Thai marriage law and matrimonial property
A marriage in Thailand will have legal consequences for you and your spouse such as the obligation of maintenance towards each other, legal relationship with children born and will also have consequences for property you own. Under Thai matrimonial property law all assets acquired during the marriage (with a few exceptions) becomes jointly owned property between husband and wife and when the marriage ends in the event of death or divorce all jointly owned ('matrimonial') property must under Thai law be divided in equal shares (section 1533). Personal property (property you owned before the marriage) remains under Thai law automatically exclusive ownership of each spouse and the other spouse cannot make claims to personal property of the other spouse during marriage or in the event of death or divorce.
The Thai statutory matrimonial property regime prescribes the division of common property in equal shares in the event the marriage is terminated. It is under Thai law not possible to alter this statutory regime in for example a prenuptial agreement.
Matrimonial property laws outside Thailand
Matrimonial property laws could be different in other countries and a marriage in Thailand may also have consequences for assets you own outside Thailand. The Thai statutory matrimonial regime will not automatically apply to all your assets. Outside Thailand rules of private international law of a specific jurisdiction will determine (a) if they have jurisdiction in for example a divorce request and (b) the law of which country that is applicable on property of husband and wife and thus who is entitled to what when the marriage ends.
A prenuptial made in Thailand under Thai law may in case of a divorce not be recognized by another country (e.g. when the couple moves and resides in another country which then has jurisdiction to end the marriage by divorce). It is therefore important to understand the consequences of marriage in that country and the specific legal requirements in relation to the recognition and enforcement of a prenuptial agreement (in any) or the option for the spouses to agree to abide by either the husbands (foreign) or wife's (Thai) national laws.
Sample: when a Dutch national marries a Thai national in Thailand and after a while they move to live in the Netherlands. In the event of a divorce in the Netherlands a court will have to determine which law will be applied in the divorce and how assets are to be divided. If the court determines this is the Dutch system and the Dutch statutory matrimonial property regime as provided by Dutch civil law will be applied this will have far greater consequences for the couple than when the Thai regime would be applied (though new marriage rules have limited such consequences as of 2018). If the couple wants to assure the Thai statutory system is applied by a Dutch court they should have made a prenuptial agreement with a choice for Thai law, or if no prenup exists the should have made a choice of law through a notary deed in the Netherlands. In the Netherlands such choice of law for foreign marriage laws applied in a marriage with an international dimension requires a notary deed. In other countries different requirements for the making of a choice of law exist. Should the couple have moved to for example England a different set of rules will be applied.
Choose the applicable law
It is in many countries it is possible to make a choice of law or designate the applicable law (a choice of jurisdictions in divorce) that must apply to your marriage property regime. Not all countries allow this freedom between husband and wife and a choice of law made in one country may not be valid in another country. When you marry in Thailand and your marriage has an international dimension you should obtain legal advice in the country where you plan to live or where your main assets are located. If you can choose the applicable law it must be made in the right form. A valid choice of law could prevent that assets are divided in a divorce or at death in a way you did not anticipated. A choice of law determines the applicable law that will be applied on your matrimonial property when your marriage has an international dimension, but again you have to obtain legal advice locally outside Thailand for the specific requirements. A Thai marriage does not automatically mean that the Thai marriage laws will be applied on assets outside Thailand.
DOWNLOAD a Thai English prenuptial agreement template drafted under Thai marriage laws with a choice for Thai law.