Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Marriage Registration Thailand’

13th April 2010

For information in English please see: marriage registration.

มีคนหลายคนแต่งงานในประเทศไทยในแต่ละปี เราได้รับคำถามเกี่ยวกับการยอมรับการสมรสในประเทศไทยจากลูกค้าชาวต่างชาติมากมาย ประเทศไทยไม่ใช่ประเทศในระบอบคอมมอนลอว์ และเพราะเหตุนั้นการสมรสตามกฎหมายคอมมอนลอว์ไม่สามารถใช้ยันในศาลไทยได้ นั่นหมายความว่าแม้ประเทศไทยจะเป็นระบบกฎหมายซีวิลลอว์ การแต่งงานตามประเภณีหรือตามศาสนายังคงเป็นเรื่องที่ปกติ นี่อาจจะมีสาเหตุมาจากการจดทะเบียนสมรสเป็นไปค่อนข้างยาก โดยเฉพาะสำหรับคนที่ไม่คุ้นเคยกับระบบกฎหมายไทยและหน่วยงานราชการของไทย

ในประเทศไทย การสมรสคือการจดทะเบียนที่สำนักงานอำเภอ สำนักงานนี้เป็นหน่วยงานที่รับข้อมูลด้านสำมะโนประชากร และในระบบอเมริกันเราเรียกว่า Court Clerk อำเภอจะเก็บข้อมูลของบุคคลที่มีภูมิลำเนาอยู่ในเขตนั้นๆ ดังนั้นอำเภอจะเก็บข้อมูลการเปลี่ยนชื่อ การสมรส การเกิด และการตายในประเทศไทย เป็นไปได้ที่บุคคลที่ไม่มีสัญชาติไทยสองคนจะสมรสกันในประเทศไทย อนึ่ง สำนักงานแต่ละแห่งจะมีระเบียบภายในของตนเอง ดังนั้นคุณควรปรึกษาทนายเพื่อช่วยเหลือในการจดทะเบียนสมรส

เมื่อมีการจดทะเบียนสมรสตามกฎหมายไทยแล้ว คำถามคือ สหรัฐอเมริกายอมรับการสมรสนั้นหรือไปไม่ พูดง่ายๆก็คือ ยอมรับ ตามเว็บไซต์ของสถานทูตอเมริกาประจำประเทศไทยนั้น ในกรณีที่การสมรสได้ทำขึ้นตามกฎหมายในราชอาณาจักร ประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกายอมรับความสมบูรณ์ของการสมรสนั้นนี่เป็นคำถามสำคัญโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งในกรณีเกี่ยวกับวีซ่าสหรัฐอเมริกา หากว่าการสมรสของคู่สมรสนั้นไม่ได้รับการยอมรับจากสหรัฐอเมริกา คำขอวีซ่า CR1 หรือ K3 สำหรับคู่สมรสก็จะถูกปฏิเสธ เนื่องจากคู่สมรสไม่มีคุณสมบัติที่จะออกวีซ่าให้ อีกทั้งสำหรับคู่รักที่ต้องการขอวีซ่า K1 สำหรับคู่หมั้น ก็อาจจะเกิดมาจากการที่ทั้งคู่ได้สมรสกันในประเทศไทยโดยคิดว่าสหรัฐอเมริกาไม่ยอมรับการสมรสนั้น ในกรณีนั้น USCIS จะถูกบังคับให้ต้องปฏิเสธคำขอเนื่องจากคำขอขาดคุณสมบัติ เจตนาที่จะสมรส ไม่ใช่จากการสมรสนั้น

มุมมองที่น่าสนใจเกี่ยวกับการจดทะเบียนสมรสของไทยที่ต้องเกี่ยวกับการทำสัญญาก่อนสมรส ในประเทศไทย สัญญาก่อนสมรสจะถูกบันทึกไว้พร้อมกับการจดทะเบียนสมรสที่อำเภอใน สำหรับข้อมูลเพิ่มเติมโปรดดูเรื่อง สัญญาก่อนสมรสของไทย

เพื่อเป็นการสรุป การสมรสที่ทำขึ้นอย่างถูกต้องในประเทศไทยถือว่าสมบูรณ์ในประเทศสหรัฐอเมริกา และเพื่อวัตถุประสงค์ในการขอวีซ่าอเมริกา หรือเพื่อผลประโยชน์ทางกฎหมายคนเข้าเมืองอื่นๆ ดังนั้นการสมรสในประเทศไทยไม่ใช่สิ่งที่ควรให้ความสำคัญเพียงเล็กน้อย เมื่อคิดจะทำการสมรสในประเทศไทย โปรดจำไว้ว่าการสมรสนั้นจะถูกปฏิบัติเหมือนการสมรสที่เกิดขึ้นในสหรัฐอเมริกา

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3rd December 2009

Prenuptial Agreements are important instruments both for asset protection and for litigation avoidance. For those who wish to execute a prenuptial agreement in Thailand, the advice of a competent licensed attorney is highly recommended.

Many who are in the process of getting married do not wish to discuss the prospect of a possible marital dissolution. This attitude is similar to those who do not wish to discuss estate planning or Wills because they do not wish to think of their own death. Although an understandable feeling, often dealing with such issues in an open and reasonable manner can put all parties at ease. With regard to prenuptial agreements, there are some formalities which must be dealt with after the marriage has been registered.

For those with a retirement or pension plan, the effects of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) can have a major impact upon the Thai Prenuptial Agreement process. As mentioned previously on this blog, and elsewhere, prenuptial agreements need to be properly drafted by a competent attorney. Also, the Thai fiancee signing the agreement should be provided with independent counsel in order to ask questions about the agreement and have all rights, obligations, waivers, and entitlements explained in layman’s terms. Further, if the Thai fiancee is not a native English speaker, then it may be advisable to have a Thai interpreter assist in advising her as to her rights.

That being said, ERISA requires that a further waiver be signed after the marriage is registered or executed. This is due to the fact that only a spouse is entitled to waive rights delegated under ERISA. As ERISA is Federal law it trumps state law pursuant to, among other things, the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution. Those with a pension or retirement plan covered under ERISA, should seek experienced legal counsel to explain how their interests can be protected in a prenuptial agreement. Fortunately, their are ERISA waivers which allow the parties to make individualized provisions as to the distribution of pension funds in the event of marital dissolution. That being said, attorney consultation is highly recommended as ERISA can be a very complicated area of law.

As with any premarital agreement, a Thai prenuptial agreement should be signed prior to the marriage. However, Thai prenuptial agreements are registered at the same time as the Thai marriage registration. Therefore, it may be possible to execute an ERISA waiver soon after marriage registration in Thailand.

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22nd November 2009

In many ways, the laws of the Kingdom of Thailand and those of the United States of America are very similar, but in some ways these two systems are extremely different. For example, the Kingdom of Thailand has a Civil Registrar’s office also known as an Amphur office, or Amphoe Office, in Thai. These offices act as repositories of vital statistics of those living  in the Kingdom. They are important because one must register many official documents with this office in order to be provided certain legal protections. A common example of the duties associated with the Amphur office are those associated with a Thai marriage registration. An Amphur can register a Thai marriage in a very short period of time compared to jurisdictions in the United States of America. In some cases, this could also be said about Thai divorces. If a couple has decided to simply divorce by consent, then it is relatively simple to register the divorce in Thailand. However, if the divorce is contested, then there may be problems executing a marital dissolution quickly. In a slightly different situation, if one of the parties to the marriage cannot be found, then it may be difficult to register a divorce because the Amphur office requires that both parties be present when the divorce is registered.

Assuming one must use the courts to dissolve the marriage, the Thai legal system treats divorce similar to the “fault” based system employed by some jurisdictions in the United States. A “fault” divorce system compels the parties to show cause as to why the marriage should be dissolved. The unfortunate consequence of this system is the fact that “fault” divorces take a substantially longer period of time to complete compared to the “no fault” system. The reason for the delay is due, in part, to the large case load of most Thai courts. However, once the Thai court has entered a judgment of marital dissolution, the case is not over. Instead, the divorce judgment must still be registered at the Amphur office.

Registration of Thai divorces at a local Amphur office is somewhat akin to having the Clerk of a “common law” Court record the divorce judgment. This puts the jurisdiction on notice that the dissolution has occurred. The major difference is the fact that a clerk is generally in the same courthouse as the Judge who executed the marital dissolution. In Thailand, one must proceed to a wholly different office, the Amphur, in order to finalize the divorce by having the Amphur officer record the dissolution.

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26th July 2009

This blog has been keeping track of the US Immigration implications of recognition of Same Sex Marriage under United States Federal law. Currently, a US law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), precludes the United States Federal government from recognizing same sex marriage (even when the marriage was validly executed in one of the fifty US States). Also, DOMA provides American states with the option of not recognizing same-sex unions in other states (although this provision has been question on Full Faith and Credit grounds).  Since the United States government does not recognize same sex marriage, same sex bi-national couples cannot obtain US Immigration benefits based upon a marital relationship.

There are currently movements to provide immigration benefits for same-sex couples. One pending bill is known as the Uniting American Families Act which has apparently been reborn under a new moniker: the Re-Uniting American Families Act. There is also a movement gaining a great deal of steam that seeks a full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. It is this author’s opinion, that eventually the Defense of Marriage Act will be repealed. The upshot of DOMA’s repeal will be an increase in family immigration benefits for same sex couples.

This pending legislation and political movement has been the focal point of many posts previously written on this blog, but since this blog is also concerned with Thai law, it begs the question: does Thailand recognize same sex marriage? The short answer: No. It should be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant cultures in the world, particularly regarding gay rights. That being said, there is no process under Thai law for legalizing a relationship of two people who are of the same sex. In many countries, a legal partnership known as a “civil union” is used to legitimize a relationship between two people of the same sex.  In Thailand, there is no “civil union” mechanism for providing legal protection for a same sex couple. That being said, Thailand marriage registration is often not a method employed by a couple who wishes to have an ongoing relationship. It is quite common in Thailand for a couple to have a marriage ceremony (customary or religious), but never actually register a marriage in Thailand with the local Amphur office (District Office). Therefore, as a practical matter Thai same sex couples can maintain a domestic relationship in a manner similar to different sex couples who choose not to legalize their union.

At the present time there does not appear to be any political movement to legalize same sex marriage in Thailand. For those who wish to protect their same sex loved one, legal mechanisms such as a Thai will can assist in providing legal benefits usually accorded to those in a different sex relationship.

For more information please see: Bangkok Lawyer, or Visa Lawyer Thailand.

(Please note that the information contained herein is intended for educational purposes only. No lawyer-client relationship is created by reading this piece.)

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25th May 2009

An issue that many Thai-American couples grapple with is that of deciding whether or not to register a marriage in Thailand or wait and conduct a marriage in the United States. This is an issue that can have a major impact on a Thai-American couple’s US Immigration options because United States Citizenship and Immigration Services as well as the US Embassy in Thailand view a couple with a registered marriage differently than a couple without a registered marriage. Also, a US Citizen’s marital status vis-a-vis a Thai Fiancee or Thai wife will affect the processing time for the type of visa being sought, and not in a way that most people expect.

The Irony of K1 Visas from Thailand: Why being Unmarried may be Beneficial

A counter intuitive aspect of K1 visas is the fact that they are generally a faster visa and immigration option than a marriage visa. This is due to the fact that there seems to be a lower case backlog of K1 visas at USCIS when compared to CR-1 and IR-1 Visas.  Also, the fact that a K1 visa is a non-immigrant visa might lead to less scrutiny from both USCIS and the US Embassy because the visa does not confer permanent residence, conditional or otherwise. This is not to imply that either adjudicators at USCIS or consular officers at the US Embassy in Bangkok are not fully conducting due diligence, but instead there seems to be an inherently lower level of scrutiny for non-immigrant visas when compared to immigrant visas. This is also true when comparing the K1 visa to a US tourist visa because the applicant for that visa must overcome the 2statutory presumption of immigrant intent. Since a fiance visa is a “hybrid visa” there is no need to overcome the presumption of immigrant intent threshold in order to be granted the visa, as with other non-immigrant visas.

Marriage Visas from Thailand

Some people who have already married in Thailand ask if it is possible to register a Thai divorce and subsequently apply for a K1 visa. Although technically feasible, the discretionary power of adjudicators in both USCIS and the Embassy in Bangkok could result in a finding that the relationship is not bona fide because the couple is divorced only to enjoy the benefit of faster processing times of the K1 visa over the US Marriage visas. For those married and residing in Thailand it may be possible to apply for an immigrant visa at the local USCIS office in Bangkok, in this situation marriage registration may be a boon to the Thai-American couple.

Thanks for reading, for more information please see: Marriage Registration Thailand or US Visa Thailand

(Please note: this writing is intended for informational purposes only and should not be utilized as a substitute for legal advice from a Licensed US Immigration Lawyer. No attorney client relationship is created between the author and any reader of this piece.)

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