The Teerak Prenup
She traveled half way around the world to be with me. She gave up a job, said goodbye to friends and family and knowingly accepted a very long absence from her beloved two-year old. I was the only person she knew in the entire western hemisphere. By comparison she took a bigger risk than me. She did this on the promise I would marry her assuming we got along well. I pride myself on being a man of my word. Despite some challenging moments in the relationship (as all relations have regardless of cultures) I agreed to marry her, but first I needed her to agree to a prenuptial agreement and that is where this story beings.
Drawing on my life experiences I fully understood I was taking a risk remarrying. I was determined to manage the risk. She is beautiful, much younger, exotic, speaks basic English well, has a university degree and I think most importantly we were properly introduced (i.e. we did not meet in a bar or via the internet). The prospect of getting married again brought forth in me a nagging dichotomy, that being at one level of my personality I really do want to trust people, but on another I find it very difficult to do so beyond arm’s length. I do trust her, but…! For my own peace of mind I needed two things prior to marrying. I needed her to demonstrate she was genuinely here, because she wanted to be with me and not solely for financial reasons (virtually all sane women consider their financial well being when sizing up a man for marriage). Secondly, I needed some insurance should things ever go south in the future allowing me to exit the marriage with very little financial loss.
I know a bit about the law and like many of you I regrettably have a divorce in my past. I spoke to my attorney buddy and he stated for any prenuptial agreement to have a chance of surviving later legal challenges it was essential that my then fiancée
have her own legal counsel go over the prenup with her prior to her signing. Additionally, since she was not fluent in English, it was also essential she be given a Thai translation of the prenup.
Finding a Thai English prenup
I contacted one of the large well known law firms in Bangkok (you’ve seen their advert) asking if they could provide a basic prenup in both languages. They advised they would not and instead offered to provide their full legal service of not just the prenup, but also having their bilingual legal staff go over the document with my fiancée. I did not doubt the ability or professionalism of the law firm, but I did find the $US 2,500 price to be far more legal representation than I needed. If I were a wealthy man with many assets then perhaps the law firm’s offer would be a good choice. To me, an average guy with the usual assets, a basic prenup would suffice. I knew I could generate the desired document myself at a fraction of the price.
I surfed the internet and was surprised I could not find such a bilingual document. There are many prenups in English, but none in both languages. So I obtained a good quality prenup from my attorney buddy and set to work adapting it to my purposes. The document he gave me was long and was intended to cover absolutely all scenarios. Many parts of the document did not pertain to my situation so they were edited out. The real work was the dumbing down of the language to convert the legal terms into plain English so the document could then be safely translated into Thai. For example, I changed terms like “real estate” to “house and land”. After reworking the original English version of the prenup I had it reviewed by an attorney I know who said he thought it was well done and would do the job. I then sought to have it translated into Thai.
I searched the internet for a suitable translation company. There are many charging a wide variety of rates for their services. I did not want the lowest cost service since in all things you get what you pay for. I needed the prenup properly translated into Thai and proof read by both native English and Thai speakers. Not all companies can do this. I found a company called Thai English Translation Service ( www.ThaiEnglish.com). I used them, because they have both native English and native Thai speakers on staff and they routinely deal with business and legal type documents. The company is also closely associated with another company whose services I used in the past and found to be professional. Their rate was competitive and the translation was done.
I sat down with my teeruk and discussed the prenup with her. I explained the agreement telling her that whatever assets are mine now will remain mine in the event of divorce and whatever assets are hers will remain hers. She has no assets now, but I explained
that in the future she will have money and assets and I would not have any claim to them and she would not have claim to any of my future assets acquired separately. Those assets we hold jointly would be split. She readily agreed with the concept,
thought it was fair and stated she had no designs on my assets. She read over the Thai version of the prenup. Since she has no background in law she did not understand all the clauses, but did grasp the overall concept. I told her she would need
to first sit down with an attorney prior to her signing. She stated she did not want to see an attorney and would be happy to sign now. She just wanted to just get it over with.
Finding an attorney
My attorney could not go over the prenup with her as it would be a conflict of interest. So I called a few local attorneys to see if they could sit down with her and go over the 6 page document. It would have been less than an hour’s work. The prices I was quoted were $1500 by one and another wanted $750. No wonder people hate lawyers. I found a female attorney who wanted $500 so made the appointment.
I knew of the female attorney. She had previously been a local prosecutor and started her own private practice. She was a divorced mother of two. She had a great body and a marginal face. I emailed her the prenup a few days earlier. My teeruk and I walked into her law office on the appointed day and exchanged pleasantries. When the lady attorney shook my hand she rotated her hand such that it cupped over the top on my hand and her fingers tips rested inside my palm. It was an incomplete hand shake and a rather rude one. I did not know if this was accidental or was she trying to assert some kind of dominance. Was this something she learned in law school? If a man gave another man such a hand shake there would be great offense taken.
Teeruk and the lady attorney then disappeared into a back office whilst I sat in the waiting room. I could not hear what was being said, but I did hear the attorney’s raised voice speaking in a very earnest tone. After about 20 minutes they re-emerged. Teeruk looked very uncomfortable. The lady attorney stated she needed me to obtain a Thai translator before she could “represent” my fiancée. The purpose of the meeting was not for the attorney to “represent” teeruk, but merely to go over the document. Teeruk and I departed with the lady attorney again giving me the same rude handshake. Once home teeruk’s entire demeanor changed. She was sad and confused. Teeruk stated the lady attorney derided me and the prenup agreement declaring I could kick teeruk out onto the streets and she would have nothing. The attorney declared the document only protected me. Interestingly the attorney failed to point out that the prenup equally protected teeruk’s assets in the future. The attorney forbad teeruk to sign the prenp. And so, after teeruk’s first encounter with an empowered woman of the western world, I was in for an evening of great consternation.
Teeruk stated she did not know what to do and needed time to think. I again attempted to explain the prenup to her much to my frustration. She then logged onto a Thai language web forum for Thai women coming to or living in Farangland. Teeruk asked her online sisters what she should do. In quick order she received a fair number of replies. Some of the ladies were cautious and neutral in their opinions, but most told teeruk I was a no good, selfish bastard for wanting a prenup. They told her I did not love her and she should not marry such a jai dam man <literally "black-hearted", but perhaps best translated as "cold-hearted" – Stick>. These women were of the opinion they could fly to Farangland, hop off a plane and magically be entitled to a man’s assets.
The conversation between she and I was very strained and came to the point where she asked me straight out if I would marry her if she did not sign the prenup. I hate giving or receiving ultimatums, but the fact had to be stated. I told her calmly “no” I would not marry without the prenup. Tension between us was high and further conversation that night was pointless so I went to bed. After a while she came into the room very upset and told me she would marry me, but not take my name. I told her I was tired, did not want to argue and that we could discuss it more the next day. We slept apart that night.
In the morning I got up alone and checked my email before going to work. I found the following email she sent to me the night before.
I want to marry someone who love me and make new family together. If I marry you I be your wife in paper only and I don’t have right of wife. I think I not marry better and if you do this document don’t have other lady want to marry you also. Everything protect your life, but for me zero. If you not satisfy me you can drive out me all the time if you want and you do like I am others for your family. You fear I come for take you money ok. I will stop you family problem. I will not marry you if you worry about your property. This document insult the poor people. This document for who selfish. Please give it for the lady who want to marry with paper. For me I don’t need for you think in a future I will change and take your money. For me also I think you will drive out me if you want. Other spouse they have prenuptial agreement but fairly and both agree, but for me don’t have stability. I give all my life for you. I think you need to take care me, but I think wrong. If my husband he don’t have house, don’t have car, but he has wife position for me I will happy. I don’t need big house. I need one room for stay and see you all the time. I want to see when you sleep. I want to see when you wake up. You determine by your brains and think to the future, but I determine by my heart and think about today. Today I see you angry about I not sign for you. Make I sad why my love he love property more than me. Don’t worry I don’t need to be your problem. I did not think a man I saw today he is my husband heartless. Keep and protect your property. Forever I will go.
After reading the email I let out a long slow exhale and accepted the situation for what it was. I took a great gamble attempting a courtship like ours. I had only myself to blame. I should have known better than to think a union like ours could be possible. I did not reply to her email. I went to work without seeing her or saying a word.
When I returned home that night I found her sequestered in the guest room. I entered and politely said hello. I calmly told her I had read her email. I said it was okay, no problem and that I understood. I thanked her for coming to visit me in Farangland. I said her mom could keep the sin sot. I informed her I would be taking her to the airport in the morning and presented her with a large travel bag on wheels that would fit all her stuff. I then turned to leave the room.
When I reached the door she said she wanted to talk. I stopped, turned and gazed into her eyes without speaking a word. She asked “Do you want me to stay?”. I understood the statement for what it was intended to do and that was to place the onus on me. I knew she wanted me to get down on one knee, profess my love and beg her to stay. FUCK THAT! Not after her email to me. I’ve never once asked a woman to stay with me even though there have been a few times I wanted to. If someone does not want to be with me, I don’t want them to be with me either. I’d rather be alone and maintain some small piece of my dignity.
I told her it was not up to me, but instead up to her to decide, thus placing the decision squarely on her. She stated she wanted to stay and would sign the prenup. She informed me she had called her mother in LOS that day seeking advice and amazingly her mom sided entirely with me! Her mother said it was obvious that I wanted a prenup. Her mother lamented she had not done a prenup herself prior to her current loveless marriage to Teeruk’s stepfather. It seems paying the sin sot was yielding dividends. Teeruk stated all the advice she received from the attorney and the online gang had made her crazy and if she had called her mom in the first place the entire argument could have been avoided. The prenup was then signed, properly notarized and the issued settled. We are now married and happy.
Here is the punch line. I really did not need a prenup in the first place and I knew it from the very start. You see, where I live in Farangland the divorce laws are far more merciful to men than other places. Where I live all the assets owned by a man prior to marriage are 100% his if he remarries and later divorces regardless of how long the marriage lasts. Prior to meeting teeruk I already owned my house, earned my pension, etc. She would have no claim to them in the future even without a prenup. Additionally, all assets acquired separately and accounts held separately in the future would also be solely mine. The only thing she could go after is 50% of what ever increase in the equity in my house during the marriage.
So you ask why I went through all the trouble over a prenup I really did not need? Deeds speak louder than words and I needed her to demonstrate her sincerity by agreeing to the prenup. The prenup was far more symbolic to me than a necessity.
We’re married now and all is going well. I feel much more comfortable about the future and my decision to marry. The female attorney has since failed in private practice and closed her office. I’m happy to report I did not pay her any money since she did not officially “represent” my current wife. However, the consultation with her does meet the legal standard since teeruk did have independent legal advice prior to signing. I saved the lady attorney’s business card and the email correspondence between her and myself documenting the time and nature of the appointment with my wife. Soooooo good news, I got a freebee out of it after all that horse shit.
Note: If any of you are in need of an English / Thai prenuptial agreement just send me an email and I will share both documents with you free of charge. All you will need to do is insert your specific information into the appropriate blanks.
Don’t say I never gave you anything.
It's nice to hear from someone who is principled, who has backbone, a man who puts his pride and dignity first. It's not something you see so much these days and I know many people here in Thailand – MANY – who claim they are in a great marriage yet all I see is a weak man suffering at the hands of a wife he doesn't know how to deal with and / or is too weak to deal with.
A man should be a man while at the same time remaining fair and being decent himself. I don't see how what you proposed wasn't fair. An equitable split of assets accrued after the registration of marriage seems fair to me in the case of you parting ways. You know what the funny thing is? That's EXACTLY how divorce law works in Thailand!