Sailing the Seas of Marriage: Prenuptials and Divorce in Thailand

by admin on June 25, 2010

Whether you’re a novice sailor or an old salt, sailing the seas of marriage demands that there are certain things you should know about marriage in Thailand.  Yes, of course, this time it’s for real and you’ve set course for “happily ever after”, but the chances for a successful marriage nowadays are nearly equal to successfully navigating a voyage around the world in a rowboat.  Statistics show us that when you set sail upon the seas of marriage, you’ve got a 50/50 chance of making it to the other shore.  With statistics like this, any sailor should think carefully before setting sail under these unpredictable conditions. In Thailand, laws have been enacted to protect both parties in marriage and a Thailand prenuptial agreement can protect you from having to endure the stormy seas of a divorce in America.

Thailand Prenuptial Agreement

We’ve all heard the stories of the ironclad prenuptial agreement, but the facts tell us that this is a myth.  Many judges in a Western jurisdiction may strike down nearly any prenuptial agreement if there is the hint of impropriety that is justifiable under the law in the formation of the agreement.  Anything from non-declaration of assets, to your spouse not receiving adequate legal counsel before the signing, have led to agreements being struck down, with the offending spouse then subject to local laws which can circumvent the intent of the contracting parties altogether.  When seeking asset protection in Thailand or anywhere else, the would-be candidate will find that a Thailand prenuptial agreement has definite advantages.

In a Thailand marriage and a Thailand divorce, a Thailand prenup is registered with the government at the same time the marriage is registered, and approved by local authorities so long as it conforms to requirements set forth under Thai law.  The issue of conflict of law and the choice between laws from different jurisdictions is a difficult concept.  Divorces can be adjudicated by applying Thai laws in US courts or US laws in Thai court. An agreement drafted and executed in Thailand tends to favor a court decision for resolution of marriage issues in Thailand or pursuant to Thai law, and can lessen the chance for the U.S.-Thailand divorce to be heard and adjudicated by American courts or have US laws applied in a US court. 

US-Thailand Prenuptial Agreements

For Thai-US prenuptial agreements drafted and executed within of Thailand, the law is quite clear.  Such documents are null and void unless registered in Thailand according to Thai law.  Thus in a US-Thailand divorce, Thai courts will not uphold any provision of the agreement, as it fails to satisfy Thai law requirements. Further, even in US courts, Thai law may be the law applied. Therefore, a prenuptial agreement executed in Thailand but that is in violation of Thai law may be struck down. 

Where the marriage takes place is also of great importance.  Marriages that take place outside of Thailand and the ensuing American-Thai divorce, for example, have a much better chance of being governed by the laws where the marriage took place.  Since most foreigners have assets in their own country, that same divorce court has jurisdiction over the property the litigant is trying to protect.  Whereas a marriage and prenup registered in Thailand would normally call for the divorce proceedings to be heard in a Thai court, which has no jurisdiction over a foreigner’s assets that he or she holds in his or her own country.

Under Thai law, marital assets are divided into two categories:  Separate property is property gained by either party before the marriage and Community property is property acquired during the marriage.  A competent attorney can help the individual identify Separate property before the marriage in the prenuptial agreement and thus greatly diminish the chance that this property be divisible between the parties.  These are general rules, of course, and as in most legal actions, decisions are made on a case by case basis, since actions and intents of the parties vary in each case.

Just as an experienced sailor would not set sail without sufficient supplies and equipment on a voyage of discovery, an individual contemplating marriage with a Thai national should take proper care.  He or she should find an attorney competent in the area of family law, who has lengthy experience in such matters, and who is learned in the laws of both Thailand and America or any other jurisdiction outside of Thailand.  Also, be sure that your law office is completely bilingual, and do check credentials and certifications to insure that your interests are protected by a law professional.  Law offices that have a U.S. immigration lawyer in Thailand would be a good place to begin your research.

Good luck on your voyage of discovery and remember that diligent preparation will help you through those stormy waters and hopefully you will find your “happily ever after” on the seas of domestic tranquility.

Related Pages:

Thailand Divorce

Thailand Prenuptial Agreements

 Related Articles:

We have an Ironclad Prenuptial Agreement and Other Myths

International Divorce Cases and Prenuptial Agreements

Recent UK Prenuptial Case Decision

Considerations for International Prenuptial Agreements

Marriage and Divorce in Thailand: When Love Turns Deadly

Related Documents:

The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand

US Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jordon Mack June 30, 2010 at 3:19 am

Is the 50 percent chance of marriages succeeding a worldwide figure or average (mentioned in 1st paragraph)? Or is this just in certain countries? Certain countries must have lower divorce rates. I’m thinking of some middle-Eastern countries, for example, where divorce is still taboo, and even next-to-impossible for wives stuck in a bad marriage to get done. I know in Thailand, it is still not as common as in the States (at least between Thai to Thai). SO, the real question here is what is the success rate for Thai-female to Western-male marriages??

Ubonwan Ruangram February 20, 2012 at 5:16 am

My name is Ubonwan, I’m Thai 26 years old, live in Buriram.
I went to USA on 6th Dec I marry on the 7th Dec 2011 in Manson county Ohio. To Brian Wilson from Peebles Ohio. He made many problems for me. I leave him 15th Dec he try to keep me but i get away and not have sex. Can I get marriage annulment or dissolved. I am back in Thailand now, I have no job I give up my job of 7 years to come and marry. But it was very bad for me. Can i get annulment and from sign here with Thai lawyer? He said he had already filed for divorce but he has not. I think he just play a game i want divorce. how can i do?

Albert Bass December 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm

If i married a thi woman in 1985 and stayed married for two yrs,she came to us with nothing but now she owns resturant and has big money dose she owe me dowry,now her family is living rich and im living poor.and her sister is a millionair.but they treat me like s i have any rights for changing thier life?

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