FAMILY LAW in Thailand is primarily codified in the Civil and Commercial Code. The legal system of Family Law in Thailand is based on the European Civil Law system with main influences from the French Civil Law.
In Civil Law the general rule is codified and works from the top general written law down. Thai law is not made by judges and Thailand does not know case law (judge made law), but in practice it is impossible to understand Civil Law in Thailand without also taking into account the relevant Supreme Court judgments. The Supreme Court of Thailand gives rules for the exact interpretation of words and sections of the Civil and Commercial Code in order that written laws may be correctly understood and the extent of their meaning or significance determined. The Supreme Court does not rule over a specific case, or takes in consideration the circumstances and facts of a specific case, but explains the exact meaning and interpretation of the written law applied in the actual matter under ruling of the lower court. The Supreme Court rulings have binding authority, similar to written laws.
The main collection of written Family Laws Thailand can be found in the Civil and Commercial Code. Below the relevant section of the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code (a full index of the code can be found here...):
Couples wanting to formalize their relationship in Thailand must enter into a civil marriage. Thai law does not recognize same sex marriages, common law or 'de facto' marriages or Buddhist marriages. Only when the marriage is officially registered and entered into the marriage register a marriage is created. A marriage in Thailand cannot take place if the man or woman is already the spouse of another person (section 1452). Bigamy (marrying one person while still legally married to another) is a criminal offense under the Penal Code (section 137 'giving false information to a government official conducting the marriage and registration').
Marriage with a foreigner (under Thai or foreign law) does affect the right of a Thai national to own property in Thailand. Prior to 1999 Thais married to a foreigner lost the right to legally purchase and own land in Thailand (or any real estate property prohibited for foreign ownership). Currently a Thai married to a foreigner is allowed to register ownership in property in Thailand, but a legal procedure is required.
A prenuptial agreement is recognized in section 1465 of the Civil and Commercial Code. A Thai prenuptial agreement is a formal agreement made before the official marriage in Thailand and governs the financial relations between the prospective husband and wife as regards to their properties. The legal requirements which determine the validity of the prenuptial is also found in the Civil and Commercial Code.
A divorce in Thailand formal or the legal ending of a marriage. A divorce in Thailand means the dissolution of a marriage by the judgment of a court on the grounds for divorce given in the Civil and Commercial Code under the chapter 'termination of marriage' or a divorce on request by both the husband and wife by the Amphur or municipality in Thailand. The amphur or amphoe is the district government administrative office.
Foreigners’ right on properties acquired by inheritance and foreigners right to dispose of property by succession. If a person dies his assets can be transferred either by will or through inheritance and succession laws (where the deceased has failed to execute a valid will). If a person has not made a will his/her wishes may not necessarily be carried out. Foreigners with assets in Thailand should be aware of limitations of transferring interests and ownership by inheritance in Thailand
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.