Is a Thailand Divorce Valid in the UK?

by Admin on July 11, 2023

Many people have legitimate concerns about whether their foreign divorce will be legally accepted in their home country.  In general, the legal principle of Comity allows countries to accept lawful judgements from other countries, provided that they meet basic standards of due process and fairness.   Certain Sharia law divorce decisions, where religious Islamic courts use a different set of standards than non-Muslim countries,  may be less likely to be accepted by countries that do not follow Islam.

However the United Kingdom has,  in the past, stood out as having stricter requirements for a foreign divorce to be valid than other nations.  Since British expats are a large group in Thailand, the question of the validity of a Thailand divorce in the UKhas been raised frequently.

The current UK law has different requirements for lawful foreign divorces obtained by means of a “proceeding” and those obtained by means other than a “proceeding.”

“Proceeding” normally means a court hearing or review.  For divorces outside of the UK that are obtained  by means of a proceeding, requirements are more lenient, and only require that one spouse be either habitually resident, domiciled, or be a national of the country where the divorce was obtained.

However, for divorces that were obtained by a method other than  a “proceeding”, the UK law requires that both spouses be domiciled in the foreign country,or, at minimum, that one spouse be domiciled in the foreign country, and that the other spouse not be domiciled in the UK. The UK law may therefore, possibly, create problems for some UK persons wanting an administrative divorce at the Thailand District Office if neither spouse is a Thai national, and both spouses also do not reside in the UK.

Most couple divorcing in Thailand usually either reside in Thailand, or at least one of the spouses is a Thai national.  Therefore, there is usually no problem.

The specific rules can be found in the Family Law Act 1986, Section 46. 

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