Thai Marriage Implications on Property Rights
Foreigners visiting Thailand almost always fall in love not only with the natural beauty of this tropical paradise but also with the beautiful and friendly faces of its locals. As such, it is no surprise that marriages between Thai nationals and foreigners have become a common occurrence in this Land of Smiles. The growing increase in the number of queries on Thai marriage registration in the World Wide Web virtually matches up the number of “mixed” couples lining up in the District Offices of Thailand to declare their respective “I dos”. However, with the increase in Foreigner-Thai marriages come also property issues peculiar to this type of union.
In this age of pragmatism, it cannot be denied that some marriages are entered into with a not so romantic and sentimental reason. For some, marriage may be viewed as a direct insurance to long term stay in Thailand or a sure fire way of circumventing prohibitions on land ownership in the Kingdom. Unfortunately however, these reasons albeit attractive, are pretty much misplaced conjectures.
Marriage between a foreigner and a Thai national does not automatically entitle the foreigner spouse an unlimited period of stay in Thailand. At most, it only renders the foreigner spouse eligible for a marriage visa. Most importantly, marriage to a Thai national does not entitle the foreigner spouse to directly and personally own a piece of land in this tropical dreamland. In fact, when a married couple with a foreigner spouse buys a piece of land, Thai laws expressly require that the foreigner spouse sign a declaration stating that he/she does not have future rights over this property and that all funds used in this transaction belong wholly to the Thai spouse. Indeed, marital bliss may prove to be ever elusive to those prompted to the altar of matrimony simply by these practical illusions alone.
Another controversial issue respecting marriages, which is almost Shakespearean in substance, is the almost guilty murmurings of “To prenup or not to prenup.” Prenuptial agreement in Thailand although practically a must do preliminary in marriage, is viewed with much wariness and skepticism. This attitude towards “pre-nups” is primarily because of the belief that it reduces the otherwise sacrosanct sacrament of marriage into a mere sensible practicality of contract.
However, sentiments aside, prenup agreements are a necessary instrument that couples can use to protect their hard earned assets and to further define a sound structure that will govern the rights and obligations of spouses respecting future investments, earnings and liabilities. Moreover, it can also determine the potential division of assets should the marriage be later dissolved by reason of divorce or death. It is worth stressing that Prenuptial Agreements must conform to the Civil and Commercial Code in Thailand. Thus, it is important to seek counsel from registered and reputable lawyer, attorney or solicitor familiar with the laws in your home country and in Thailand before preparing a prenuptial agreement with a Thai national fiancé.
Matrimony is indeed a momentous and life changing occasion. Like any other endeavor of great consequence, it is imperative that it be given utmost thought and preparation. Thus, before embarking on that journey to marital bliss, make it sure that all your bases are well covered and protected because it could possibly be one bumpy ride.