Stickman Readers' Submissions April 19th, 2006

The PN

By The Rock

*** I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice! ***

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I have found most of these submissions quite interesting, some amusing, some pathetic, some a waste of time (you can tell in the first paragraph if the remainder is worth reading). Having been to Thailand many times myself over 20 years and having property near a beach (no, not that one), it’s about time I wrote to hopefully, just maybe, help one guy (yes, this is directed at males).

In the 1980s a few years after finishing engineering school and leaving the frozen arctic, I went to work temporarily in Thailand, hitting all the hot spots where you meet all the hot women; you know, Si Racha, Laem Chabang, Ban Map Tha Put, etc. Funnily enough, I married one of these women. . . . Thailand today is nothing like it was in 1984. But the beauty of women was the same although the attitude was different because there was significantly less western influence.

Many of the recent posts have focused on the trials and tribulations of relationships; mine will focus on the marriage piece. Of all I hear, and my own experience, the 3 most important things you can do before getting married is 1) sign a pre-nuptial (PN) agreement, 2) sign a pre-nuptial agreement, and 3) sign a pre-nuptial agreement. If you are marrying a Thai woman (actually any woman) and she will not sign a PN, leave. No negotiation, just leave.

Signing a PN, especially if you earn significantly more that the woman, is critical. If you do it right, even though the property in Thailand is in your wife’s name, you would get essentially all the proceeds if the marriage ends. Why? Because you paid for it! The important issue is that the PN must contain language that divides property based on the “direct” (meaning money) financial contributions made by each party.

One other key point is to have the PN signed at the same time in the presence of her lawyer. Both you and she should have legal representation. Your lawyer does not have to be present, but you should sign at the same time.

What has been interesting to watch is how courts are interpreting PNs. In Canada, if a woman has legal representation and signs a PN the courts will uphold the agreement. I have been amazed at the consistent interpretation even female judges have been making. In talking with friends there, it is apparent that female judges find women who come back to complain about a PN which they signed with legal representation, and cry that it should be set aside, are an insult to the female gender’s intelligence! What a strange turn of events. Some friends of mine did not have their CPP pension earnings included in the PN and they had to give up ½ of their pension; as meager as it is in Canada – now it is half.

In the USA, I personally feel like this is an “it depends”. Community Property (CP) states are different than Equitable Distribution (ED) (ha! that’s a big joke!) states; and I would not want to have to get divorced in an ED State. The best situation if you have to get divorced is to live in a CP State and have a rock-solid PN. One problem can occur if you acquire something in an ED state. The only way to protect yourself is to have the PN.

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One thing you could do if you are American is to write the PN based on what will “stick” in your State and then get married in that same State. You have better protection. Do not get married in Thailand!!!

Some have written about “no-fault” states. Each state has some kind of no-fault provision, but this can be a double-edged sword. Yet, this is not nearly as important as have the PN and being in a CP State.

Clearly there are places in the world that still feel a woman must be protected from herself. England is one of these places. I would never live there and would encourage others if you are married to leave there until your children are grown and even then I still would not live there. The courts there ignore PNs. It is very unclear to me why this is, but it was such a problem in the 1980s that I just wouldn’t take the chance. If the EU ever gets coordinated on this issue, and, if the UK ever completely joins the EU then this issue may go away. BUT be aware!

I agree with others who say that sin sot should only be paid (loaned?) if it is returned to the woman. And yes, you can write this into the PN so you essentially get “credit” for it.

With all that goes on in the world today, a PN is the most important document you can own; in fact the PN is the top 3 documents you can own all in one! For me, it’s 20 great years and counting, only 1 child still at home; that will be a change! But I know I will never have my earnings taken from me and that is worth a lot in peace of mind. And if you asked my better half, she would say I am romantic; I know, hard to believe!

Good luck to all!

Stickman's thoughts:

It is interesting why you feel that someone should not get married in Thailand. In Thailand, divorce laws are very clear and favour the man heavily, especially so I the case of a Western man / Thai woman marriage. There is no such thing as a no fault divorce here. If one party doesn't want to divorce, then there is not much the other party can do! The closest thing under Thai law is living apart for three years after which time one party can start divorce proceedings on the grounds of abandonment. Put it this way – and I am being harsh here – if a Western man marries a Thai woman and lives with her in Thailand, and does not take her to his own country, he can pretty much walk away and there is little she could do. I mean, if she even wants to get a visa to his country to go and divorce him there, it will be difficult without his support. To divorce him in hi own country, she would ordinarily need to be resident there. How can she become resident there without his support?

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