The short answer is YES. Divorce is defined as the "termination of the husband and wife relation under a court's legally effective judgment or decision.” It is no taboo in Saigon and this society, especially if the marriage is between expats or Vietnamese Americans.

Both parties have the right to request a court to settle their divorce. Other people who can request for a divorce are parents or other next of kin of a spouse has the right to request a court to settle a divorce if/when the spouse is unable to perceive and control his/her acts due to a mental disease or another disease, and is concurrently a victim of domestic violence caused by his/her spouse which brings serious harm to his/her life, health or spirit.

Note: A husband has no right to request a divorce when his wife is pregnant, gives birth or is nursing an under-12-month child. 

Application for Divorce: if two people agree to get divorced, the divorce application must be certified by the local government or Vietnamese embassies abroad. (Note: If two parties agree to get divorced, they have to agree on three issues: divorce, child custody and division of common property, if any. If no agreement can be reached, the Court will settle the divorce.)

What documents will I need to provide for the divorce application?

Divorce Petition Form

The original marriage certificate (if any): in case the original certificate is lost, a replacement of the copies certified by the competent government authorities is acceptable, but must be articulated in the application.

Copy of birth certificate of your children

Copies of documents of asset ownership (if case of property disputes)

Copy of ID (passport), permanent residence book (notarised copy) of the two parties

Application of the foreign party to be absent in the whole process of divorce settlement in Vietnam, has been consular legalised (if any).

The Jurisdiction is the District court where the defendant resides. In case the two parties were married in Vietnam, and one party went abroad (address unknown), it must be certified by the local government that the abroad party’s name has to be deleted from the permanent residence book.

If the two parties register their marriage according to foreign law and get a divorce in Vietnam, they must have their marriage registration consular legalised and finish the procedures of noting on the registration book at the Department of Justice before applying for the divorce. In case the parties cannot conduct noting but still want a divorce, then the divorce application must clearly note the reason why they cannot.

Note: the papers of foreign agencies must be legalised in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law.

How long does the divorce procedure take in Vietnam?

The trial preparation time is four to six months from the date of case acceptance. Trial open duration: One or two months from the date of the decision to bring the case to trial. However, the resolution also depends on the cooperation of the parties and the content of the dispute.

What is the procedure for divorce in Vietnam?

The procedure may vary depending on cases (if it’s a marriage between an expat and a Vietnamese or between two expats, if two parties are still residing in Vietnam or not, etc.), but in general it will be as follows:

››Step 1: Submit lawsuit application for divorce to the People’s Court of the province or centrally-run city where one party is residing to settle your case (you can direct file at the Court or send documents to the Court by post);

››Step 2: After receiving the application and valid dossiers, the Court will issue a notice to pay a court fee;

››Step 3: Pay the advance payment of the Civil Court of First Instance judgment in the Department of Execution and return the advance payment receipt to the Court;

››Step 4: The Court accepts the case for divorce and releases a notification of the case acceptance to send to the Procuracy of the same level and the defendant (person concerned). The case was resolved by the judgment or decision on the case;

Civil Court of First Instance fee is VND200,000 (if no property dispute).

For information on marriage in Vietnam go to Cross-Cultural Marriage: A Growing Trend In Vietnam