Thailand Marriage and Divorce: Thai Dream or Foreigner’s Nightmare?
While a small percentage of Thai women working at the bars are focused more on money than love, the vast majority are not. Although some Thai-foreign marriages end up in divorce, many marriages in Thailand do last. However, it’s wise to take necessary precautions before entering any situation where property and finances are involved as there are also cases of scams and violence where love can turn deadly.
South African dad shot dead in child custody clash with Thai ex-wife
Take the case of South African Oswald Heinrich Duvel who had been involved in an ongoing custody battle in Thai courts with his estrange Thai wife.
Duvel was invited by his ex-wife to sit in her car with her mother to discuss a custody agreement, but unbeknownst to Duvel, there was a man lying behind the back seat. As they discussed custody matters, the man shot Duvel on the head.
Duvel, who was 50 at the time of his death in October 2012, was found next to a partially completed grave in the foothills of Saraburi province, north of Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok. Duvel was wearing only his underpants and a wristwatch.
Duvel’s estranged wife eventually confessed to the murder and police reports described the gun man as the “new husband”. Various Thai media reports have described him as being the ex- wife’s brother, half-brother or adopted brother, however.
Brit murdered after predicting his Thai wife would kill him
Ian Beeston thought he had everything he wanted. A retired design engineer, he left the UK to find a new existence in Thailand. He met a young woman named Wacheerawan at a beer bar in the seaside resort of Pattaya and, despite the age difference, they married.
He came to Asia, fell in love, bought a dream home and imagined spending the rest of his days there with his new wife.
Tragically for 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 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 is a stereotype that states a foreign/Thai marriage has slim odds for survival. Start in the bedroom and end up in the courtroom. 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?
Beeston brought over 350,000 pounds (530,000 USD) – 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.
Chaninat & Leeds is a full service law firm in Bangkok specializing in Thailand family law and has Thailand Divorce Lawyer on staff. This article has been prepared with their kind assistance
Apparently, this was 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 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 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.
Brit killed and barbecued after split with Thai wife
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. 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 KaengKrajanNational Park.
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 to be going 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.