Guidance on Unilateral Divorce Procedure

Divorce is the termination of husband and wife relationship according to the court’s legally effective judgment or decision. Divorce procedures are prescribed in the Civil Procedure Code, Law on Marriage and Family, Law on Mediation at grassroots… There are two forms of divorce in Vietnam: divorce at the request of one party (unilateral divorce) and divorce by mutual consent.

Divorce-Lawyers-in-VietnamFor divorce at the request of one party, the Court shall handle divorce at the request of spouse if it has grounds to believe that a spouse commits domestic violence or seriously infringes upon the rights and obligations of the husband or wife, which seriously deteriorates the marriage and makes their common life no longer impossible and the marriage purposes unachievable. The goals of a marriage that are not achieved include unequal obligations and rights between husband and wife; no husband and wife friendship; husband and wife do not respect each other’s honor, dignity and reputation; do not respect the right to freedom of belief and each other; do not help, and facilitate each other to develop in all aspects. In addition, a husband has no right to request a divorce when his wife is pregnant, gives birth or is nursing an under-12-month child. This provision limits the husband’s right to request a divorce when the wife is pregnant or is raising children under 12 months of age and if the wife requests divorce, whether she is pregnant or raising children under 12 months of age, the court the court still accepts and resolves like other normal cases.

Documents to file divorce petition?

Documents required for unilateral divorce include: Unilateral divorce application form; Marriage certificate (original copy); Identity card of husband and wife (certified copy); Child’s birth certificate (if there are common children, certified copy); Household registration book (certified copy); Documents proving ownership of common property (if there is common property, certified copy).

In order to proceed with a unilateral divorce, the petitioner needs to file a lawsuit for divorce at the competent court. The Court where the defendant resides and works is competent court to settle according to the first-instance procedure disputes about marriage and family. Therefore, in the case of unilateral divorce, the Court where the competent jurisdiction is located is the place where the defendant resides and works. In case of foreigners being husband or wife, the provincial/municipal courts are competent courts to settle.

What is procedure of divorce petition?

Before accepting the divorce petition, the State and society encourage the mediation at the grassroots level when the husband and wife request the divorce with petition. Mediation is conducted in accordance with the Mediation at grassroots.

After receiving the unilateral divorce petition, the Chief Justice of the Court assigns the Judge to examine the application and relevant papers. In case of necessity, the plaintiff shall notify the applicant of additional papers and necessary information. If the dossier is complete and eligible to accept the case, the Court shall notify the plaintiff of the advance payment of court fees at the Civil Judgment Execution Bureau within 7 days and return it to the Court a receipt of court fee advances. The judge proceeds to accept the case upon receiving the receipt of payment of court fee advances and shall notify the plaintiff, the defendant and the persons with relevant rights and obligations regarding the acceptance of the case within 03 days. The defendant and the persons with relevant rights and obligations within 15 days from the date of receipt of the notice of acceptance have the right to make counter-claims to the plaintiffs’ requests.

After the petition has been accepted, the Court shall conduct conciliation according to the law on civil procedures. The judge assigned to solve the case conducts a meeting to check the handover, access, disclosure of evidence and mediation of divorce between the involved parties and analyze clearly the rights and obligations for the involved parties to reach an agreement on the resolution of the case. In case after mediation the husband and wife reunite, it is considered the plaintiff withdraws the petition, and the Court issues a decision to suspend their request. If they cannot reunite but reach an agreement on the divorce, property division and children custody, after 7 days from the date the Court makes the minutes of the mediation to the parties without changing their mind. The Court shall recognize the divorce agreement and issue a decision recognizing the agreement of the parties. In case of unsuccessful mediation, the Court shall issue a decision to bring the case to trial if it is not in the case of suspension of settlement as prescribed.

How court trial is opened for divorce petition case?

Within 01 month from the day on which the decision to bring the case to trial is issued, the Court must open a trial. In case of good reason, this time limit may be extended but for no more than 2 months. At the end of the trial, the result of unilateral divorce resolution will be decided by the civil judgment. In case of unilateral divorce, the settlement time may be longer, maybe from 04 to 06 months. In fact, due to possible child custody and property disputes, the time to resolve may be longer.

For cases with disputes over assets, apart from the court fee of VND 300,000, the involved parties must also bear court costs for the disputed properties, determined according to the value of the disputed properties according to the provisions.

It is important that the parties need to research and prepare for relevant documents and procedures in their case and consult with lawyers in civil, family and property division, child custody disputes in Vietnam before taking action.

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