Marital Property and Prenup Agreements in Thailand

Some marriages see the benefit of having prenuptial agreements. This is usually the case when one or both parties have properties they want to protect from being considered as part of the conjugal property when a couple gets married. If a spouse has businesses that involved other people, the spouse may elect to keep those businesses as separate from what can be considered communal property of husband and wife. In the same manner, that if a spouse has children from first marriage, the properties that rightfully belong to them should not be included in the new marriage’s conjugal property.

In Thailand, having a prenuptial agreement is an accepted practice. The prenuptial agreement in this country is governed by the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. A prenuptial agreement is a written contract created by a couple before marriage. The agreement lists all of the property, assets owned by each person and debts owed by the same person. The agreement will also spell out what the property rights will be after the marriage. A person can stipulate in the prenuptial agreement assignment of each property. And such stipulations will be honored in the event of death of the person or in the event of divorce or dissolution of marriage.

If a couple has made a prenuptial agreement, the Thai courts will recognize the agreement as a valid document if it was made before the marriage and entered in the government marriage registry. It is considered valid if the clauses are not against good morals or the law and if the agreement is signed in front of 2 witnesses and entered into the marriage register along with the marriage.

A spouse that initiates a prenuptial agreement has the following interests:

  • Protection of Separate Property. The prenuptial agreement can be used to provide assurance that a couple’s property will be disposed of according to their intentions. The parties can designate ownership of property in the event of divorce, separation, or death.
  • Protection of Business Assets. This applies to businesses with multiple owners or shareholders who want to keep the business assets separate from the couple’s property. Usually business partners of a person would not want the spouse to have voting rights or claims against the business especially if the spouse is not known to them.
  • Protection from Other Spouse’s Debts. It can sometimes happen that one party to the marriage incurs substantial debts before they met or got married. In such case, a prenuptial agreement can protect the assets of the spouse from the creditors of the debtor spouse. The debtor spouse should waive any claims to the assets of the spouse without debts, except in the event of death or divorce or separation.
  • Provide for Children. This applies to children from previous marriage and the children from the upcoming marriage. The agreement will specifically identify the properties and their respective assignments for all the children concerned.
  • Pass on Family Property. If a person has substantial interest in a family business, it is often the practice to keep the ownership of business interest within bloodlines. Therefore, the prenuptial agreement will stipulate that the spouse will hold no claims on the other spouse’s interests on the family business. This will also apply to family heirlooms or other assets of the spouse’s family.
  • Prevent the Court from Deciding on Division of Marital Property. With a valid prenuptial agreement, the court need not intervene in deciding on the division of marital property in the event of death or divorce.

In order to make sure that the prenuptial agreement stands in Thai court, seek counsel and legal advice from a registered Thai lawyer who is familiar with the local Civil Code.

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