have healthy and sane mental health.
  • Both parties must consent to the marriage.

Here are the basic documents required for a foreigner who wishes to register their marriage with a Thai or foreign citizen or  in Thailand:

  • Original passport
  • Single Status Certificate obtained from the Embassy or Consulate of the country of origin in Thailand. This document basically states that the foreigner is single and is free to get legally married.
  • A certified true copy of the foreigner's passport verified by from the Embassy, Consulate, or a Thai Notary Public
  • Divorce Certificate or Death Certificate (if the applicant was previously married)

For a Thai citizen, the required documents they need to present to register marriage in Thailand are as follows:

  • Thai National ID Card
  • House Registration (Tabian Baan)
  • Certificate of Name Change (If any)
  • Court Divorce Order or Death Certificate (if the applicant was previously married)

Note: District Offices in Thailand reserve the right to request further documents to support the marriage registration (case-by-case basis or depending on the nationality of the foreigner).

Marriage Registration With a Thai Citizen Abroad

When a foreign national intends to marry a Thai citizen outside of Thailand and seeks to have the marriage recognized under Thai law, Section 1459 provides clear guidance on how this can be achieved. This section specifies that a marriage abroad between Thai nationals or between a Thai national and a foreigner can be conducted in accordance with the legal formalities of either Thai law or the laws of the country where the marriage occurs. Should the couple wish to register their marriage according to Thai law, such registration must be carried out through a Thai Diplomatic or Consular Officer.

This provision ensures that Thai nationals have the flexibility to marry abroad while still having the option to officially recognize their marriage in Thailand. For those opting for registration under Thai law, it is essential to engage with the relevant Thai diplomatic or consular authorities in the foreign country to complete the necessary procedures. This approach facilitates the legal recognition of the marriage both internationally and in Thailand, adhering to the established legal framework.

Divorce Registration in Thailand

Marriage, contrary to the often portrayed fairytale narratives, is not devoid of challenges. While some individuals are fortunate enough to find their true companions, others may not be as lucky. The dissolution of a relationship can stem from various factors, including but not limited to, long periods of separation, familial issues, cultural differences, personality clashes, career ambitions, or other private matters between spouses. It's important to note that these issues might not have any legal implications if the marriage has not been formally registered.

At Juslaws & Consult, we want to ensure that you are informed about the divorce laws in Thailand, which recognize two main types of divorce: Contested and Uncontested Divorce. An Uncontested Divorce, also referred to as an Administrative Divorce, is typically a simpler and faster process, suitable for couples who mutually agree to dissolve their marriage. On the other hand, a Contested Divorce involves a more complex court procedure and necessitates valid grounds as per Thai law for the marriage to be legally terminated.

A) Uncontested Divorce

Divorce by mutual consent, also known as an uncontested divorce or administrative divorce process, is a method provided for under Section 1514 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand. This section specifies that "Divorce may be effected only by mutual consent or by the judgment of the Court. The divorce affected by mutual consent must be made in writing and certified by the signatures of at least two witnesses." This procedure is suitable for spouses who jointly decide to dissolve their marriage.

To pursue this route, the involved parties must draft a written Divorce Agreement articulating their mutual decision to divorce. This agreement requires the endorsement of at least two witnesses to validate its authenticity. Following the creation and signing of the agreement, both parties are required to formally register the divorce at the local district office. It is imperative for both parties to be physically present at the time of registration; the process cannot be completed online or electronically, as stipulated under the Electronic Transaction Act B.E. 2549 (2006), Section 3.

B) Contested Divorce

Divorce by Court Judgment (Contested Divorce) - In instances where divorce proceeds through court judgment, one spouse must initiate the process by filing a lawsuit in court and presenting reasons for the divorce that align with the grounds listed in Section 1516 of the Civil and Commercial Code. This method is pursued when the parties cannot reach a mutual agreement on the termination of their marriage, necessitating judicial intervention to resolve the dispute.

Grounds for Divorce by Court Judgment

As mentioned above, in order to dissolve a marriage through the Thai court, one of the spouses must file a Divorce Case under one or more grounds as follows:

1. One spouse has given maintenance to or honored another person as wife or husband, committed adultery or had regular sexual intercourse with such other person; the other spouse may enter an action for divorce.

2. One spouse is guilty of misconduct, notwithstanding whether such misconduct is a criminal offense or not, if it causes the other: a) to be seriously ashamed; b) to be insulted of hated or account of the continuance of being husband or wife of the spouse having committed the misconduct; or c) 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.

3. 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.

4. One spouse has deserted the other for more than one year; the latter may enter a claim for divorce.
a) One spouse had been sentenced by a final judgment of the Court and has been imprisoned for more than one year in the offense committed without any participation, consent, or in the knowledge of the other, and the cohabitation as husband and wife will cause the other party to sustain excessive injury or trouble; the latter may enter a claim for divorce;
b) 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.

5. One spouse has been adjudged to have disappeared or has left his or her domicile or residence for more than three years and is 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 spouse may enter a claim for divorce.

8. One spouse has broken a bond of good behavior previously 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 that 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 otherspouse may enter a claim for divorce.

Child Custody

For many families, welcoming a child represents the fulfillment of a deeply held dream. However, not all journeys conclude with a fairy-tale ending. This reality underpins the necessity for child custody laws, enacted by the Thailand Family Courts to safeguard the interests and well-being of children. From the moment of birth, the joint custody of a legitimate child is vested in its biological parents, granting them parental authority over their offspring.

The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand outlines the scope of this parental authority, specifying that a minor remains under parental guardianship until reaching the age of majority. This legal framework ensures that the rights and welfare of the child are paramount, prioritizing their best interests in situations where parental care and guidance are essential.

However, the parental power will be exercised solely by the father or the mother when:

1. The other parent passes away.

2. It is uncertain whether the other parent is living or dead.

3. The other parent has been adjudged as an incompetent person.

4. The other parent is placed in a hospital by reason of mental infirmity.

5. The parental power has been granted to only one of the parents by an order of the court.

6. Both parents have come to a valid legal agreement for sole custody.

In the case of an order from the Court regarding child custody, that a parent be subjected to sole custody, the Court will consider the welfare and the benefits of the child.

In instances of divorce involving children, child custody becomes a crucial matter to resolve. When a divorce is amicable, achieved through mutual consent, the spouses are required to draft a written agreement detailing the exercise of parental authority over their children. This agreement, whether termed a Divorce Agreement or Settlement Agreement, outlines the arrangements for child custody and support. Specifically, the parent not granted sole custody agrees to provide financial support to the custodial parent.

Should the divorce settlement fail to address child custody, the responsibility falls to the court to make a determination. Similarly, in divorces adjudicated by the court, it is the court’s role to decide matters of parental authority over the child.In navigating child custody or divorce cases, it is imperative for a lawyer to thoroughly understand the nuances of each case, developing a strategic approach to ensure the client’s interests are paramount in court deliberations. This holds true regardless of the client’s nationality. At Juslaws & Consult, our lawyers possess extensive experience in handling child custody cases, including those involving foreign nationals as parents. Our deep understanding and years of expertise empower us to secure the most favorable outcomes for our clients.

Child Adoption

Adopting a child in Thailand is recognized as a notably intricate procedure that entails the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from the child's biological parents to the adoptive parents. The Child Adoption Center of the Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) is the designated Thai government agency responsible for overseeing all adoption processes.

Thai family law distinguishes between two categories of adoption: domestic and inter-country. Domestic adoptions are permissible for prospective parents residing within Thailand. Conversely, inter-country adoptions cater to foreign nationals who aspire to adopt a Thai child with the intention of raising them outside Thailand. According to Thai legal requirements, an individual seeking to adopt must meet specific criteria, including being part of a couple where at least one spouse is a minimum of 25 years old and the couple is at least 15 years older than the adoptive child. This stipulation regarding spousal age does not apply to Thai applicants.

Adoption in Thailand for Foreigners

Foreign applicants must comply with the adoption criteria mandated by their home country, which must maintain diplomatic relations with Thailand. They can initiate the adoption process through an accredited agency in their home country, which in turn can forward the application documents to the DSDW or to one of four authorized non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These NGOs, permitted to facilitate the direct placement of Thai children with international adoptive parents, include the Thai Red Cross, Holt Sahathai Foundation, Friends for All Children Foundation, and the Pattaya Orphanage in Chonburi.

Foreign residents in Thailand, equipped with proof of residency and house registration, can apply for adoption locally within their residential area. In Bangkok, applications are made at the Child Adoption Center of the DSDW, while in other provinces, submissions are directed to the provincial DSDW office. Temporary foreign residents with a work permit from the Labor Department are also eligible to apply, provided they have lived in Thailand for at least six months prior to the application and can fulfill a six-month pre-adoption residency requirement. Applications, along with requisite documents certified by the applicant's embassy in Thailand, should be submitted to the DSDW.

Pre-Marital / Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement in Thailand is a contractual arrangement designed to protect individual assets acquired before marriage and shield each spouse from pre-marital debts. According to Section 1465 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand, in the absence of such an agreement, marital property relations default to standard legal provisions. Clauses in a prenuptial agreement that contravene public order, morality, or stipulate foreign law governance are nullified.

This agreement, which also may cover child and spousal support post-divorce, must be signed by both parties with two witnesses and registered concurrently with the marriage. Failure to register renders the agreement invalid. It serves to safeguard the interests of dependents, including children from previous relationships or parents, by specifying the distribution of personal property. However, it does not apply to assets acquired jointly post-marriage.A well-drafted prenuptial agreement facilitates a smoother division of assets and reduces emotional and financial strain during divorce proceedings by preemptively addressing maintenance and property distribution.


The Family Law Practice at Juslaws & Consult offers experienced guidance on all facets of marriage and divorce, including the drafting of premarital or prenuptial agreements. Our legal experts bring a wealth of experience in formulating these contracts, ensuring they meet Thailand's legal requirements while also considering their validity abroad. Consulting with a divorce or family lawyer in Thailand, who is knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to premarital or prenuptial agreements both in Thailand and the client’s home country, is crucial. The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand outlines specific stipulations that must be incorporated into a premarital or prenuptial agreement. We invite you to reach out to us for assistance in navigating these complexities.

See also:

Breaking stereotypes: How foreign fathers can secure sole custody with Thai courts

Navigating Guardianship in Thailand: A Guide to Becoming a Legal Guardian for a Thai Child

Divorce and Custody: A British expat's journey to justice in Thailand