Common law marriages also referred to as a 'de facto' marriage is basically a marriage that is not officially registered but is recognized by law as a legal valid marriage or becomes valid after a period of time in which a man and a woman have cohabited as husband and wife and presented themselves to the outside world as husband and wife. In some countries such a 'de facto' marriage is recognized as a valid marriage. The principle of a common law or de facto marriage (whether it concerns a heterosexual or homosexual couple) is NOT recognized under Thai law. Marriage under the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code shall be effected only on registration being made.
Only registered marriages entered into the marriage register (section 1457) are recognized as legal and valid marriages in Thailand and will create the rights, duties and responsibilities of husband and wife under Thai family laws.
So, even though a man and a wife have cohabited as husband and wife in Thailand for several years, and maybe confirmed their status through a Buddhist marriage ceremony, this does not create a marriage under Thai law, nor could it create any rights or claims as to maintenance or to marital property by one of the parties for property titled in the other party's name. As a common law marriage or a Buddhist marriage ceremony does not create a valid marriage in Thailand a prenuptial agreement is not required to protect the personal assets of the parties during the cohabitation. Only if the marriage is officially registered and entered into the marriage register the relationship and properties between husband and wife is governed by the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. Only in this case a prenuptial agreement should be considered prior to registering the marriage.
Opposite to a common-law marriage, an official marriage can again only be ended through a formal divorce procedure. In case of a official marriage in Thailand a prenuptial agreement could be recommended to prevent future disputes over personal properties and possible division of marital assets.
Section 1457 (Civil and Commercial Code): Marriage under this Code shall be effected only on registration being made.
Section 1458 (Civil and Commercial Code): A marriage can take place only if the man and woman agree to take each other as husband and wife, and such agreement must be declared publicly before the Registrar in order to have it recorded by the Registrar.
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Practical advice from real lawyers on most common legal issues for expats in Thailand. Samuiforsale provides general Thai legal information and law resources in English over the Internet. The information in Samuiforsale should be used as general Thai legal information but should not be treated as a substitute for specific legal advice concerning individual situations.