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What happens if I get divorced?
Dear Emma,
I married a Thai woman a few years ago and things have not turned out. She has not cheated me in any way and she is not cheating on me. In fact things are rather amicable but we simply are not compatible. She is a nice enough woman but has little interests in life outside her soap operas and gossiping with the neighbors. We aren’t arguing as she doesn’t even seem to care enough about me or our marriage to even say anything other than what is on her soaps. So, I am bored witless stuck with a woman that is more like a live in maid than a wife.
I am currently on a marriage visa, I get one year at Immigration. What would happen if we were to divorce before the one year was up? Can I just wait for the next renewal or do I need to leave the country?
Also, we rent the house we live in, I was never that keen on the idea of buying a house, it all seems rather dodgy so I thought I would rent for a while and learn more about the system. The more I learned the less I wanted to own. So, to make a long story short, I don’t have to worry about too many assets in Thailand, just the car and the motorbike which she can have.
Do I have to worry about alimony too? I don’t mind helping her out for the first few months or a year but I don’t want to support her for the rest of her life, she can go get a job, she had one when we met and even though I encouraged her to keep it she quit.
Thanks for any advice you can offer Emma, or any other readers. I am ready to get out!
Soon to be divorced.

Dear Divorced,
First let me offer you my sympathies for your upcoming divorce. Even if things are ending amicably its always sad and difficult to see what you thought would be a permanent relationship come to an end.
As for the visa, as soon as you do get divorced you will need a new visa. You should probably consider going out of the country and getting a new visa before the divorce occurs. The one year extension is no longer valid as soon as you get divorced and you can get a 7 day extension at Immigration. But it seems to Emma that it would be easier to me to just get a new visa. You will need to decide if you plan on remaining in Thailand long term and if so, what kind of visa you will ultimately need to get.
Thailand does not really have alimony, she would be entitled to half of all assets acquired during your marriage but not to anything you owned before. So, she is entitled to only half the car and half the motorbike but the reverse is also true. So are you also entitled to half the car and half the motorbike.
Even though you say its ending amicably you never know what the gossiping neighbours might convince her of farther on down the road so you may want to see a lawyer and get an agreement written up before you go to the District Office to file the divorce papers.
Emma herself has never been divorced but a few friends have and when asked said, to a man, to get the agreement drawn up first before going for the divorce. They also said that it is quite a straightforward process once things have been decided upon.
Best of luck.

Bought my girlfriend a car
Dear Emma,
I bought my girlfriend a car after she was in an accident on her motorbike. She wasn’t badly hurt but it could have been far worse, she was quite lucky. I bought her a good quality second hand car (there seem to be quite a few nearly new cars on sale now!) but she almost never drives it. She does know how to drive, or at least that is what she told me, but she rarely does. I don’t mind to spend that money on her as I think it will save her life some day, the roads here are quite dangerous! But she only drives it maybe once a week; sometimes less. Even in the rainy season it remained parked more often than not.
I have asked her why she doesn’t drive and she shrugged her shoulders and said the motorbike was easier! I don’t understand this reasoning. Can you explain to me why she doesn’t drive the car?

Dear Flummoed,
Well, I assume she has a job, could it be she finds the petrol expensive? Many people have cars but cannot afford to keep them running. Add in maintenance and it may be more expense than she can really afford. You do not mention that you are helping her with the expenses. One does not like to look a gift horse in the mouth but the gift horse should perhaps consider the effect of the gift on the recipient first!
If she can afford the petrol, insurance and maintenance then it may be that she does just find it easier. The city streets are often clogged, parking is often difficult to find and if she is unused to driving may find the crowded roads and small narrow streets a bit stressful. There are times of day when if one is in town, the motorbike simply is much easier.
Finally, did she actually want the car or did you push it on her? Thai people have great difficulty in saying no and she may have tried to tell you she did not want the car but you overrode her wishes. Many westerners would then say no more forcefully but most Thais will acquiesce to keep the peace and then simply do want they wanted to do in the first place.
Your gift is quite generous and your motives not only admirable but correct. However, as the old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.”