Property rights and divorce would not be the same as it is in the US. There are a number of differences and you need to speak to a family lawyer in Thailand about these. Some Americans think that they do not need a prenuptial agreement while in Thailand however it is always best to ensure that you have a prenuptial as you might move back to the US again later.  Always consult a family lawyer in Thailand when getting married. Below is a brief overview of property rights in Thailand.

Property Rights

Property RightsUsufruct

If you bought the property and registered the property in the name of your wife then you had the option of registering a usufruct over the property. The usufruct would allow you to live on the property until you died. In the event of a divorce, even if the property is not in your name nobody will buy it with a usufruct registered over it. This gives you leverage in a divorce but in the event of your wife dying the usufruct will still be over the property and allow you to live there.

Superficies

Many buy the land in the name of their Thai wife which is the way the law in Thailand works as foreigners may not own land. They then register a superficies over the property being the house built on the land. The land now belongs to your wife while the actual house belong to you. Outside of a usufruct this is another way to secure you property in Thailand. In the end of a divorce again this is useful in negotiating a settlement as she has to sell the house and you have to remove the superficies. Speak to a lawyer in Thailand about protecting your property in the event of death or divorce.

Property Law in Thailand

It is well known that any land bought in Thailand being either a house, villa or such as land or a house cannot be held jointly by you and your Thai wife. Note again that land bought during marriage cannot be part of the marital assets (Sin Somros) but personal assets (Sin Suan Tua) as defined by Section 1471 and 1472 of the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand. This separation will occur at the Land Office in Thailand where the land will be registered in your wife’s name and then you will have to sign a document confirming that the land or property belongs to your Thai wife and is not a joint marital asset but a personal asset.

Issues that do occur

You wife will hold the land and she might register a mortgage bond over the property. This might create issues later if you did not know. The usufruct will still be in force and so will the superficies. Where this does create problems is where you wife runs up debts against the property in her name and these include gambling debt. One of the biggest problems in Thailand for many years has been people giving the title deed to the properties to gambling debts. These are not the type of people who runs banks and the threat of violence is always there.

Always speak to a family lawyer before you get married and you might not be the exception in Thailand when things go really wrong. Always consider your property rights in Thailand.

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