By Mr Anonymous
In reference to your article relating to ‘Thai divorce’. Some background. My ‘former’ Thai wife left Thailand and me in June of 2002 for the USA, and as it turned out, with no intention of returning and informed our son that she was seeking the advice of a lawyer about a divorce from me! We had moved to Thailand in October 1998 with the understanding that I would never return to the USA. This was agreeable with the wife until 2 years after arrival. As a ‘Green Card’ holder the Thai wife had to return to the USA every year to retain her residency. The visits were usually for 2-3 months duration but then as each year went by the visits to the USA became considerably longer. Prior to our move to Thailand in 1998 the wife owned and operated a hair salon and being bored in Thailand she decided to use the annual visits to the USA to work as a ‘hair stylist.’
OK! What does this have to do with Thai divorce? I had waited from June 2002 until November 2003 before taking any action regarding a divorce. I had tried to convince the wife, through my son and emails, to return to me in Thailand. Her demands – pure and simple – was ‘greed’. She wanted ‘everything’ I had – MONEY. And, I was not going to give into her demands so ‘she’ decided that she would get a divorce in the USA. During our 35 year marriage I gave her 3 houses (equity), several cars, started her business, made every mortgage payment, bill payment, etc. She ‘paid for nothing’! She had 20 baht when we married!
In November 2002 I retained a Thai lawyer for the purpose of obtaining a divorce from my Thai wife. In response to the lawyers questions – The wife has been in the USA since June 2002 – Do you no where she is? Yes – (‘No you don’t – You do not know where your wife is’). To make a long story short – The Thai lawyer ‘decided’ what my answers would be. On the second visit, all the paperwork was completed and would be filed next week (November 22 – 26) at ‘Her district Ampur (Office)’. His fee, payable in advance – With my prepared ‘retainer agreement’ was 10,000 Baht.
About the 2nd week of December, not receiving any reply from the lawyer, I decided to contact him. ‘Oh, so sorry, the papers have not been filed yet, But I will file them today. (I am thinking – another Scam!). About 2 hours later I get a phone call – ‘I need to come to your house to get your signature’. I sign the papers and the lawyer informs me that the paper will be filed today.
I wait a week – 26 December – and call the lawyer. The lawyer has set a ‘court hearing’ for 9 March 2004. Oh ‘Sh__’ the wife’s Birthday! I told myself – ‘Forget it’ If you change the date now it may be ‘Next year’ before another court hearing.
On March 3rd I call the lawyer to confirm the 9 March date – Oh! Sorry – the court date has been changed to 4 April (the ‘date’ before my Wedding Anniversary – the 5th)! I am beginning to think that I am ‘being cursed’. Or, as previously stated – Scammed.
I decided to ask around the ‘local court’ about this lawyer I have. ‘He is the ‘best’ – from several court employees and other lawyers.
On 29 March I again call my lawyer. Yes – the court hearing is on the 4th of April – But call me on the 3rd.
On 3 April – ‘Lawyer – I will have an ‘interpreter’ with me at the court hearing. I will meet you at the court at 1 PM.
4 April, 1 PM – Where is the lawyer? I Call – I am coming! The lawyer finally shows up. Wait here he tells me. The ‘interpreter’ I learn is a police sergeant major who originally worked in Chiang Mai. He speaks ‘very good’ English – But – as always – ‘I have a business venture that you or your friends might be interested in!’ I am polite – so I listen.
The lawyer finally returns – 3 PM – (I am guessing that he had to find a ‘judge’ that was available and would hear the case). The lawyer proceeds to ‘tell me’ What I will say in front of the judge. Although everything I would eventually say was ‘factual’, many of the time-frames were not accurate or timely. Oh well! I tell myself that when asked I could always say that I ‘misunderstood’ the question.
The court hearing was held at 3:30 PM, 4 April. All the questions that the lawyer asked me, the judge asked again. My answers were not forthcoming in a ‘speedy manner’ But that was OK – The ‘interpreter’ did a great job ‘reading my mind’. An hour later the hearing is over. The lawyer tells me that I will have to wait a week for the judges decision.
I call the lawyer a week later and he has all the court papers and that I can pick them up from him. After picking up the papers I ask the lawyer if there is anything else I need to do. He tells me to take the papers to the ‘District office’ (Ampur) to obtain the ‘Divorce Certificate’. If you have any problem I will talk to them. I give him another 10,000 Baht – Gift.
Off to the Ampur I go. I hand them the court papers – and 15 minutes later I have my ‘Divorce Certificate’ in hand. The ‘former wife’ will get her copy when or if she returns to Thailand. I did email a copy to my son in the USA. I tell the clerk – ‘This has been a very costly 35 year old peace of paper’. What did I give up – The house I built in Thailand (400,000 Baht – Cheap) and a car which she had already sold and I received nothing from the sale.
Stick: The 20,000 Baht that I paid was well worth the money. If I had waited for the ‘wife’ to find a lawyer in the USA and she was to have filed in the USA, it would have cost me ‘my arm and 2 legs’. The lawyer I had was not very efficient But my ‘prodding’ eventually got every moving. Talking with numerous people I did learn that the Lawyer is well respected and is good in front of a judge – He just does not appear to have any ‘business sense’.
Always interesting to hear stories like this.
To he author of this article wishes to remain anonymous.