As an Australian you might be interest in retirement in Thailand or getting married while in Thailand. Either way there will always be the issue with property and how best to deal with this when in a foreign country. Thailand has a different legal system to Australia and property litigation in Thailand is not uncommon when you are getting divorced.
The time spent in litigation in Thailand is also expensive and can drag on for more than a year on simply issues. There are a number of legal ways to protect your property such as a usufruct registered in Thailand outside of a prenuptial agreement. Below is a brief explanation of the property laws in Thailand when it comes to marriage. Many expats feel that a prenuptial agreement is not needed however the problems arise when they go back to New Zealand or Australia and Thai law is no longer applicable. Property in Thailand in marriage is divided into 2 types of property. ‘Personal Property’ and ‘Community of Property’. Now you might think that it is the same as in the West however it has many twists in definition.
Community of Property (‘Sin Somros’)
- – Any property you bought together during marriage;
- – Property both of you received as a gift or a joint inheritance;
- – Income received from any the private property each holds;
Private Property (‘Sin Suan Tua’)
- – Property you owned before you got married;
- – Property you had inherited or was a gift for you and not as a couple;
- – Personal Property used to generate your income;
- – Your engagement gifts.
When you look at private property then you will note that this is far off from what you would expect under Roman Dutch law. With countries of the Common Wealth using laws originating from the Roman legal system you note that property you owned before the marriage still stays yours after marriage. This is the primary reason why many expats who have retired in Thailand and married don’t worry too much about a prenuptial agreement. This of course changes when you end up back in Australia or New Zealand. Thai law is a hybrid of Roman Dutch law and local indigenous laws.
Personal property is also under private property however the definition does not always fit Australian or New Zealand laws as in the West it is viewed as “Tools of Trade” however the definition in Thailand is a bit more varied and can lead to costly litigation. It is always best to be safe rather than sorry. The prenuptial agreement in the event of a divorce may be a life saver and lower any cost of potential litigation.
Before you get married in Thailand, always speak to an attorney beforehand. also see the post on usufructs in Thailand as well as superficies on this website. Taking legal advice might be a small expense upfront rather than a costly property and litigation problem later.