U.S. Prenuptial Agreements in Thailand: Why Thai Law is Important

by Thailand Lawyer on July 27, 2011

As more and more couples are getting married abroad and returning home to the United States, internationally signed prenuptial agreements (agreements that are signed in a foreign country) are becoming a hot button issue. Couples who sign a prenuptial agreement abroad expect that that agreement will be enforced in the United States as well. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. The U.S. law on this issue is murky. Some state courts will actually apply the laws of the foreign country where the couple signed the agreement to their prenuptial agreement. This can lead to an invalidation of a prenuptial agreement that would have been valid in the United States. This can catch couples off guard and without adequate protection for their assets. Other state courts will invalidate an international prenuptial agreement by applying the state’s laws. The foreign country’s laws have a great deal of power over a couple’s international prenuptial agreement even within U.S. courts. Therefore, couples getting married or signing a prenuptial agreement in Thailand should be concerned with following Thailand’s laws.

In Black v. Powers, a Virginia court validated an international prenuptial agreement that was invalid under Virginia law. The couple was married and signed the prenuptial agreement in the Virgin Islands. The court decided to apply Virgin Islands’ laws instead of Virginia’s because the couple signed the agreement in the Virgin Islands. The court reasoned because the agreement was valid under the Virgin Islands law, it was valid in the Virginia court. In this way, the court’s application of a foreign nation’s law actually validated an otherwise invalid prenuptial agreement.

In Chaundry v Chaundy, a New Jersey court invalidated an international prenuptial agreement that would have been valid in New Jersey. The agreement provided for alimony and was signed while the couple was in Pakistan. Under Pakistan law, a prenuptial agreement which includes alimony is void. The court applied Pakistan’s law and refused to enforce the couple’s agreement. The court then held the agreement invalid and instead allocated the property according to Pakistan law.

The importance of these cases is that the law of the country where the couple signed the agreement or where the marriage took place is very important. If a couple married in Thailand does not follow Thailand’s prenuptial agreement laws, they may very well be left with an unenforceable, invalid prenuptial agreement. Whether the U.S. court will choose to apply the foreign nation’s laws is unpredictable. US couples getting married in Thailand should seek a Thailand prenuptial agreement attorney that is familiar with both the United States laws as well as Thailand’s laws for prenuptial agreements. Counsel should particularly have experience in the area of international prenuptial agreements.

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