Marrying a Thai National
By: Magna Carta Law Office
Marriage Dowry is still an integral part of modern Thai marriage customs and is considered absolutely normal. Foreign nationals intending to marry a Thai woman are also expected to honor the Thai Dowry System. Traditionally, the groom will be expected to pay a dowry or sinsod to the family, to show gratitude and to compensate them in exchange of the hands of their daughter and to prove that the groom is financially capable of taking care and supporting their daughter.
There are many factors that determine how much the sinsod will be and they include the man’s wealth, the value of the woman which is based on her background, her age, dependents, previous marital status, education level, job, and the status of her family in the community.
Thai marriages can be solemnized with or without an engagement or a Betrothal Ceremony in ritual manner or through court. This is when the couple formally introduces themselves to each other’s family and the announcement of the terms of the dowry and the wedding date takes place. Betrothal is not valid until the man gives an engagement property to the woman called “Khongman” which shall be the property of the woman after the betrothal has taken place.
Conditions for entering into betrothal and marriage agreement
Both parties must be at least 17 years of age
Neither party is mentally incapacitated
Both parties are not in blood relations by direct ascendant or descendant line
Both do not have the same adoptive parents
Must not be the same sex
Neither party has a spouse at the time of the marriage
If the woman is a widow or is divorced, the marriage can only take place after expiry of 310 days from her husband’s death or termination of the marriage. The exceptions are when:
A child was born during this time;
The divorced couple are re-marrying;
There is a court order allowing the woman to marry;
There is a certificate from a doctor in a Thai hospital to state that the woman is not pregnant.
After the betrothal has taken place, if either party commits a breach of the betrothal agreement, such party shall be liable to make compensation.
In case the woman commits a breach of the betrothal agreement or where there is an essential event happening to the betrothed woman that makes the marriage to the woman unsuitable, the man is entitled to renounce the betrothal agreement and the woman shall return the Khongman to the man.
In case where there is an essential event happening to the betrothed man that makes marriage to the man unsuitable, the woman is entitled to renounce the betrothal agreement and the Khongman need not to be returned to the man.
If the marriage does not take place causing mainly from the woman or on account of any circumstances that makes the woman responsible for making the marriage unsuitable for the man or for making the man unable to marry that woman, the man may claim the return of the Sinsod.