The Kingdom of Thailand is known for its opulent architecture and the Thai people’s love of ornate ceremony. The Thais perform their wedding ceremonies in no less an ostentatious manner than they perform any other ceremony in Thailand. As a result, weddings in Thailand can be fun-filled events and a marvelous sight to behold.
Oddly, the same attitude is not taken with regard to legalization of a marriage in Thailand. In many cases throughout the Kingdom, marriages are solemnized according to either Buddhist religious rites or by local custom in the Province where the wedding takes place. In many cases, a customary wedding ceremony will not be legally registered per Thai law. Usually, marriage in Thailand requires execution of a legally binding marriage registration at the local Amphur office (Amphur is the Thai word for the office that keeps all of the marital records and name change affidavits, the Amphur office is similar to a clerk of the court in common law countries).
For most Thais, the important factor for a Thai-American couple getting married is the customary or religious ceremony or ritual in which the couple publicly vows to remain committed and together with the village or respective families looking on as witnesses. In general, these rituals are performed by monks from a nearby temple and after blessing the nuptials the monks will pronounce the couple as wedded man and wife.
In cases where those involved do not legally register their marriage the consequences from an American Immigration standpoint are important, this is especially true for those aspiring to get a Green Card for their Thai loved one. However, as odd as it sometimes seems, the fiancée visa is often faster to obtain than the classic marriage visas. Therefore, in some situations a couple will choose to have a marriage celebration in Thailand and wait to have an actual legally binding marriage ceremony in the United States.
Also, where a marriage is not registered in Thailand, there is no recordation of a Thailand prenuptial agreement. In a few very rare cases, Thai courts have awarded unregistered spouses an equitable share of communal or marital assets, but in those situations the couple had been together for many years and had formed an “equitable partnership.” It is often better to arrange a Thai prenuptial agreement while in Thailand because independent legal counsel can be obtained that utilizes Thai staff. This is very advantageous because the Thai language is not commonly spoken outside of Southeast Asia.
(Please note that this text should not be used as a definitive guide to personal legal issues, this text is written to provide information of a general nature. No Attorney/Client bond is generated by the mere act of reading this article.)