Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thai prenup’

28th March 2010

For many Thai-American couples a prenuptial agreement is an effective method of ensuring that bot parties understand the rights, obligations, and responsibilities that marriage entails. The US Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand issues a large number of visas to the fiancees and spouses of American Citizens. As this is the case, one of the ancillary issues regarding US Immigration involves prenuptial agreements as many couples opt to have a Thai Prenuptial Agreement signed prior to a marriage which is used as a basis for a K3 Visa or a CR1 Visa or they opt to have a prenuptial agreement drafted prior to a Thai fiancee’s departure to the USA on a US fiance visa (also known as a K1 visa). That being said, having a prenuptial agreement properly drafted is extremely important as failure to properly draft such an important document could lead to unforeseen problems down the road.

In previous posting on this blog, this author has discussed the importance of having a licensed US attorney act as a representative in US Immigration matters as “visa companies,” “visa agents” and fly by night operations claiming to be either lawyers, attorneys, or both cannot represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). With regard to a Thai prenup, one should retain a licensed American attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement if for not other reason than the fact that they are trained in the working of United States law as well as the common law system in general. Unfortunately, those falsely claiming legal credentials are often drafting documents that are insufficient to ensure the security of one’s assets.

The obvious question that many people in Thailand have is: how can I be sure that the person drafting my prenuptial agreement is a lawyer? As with United States Immigration matters, the best way to verify an individual’s credentials is to ask for either a State Supreme Court License, a State Bar Association Membership Card, or a Federal license to practice law in a US Federal jurisdiction. After receiving the individual’s credentials, it may be necessary to check with the Supreme Court or Bar Association to be certain that the individual is an attorney in that jurisdiction.

Prenuptial Agreements are very important documents and they should be carefully drafted by someone with legal acumen. Entrusting something so important to those without credentials is a risky endeavor that will likely not be recognized until long after correspondence with the drafter has terminated.

For further information please see: Prenuptial Agreement Thailand.

more Comments: 04

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.

more Comments: 04

27th November 2009

In the United States of America it is often necessary to obtain a marriage license before getting married. For those living in Thailand marriage can be a major issue and a commonly asked question is: do I need a marriage license before my Thai fiancee and I can execute a legal marriage in the Kingdom. Strictly speaking, a marriage license is not necessary, but there are certain formalities that must be met before a couple can be legally wed in Thailand.

In cases where a Thai wishes to marry a Thai, the process is relatively simple because the couple must simply go to their local Amphur office (also known as an Amphoe office or Civil Registrar’s office). Once the couple arrives at the Amphur they must present their Thai Identification cards and a marriage can be registered relatively quickly.

In cases where a Thai Citizen wishes to marry a foreigner (also known as a Farang in the Thai language), the requirements are somewhat more stringent. This is due to the fact that the foreign national must prove up his or her single status. This is usually done by traveling to the foreign national’s Embassy or Consulate. Generally, an Embassy or Consulate can provide documentation that proves the applicant is legally free to marry. For American Citizens, such documentation can be obtained at the American Citizen Services section of the United States Embassy in Bangkok or the US Consulate in Chiang Mai. Once this documentation is obtained it must be translated and legalized before the Amphur will accept it for marriage registration purposes.

Occasionally, two foreign nationals seek to register a Thai marriage. In cases such as this the couple must obtain the previously mentioned documentation proving single status. In a case where both parties are of different nationality, then different procedures may be required as two separate Embassies must be contacted. The requirements for obtaining documentation for a marriage in Thailand are not uniform. Each Embassy has its own protocols regarding what type of documentation it will issue and what supporting documentation must be submitted before the Embassy will certify an applicant as legally free to marry. With that in mind, those interested in registering a Thai marriage should learn what their Embassy requires to issue a single status affidavit.

To sum up, although Thai officials do not require a marriage license before a marriage will be registered, they do require that the parties prove that they are both free to marry. Proving this can be difficult for some foreign nationals as each Embassy has their own rules for issuing affidavits of single status.

On a related note, those wishing to execute a Thai prenup should register it and the marriage simultaneously. Otherwise, the Thai courts may later refuse to recognize the agreement in the event of divorce.

more Comments: 04

20th November 2009

Unfortunately Thailand is a breeding ground for disreputable firms offering drafting services for a Thai prenuptial agreement. One of the telltale signs of such an operation is a so-called American “lawyer,” offering an American Prenuptial agreement for Thai fiancees. The first thing one ought to do when dealing with anyone claiming to be an attorney: ask for their credentials. An actual licensed attorney from the United States should be able to produce a bar card, supreme court license, or US Federal license to practice law.

That being said, there are further issues to remember when drafting a prenuptial agreement. One major formality should be adhered to when creating a prenuptial agreement and failure to adhere to this formality can severely damage a prenuptial agreement’s later enforceability. This important formality is a review with an independent attorney.

A prenuptial agreement, like many legal contracts, requires that all parties understand the agreement at the time that they sign it. In cases where the agreement is with a Thai fiancee, it is wise to have both a Thai version of the agreement and an independent attorney who can review the agreement with the fiancee so that she understands all aspects of the agreement and all of the legal rights and benefits that she is both acquiring and relinquishing by signing the agreement. Having the agreement drawn up by an unlicensed attorney runs the risk of having its provisions later thrown out due to poor draftsmanship. Further, failure to have an independent attorney review the document with the Thai fiancee could result in a court finding that the provisions of the agreement should not be followed because the Thai fiancee did not understand what she was signing when she signed it.

For these reasons, it is highly advisable to retain a licensed attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement in both Thai and English. A legitimate attorney can then refer the Thai fiancee to another licensed independent attorney who can provide an accurate and impartial assessment of the agreement as well as answer any questions that the Thai fiancee might have.

Some couples opt to have their signatures notarized and in Thailand an attorney will likely have access to a Thai notary. If the couple plans to sign the agreement in the United States, then it would be wise to retain the services of a notary in the state where the agreement is signed. A notary must actually witness the signatures of both parties. At American Citizen Services at the US Embassy in Bangkok the consular officers can provide notary services. Although a Thai notary is valid if the agreement is signed in Thailand.

For more information, please see Thailand Prenup.

more Comments: 04

8th November 2009

In many cases, those thinking of drafting a Thai prenuptial agreement also ponder the related issue of a Last Will and Testament in Thailand. Although both of these instruments can have an impact upon the distribution of Thai property they should not be viewed as completely complimentary devices as they serve different purposes and the drafting of these documents requires adherence to different sets of rules regarding legal formalities.

A Thai prenuptial agreement is an instrument used for the purpose of pre-designating a property distribution should a marital relationship dissolve. If the underlying marriage is registered at an Amphur office (Civil Registrar’s office) in Thailand, then the Thai prenuptial agreement must be simultaneously registered with the marriage. Failure to simultaneously register the Thai prenup could, and may very likely, result in a Thai court subsequently refusing to take notice of the prenuptial agreement when deciding how the marital estate should be divided.

A Thai will is a testamentary instrument that is used to divide the estate of a Thai or one who has died in Thailand. When drafting a will in Thailand, or in any jurisdiction, one must adhere to certain legal formalities in order to ensure that a court will enforce the provisions of the will itself. When a court divides the estate of the deceased, this process is known as probate and a probate court could throw out an improperly drafted will. This is why retaining the advice of a Thai lawyer may be advisable when drafting a new Thai will.

So-called “spouse election,” statutes should be mentioned when discussing Thai prenuptial agreements and wills for United States Citizens looking to marry Thai nationals. A “spouse election,” statute is a type of legislation that exists in many jurisdictions throughout the United States. Such legislation is designed to curb disinheritance of surviving spouses in wills or other testamentary devices. The result of “spouse election,” statutes in the USA is that the spouse of a deceased person can usually be confident that they will inherit at least 1/3 or 1/2 of the net probate estate (the actual percentage depends upon the state). Such rules are important to note for those drafting a prenuptial agreement because a prenuptial agreement should not be drafted in such a way that its provisions contravene the “spouse election” statute in the state of the US Citizen’s residence. Therefore, it may be wise to consider Wills and Prenuptial agreements as wholly separate instruments and thereby keep each of these instruments free of provisions that stray into the bailiwick of the other.

more Comments: 04

17th June 2009

Information swirling around the internet regarding prenuptial agreements can be less than helpful or downright dangerous. One thing to bear in mind is the fact that writing one’s own prenuptial agreement is generally not a wise idea because an attorney understands the legal implications of certain language used in the agreement. Someone without legal training might be unaware of the consequences involved when using or omitting certain key phrases.

There is a rather common misconception that prenuptial agreements will be held inviolate by the courts. This is frankly not true. There are situations where a court will throw out a prenuptial agreement. For this reason, it may be doubly important that professional legal counsel be retained in order to forestall a judicial nullification of an otherwise duly formalized prenuptial agreement.

A misconception of less prevalence in the United States, but perhaps more prevalent in the Kingdom of Thailand is the idea that prenuptial agreements will be automatically thrown out of court. This belief is especially widespread among the British expatriate community in Thailand. Although it is true that British Courts take a dim view regarding prenuptial agreements, there are some instances of the court taking them into account when dividing marital property, but as a rule, they are not generally recognized. That being said, Thai courts will recognize a duly formalized prenuptial agreement and for this reason it is probably prudent for the expat with assets that he wishes to protect in Thailand to register a prenuptial agreement at the time of the Thailand Marriage Registration.

Some people believe that prenuptial agreements can make stipulations regarding child custody. It is an almost universal fact that prenuptial agreements that make provisions for child custody, particularly with regard to as-yet unborn children, will be thrown out of court, because it is the Court’s duty to make decisions regarding the child based upon the best interests of that child.

In most jurisdictions in the United States provisions can be made that will limit spousal maintenance should their be a dissolution. In any case involving the waiver of maintenance rights, it is prudent to have an independent attorney explain the agreement to the non-drafting fiancee. This forestalls the agreement being thrown out because the fiancee was ignorant of the agreements provisions at the time she signed it. Further it may be wise, depending upon the situation, to have the prenuptial agreement signed ad then let an interval of time pass before Thai marriage registration.

(Please be on notice: this post is not a satisfactory substitute for competent legal advice from an attorney. No attorney-client relationship is created between author and reader.)

more Comments: 04

12th May 2009

Prenups in Thailand

Prenuptial Agreements in Thailand are one area of law where diverse legal specialties intersect. The reason for this intersection is the fact that Prenuptial Agreements can involve many jurisdictions as well as substantive areas of law. As an example, if a prenuptial agreement is drafted and executed in Massachusetts, but the divorce occurs in California, what state’s law will govern? In what state will the agreement need to be adjudicated?

Further add the element of a Foreign Country’s laws being added into the equation and conflict of laws questions multiply exponentially. In the example of Thailand, under Thai law, the prenuptial agreement is registered with the marriage so that the agreement becomes part of the marriage contract. Therefore, if the prenuptial agreement is not registered with the Amphur at the time of the Thai marriage, then the prenuptial agreement is likely to be rendered unenforceable.

Conversely, in most jurisdictions of the United States, the prenuptial agreement need only be signed by both parties before the marriage takes place in order for the legal formalities to be met. So, what does one do about ensuring that a prenuptial agreement is properly drafted? In Thailand, it is essential to retain the service of firm that knows how to handle prenuptial agreement drafting where multiple jurisdictions are involved. There are many so-called “visa agents” and “visa specialists” who have gotten into the business of drafting prenuptial agreements and charge exorbitant rates for a document of dubious quality because it was not drafted by a legal professional. Always be leery of this type of operator.

Essentially, a prenup drafted for US jurisdictions and translated into Thai is a very effective method of asset protection, but it is not 100% guaranteed. Prenuptial agreements can be thrown out for many different reasons, but the most common reasons for a judge to throw out a Thailand prenup is the fact that it is unconscionable, one party truly did not understand what they were signing when they signed it, or the prenuptial agreement dictates terms on issues that the court feels it has no right to dictate (generally, child custody and child support payments are issues that a properly drafted prenuptial agreement should not mention).

One of the most important things to consider when obtaining a Thai prenup is to make sure that the Thai party had a translated version and had adequate legal counsel who was an independent operator.

(Nothing in this post is meant as a substitute for personal legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created by reading this post).

For information about Us Immigration for Fiancees and Wives from Thailand, please see:

Fiance Visa Thailand or K3 Visa Thailand

more Comments: 04

24th March 2009

A common question for people getting married in Thailand is: can I get a prenuptial agreement in Thailand? The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Prenuptial agreements are recognized under Thai law and, if properly drafted, a Thai prenuptial agreement will be registered at the time of the Thai marriage. This is not the end of the story. There are some details that should be discussed before obtaining a Thai prenuptial agreement.

Thai Prenuptial Agreement when Registering a Marriage in Thailand

In Thailand, in order for a prenuptial agreement to be enforceable, the agreement must be registered at the time of the marriage. This is a literal statement, meaning that the agreement is attached to the marriage registration and is incorporated into the Thai marriage registration process. This is slightly different from prenuptial agreements in the US where they are simply signed before the marriage and it is somewhat separate from the marriage legalization.

Thai prenuptial agreements and US law

In a Thai prenup it is advisable to choose what type of law will govern the agreement. This means that if two people sign a prenuptial agreement that uses Idaho law, then at the time of the marriage dissolution, Idaho law will govern the agreement, regardless of where the divorce takes place. For Thai prenuptial agreements this is an important concept because it is probably not a good idea to use Thai law to govern the agreement. The reason for this is that most American jurisdictions will have a difficult time adjudicating property distributions on Thai legal principles due to the fact that those principles are foreign to concepts under common law. Also, a major reason for not using Thai law is the fact that the legislation is written in Thai and would thus be difficult to translate and interpret. This being said, a choice of law provision can be incorporated into a Thai prenuptial agreement so that US law will govern the agreement even though the agreement was executed in Thailand.

Why a US Attorney is necessary for Thai Prenuptial Agreements drafted for Americans

A US attorney in conjunction with a Bangkok lawyer can draft a prenuptial agreement that fully comports with both Thai and US law and ensure that it fully protects an American client’s assets should a divorce occur. Although Thai prenuptial agreements are not a guaranteed method of asset protection, they provide a great deal of protection for assets should a divorce arise.

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.