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Chaninat and Leeds, a full service law firm in Bangkok, specializes in family law and has an expert Thailand divorce lawyer on staff.  This article has been prepared with their kind assistance. 


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Marriage and Divorce in Thailand: When Love Turns Deadly by Mark Beales

4 June 2010

lan Beeston was like many other expats in Thailand.

He came to Asia, fell in love, bought a dream home and imagined spending the rest of his days there wth his new wife.

Tragically for Mr Beeston, he didn’t enjoy his new life for long. His wife plotted to have him stabbed to death so she could enjoy his money with her secret boyfriend.

To many, the fact that Mr Beeston had a Thai wife who was 21 years his junior and wanted his money would come as no surprise. Google ‘Thai brides’ and you’ll find a host of sites with women seeking a foreign husband.
There’s a stereotype that states a foreign/Thai marriage has slim odds for survival. Start in the bedroom and end up in the courtroom, they say. But the divorce rate in the United States is worse than Thailand’s at around 40 per cent, so are the prospects really that much more gloomy for mixed nationality couples in Thailand?
Ian Beeston thought he had everything he wanted. A retired design engineer, he left the UK to find a new life in Thailand. He met a woman named Wacheerawan at a bar in the seaside resort of Pattaya and, despite the age difference, they married.

Mr Beeston brought over 350,000 pounds ($530,000) – his life’s savings – to build a new home in the north-eastern province of Roi Et. Under Thai property law, foreigners are not allowed to own land, so to make things easy he placed everything in his wife’s name.

This proved to be far too much temptation for 42-year-old Wacheerawan. After nine years of marriage, she decided to act. First she went to a bank and sold off all the property he had bought in Thailand.

This included an acre of land on which he had built a guesthouse, restaurant and their own home. Once Mr Beeston realized what she had done, he told his wife to leave their home and stay in a small hut nearby. The new owners were keen to move in but Mr Beeston refused to move out.

Wacheerawan’s boyfriend Somchit Janong came to live with her and they were soon thinking of how to get rid of Mr Beeston. The 69-year-old Brit even predicted his own death to friends. In a letter he had left with his lawyers: ‘I am in real fear for my own life.’

In August 2008 his prophecy came true. Somchit beat Mr Beeston and then stabbed him. It is thought he took up to seven hours to die.

Even more gruesome was the fate of another British citizen, Toby Charnaud. The 42-year-old farmer was also beaten and his body then burned, chopped up and scattered in a national park.

He had divorced his wife and taken her out of his will. Mr Charnaud was living in the seaside resort of Hua Hin. In March 2005, he was brutally murdered by three men his wife had hired. They first tried to shoot him but when gun failed to go off they bludgeoned him to death. His remains were left around Kaeng Krajan National Park.

Mr Charnaud met his wife Pannada Laoruang while on a trip to Thailand. They married in 1997 and lived in Wiltshire, England, for two years before returning to Thailand. In 2000 they had a son and all seemed well. But Laoruang hadn’t told her husband about some major gambling debts, or her affair with a policeman. The couple divorced in 2004 and Laoruang walked away with her child and a one-off payment and allowance. That wasn’t enough though and he was murdered. While the motivation seems to be money, it isn’t clear how she thought she would get any more if her ex-husband were dead. Laoruang and three accomplices were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2006.

Separations don’t always end violently, but they can be abrupt and leave the foreign party completely taken by surprise. A relationship that seemed solid can come crumbling down due to lies and deception.

Secret debt forces wife to flee

One story tells of a man who worked in Europe for half the year, and in the southern island of Phuket with his Thai wife for the remaining months. Unknown to the husband, his wife built up enormous gambling debts by playing cards while he was away. She then borrowed money from loan sharks to repay the debts, and before long the crippling repayment rates were pushing her into even deeper debt. She was forced to sell jewelry and furniture to keep up with the repayments. Eventually she fled the family home and cut all contact with her husband in a bid to escape the debt collectors.

Another tale tells of a wife who was pregnant, which delighted all her family but especially her sister. The sister had lied to a foreign boyfriend that she was also pregnant, and he was subsequently sending her money to cover the medical bills. The boyfriend was suspicious and wanted to see ultrasound scans of the baby. The woman planned to borrow her sister’s scans and pass them off as her own in order to extract more money. However, the foreign husband refused to go along with the scan scam and eventually the overseas boyfriend saw the truth and ended the relationship.

Property is often a reason for disputes and that was the case with one Phuket couple. One day the husband came home to find the house had been stripped bare. He paid a mortgage every month and so could not understand where everything had gone. The bank had a simple explanation: his wife had secretly taken out a second Thailand mortgage with another bank, and not made any of those repayments.

As the truth emerged, things became dramatically worse. The Thai wife needed the extra cash to help with a loan from local gangsters, and had then vanished. The upshot was that the husband was left with a home that was jointly claimed by two banks and a local gang.

While a small percentage of Thai women come from the bars and are focused more on money than love, the vast majority are not. Many marriages in Thailand do last and incidents such as scams and violence are extremely rare. Nevertheless, it’s wise to take precautions before entering any situation where property and finances are involved.

Related Articles:

International Divorce Cases and Prenuptial Agreements

Recent UK Prenuptial Case Decision

Prenuptials and Divorce in Thailand

Thailand Prenuptial Agreements

Considerations for International Prenuptial Agreements

Related Documents:

The Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand

US Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

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