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Thai Family Law: Preparation and Precautions

Aug 7

The best interests of the child are a major policy consideration in Thailand family law. The courts carefully analyze the parents' behavior and child development issues in determining custody cases.

A prenuptial agreement can state your personal property and specify that it cannot be taken by your spouse in divorce proceedings. This will save you a lot of money in the future.

Prenuptial Agreement

In many situations, couples with significant existing financial wealth prepare prenuptial agreements to ensure that their assets will not be lost by a divorce. These contracts are enforceable in Thailand and can be registered at the same time as the marriage, providing clarity to the parties as to their respective property relations. In the case of a divorce, they also provide protection for the heirs of each party.

It is important to note that the content of a prenuptial agreement in Thailand must comply with specific requirements under Thai civil and commercial law. It is therefore advisable to retain the services of a qualified lawyer who is familiar with both your home country’s laws and Thai law or to work closely with a firm that has such an experienced legal professional on staff.

Unlike other jurisdictions where the contents of a prenup can be quite broad, Thai law stipulates that such agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties and can only deal with personal and marital property. They are furthermore void if they are found to be against public order or good morals.

A prenuptial agreement can also include a clause stating that should a divorce occur, the parties will use the law of their own country to govern their property relations (this is commonly done in cases where one party has significant assets and/or income of a foreign nationality). In addition, a prenup may include a provision for the couple to designate which country’s law should apply to their relationship (this could be particularly useful in a situation where you have a property in another country that you wish to protect, or when you intend to reside in another jurisdiction after your marriage). A good Thai family lawyer should be able to assist with these arrangements.

Marriage Registration

If a couple wishes to get married in Thailand, the first thing they need to do is affirm with their respective embassies that they are indeed citizens and have no legal impediment to getting married in Thailand. For foreigners, the embassy will confirm that they are of marriageable age and will ensure that their marriage is valid under Thai law (as opposed to the law in their own country).

Marriage registration in Thailand requires both parties to make a public declaration that they consent to take each other as husband and wife. This will be done before the district registrar who will then register the marriage. This step is very important as the marriage will now be legally binding in Thailand and recognized all over the world.

The couple should have their prenuptial agreement on hand when they go to register their marriage. This will be attached to their marriage certificate upon registration and will serve as a way of ensuring that their rights are protected in the event of a divorce.

It is also advisable for the couple to make a full inventory of their existing assets and liabilities and to provide this to their lawyer as well. This is a recommended precautionary measure to help avoid any future disputes regarding property division, especially given the classifications of private and common property under Thai family law.

Divorce Proceedings in Thailand

A prenuptial agreement plays a very important role in shaping divorce proceedings in Thailand. This is because Thai law mandates that the property of both spouses must be divided equally in the event of a divorce. This means that any assets that have been acquired during the marriage are considered common property, whereas personal property (also referred to as Sin Suan Tua in Thai) remains owned by the individual.

This means that a prenup allows a couple to define the classification of private and common property – making it easy in case of a dispute to determine which assets belong to each of them. Furthermore, a prenup can also stipulate management rights for any real estate that is jointly owned.

If both parties are in agreement on the terms of their divorce the process is relatively quick and can be completed in one day. However, if the parties are not in agreement then the divorce must be contested and the matter would be handled by the Family Courts division.

In a contested divorce the spouse who wants the divorce can file a petition on a number of grounds including three years of separation, adultery, and if there are children involved then child custody. The Court will verify if the claim has ground under the law and then make a decision.

Child Support in Thailand

In Thailand, child support is a fundamental aspect of the country's family law system, ensuring the welfare and well-being of children when their parents are separated or divorced. Here's a brief overview:

  1. Legal Framework: The main laws governing child support in Thailand are stipulated in the Civil and Commercial Code. These regulations detail the responsibilities of parents, ensuring that children's needs, including education, health, and general welfare, are met.

  2. Determination: Child support amounts are typically determined by a Thai court. The court considers various factors such as the child's living standards before the separation, the needs of the child, and the financial capacity of both parents.

  3. Duration: Typically, child support obligations continue until the child reaches the age of 20 or completes their education.

  4. Enforcement: If a parent refuses or fails to provide the court-ordered child support, the other parent can take legal action to enforce the order. The court has various mechanisms, such as wage garnishments or property seizures, to ensure compliance.

  5. Modifications: As circumstances change, either parent can petition the court to modify the child support amount. This could be due to reasons like significant changes in income, the child's needs, or other relevant factors.

Thailand's legal system emphasizes the importance of child welfare, ensuring that both parents contribute equitably to their child's upbringing even in cases of separation or divorce. However, as with all legal matters, it's advisable for parents to consult with a legal expert in Thai family law to navigate the intricacies of child support in the country.