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What is betrothal?
Betrothal is an engagement or a mutual promise or contract for a future marriage. A betrothal takes effect only when the man and the woman have completed their seventeenth year of age. However, if a minor will conclude a betrothal, he or she should get consent from any of the following:
1. Parents, if both the father and mother are still alive;
2. Parent, if the father or mother died, or is unable to give consent, or is under the circumstances wherein the minor is unable to ask for such consent;
3. Adopter, if the minor is adopted;
4. Guardian, if there is no person giving consent under (1), (2) and (3), or such person is deprived of parental power.
Betrothal is not valid until the man gives the property called “khongman,” which shall be the property of the woman after the betrothal has taken place.
Is a marriage dowry (sinsod) still a part of the marriage in Thailand as Thai custom?
Marriage dowry is still an integral part of modern Thai marriage customs and is absolutely normal. Traditionally, the groom will be expected to pay a dowry or sinsod to the family, to compensate them in exchange of the hands of their daughter and to demonstrate that the groom is financially capable of taking care of and supporting their daughter.
What happens to the dowries if either party breaches the betrothal agreement?
After the betrothal has taken place, if either party commits a breach of the betrothal agreement, such party shall be liable to make compensation.
If 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 can renounce the betrothal agreement and the woman shall return the khongman to the man. In the case where there is an essential event happening to the betrothed man that makes marriage unsuitable, the woman can renounce the betrothal agreement and the woman must return the khongman to the man.
If the marriage in Thailand does not take place caused mainly by 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.
Compensation may be claimed as follows:
1. for injury caused to the body or reputation of the man or woman;
2. for appropriate expenses or debt incurred in good faith by the betrothed, his or her parents, or a person acting in the capacity of his or her parents in preparation for the marriage;
3. for the damage suffered by the man or woman through having taken appropriate measures affecting his or her property or other affairs on his or her occupation or earning in expectation of the marriage.
In case where the woman can claim a compensation, the court may decide that the khongman which has become her property is the whole or a part of compensation she will receive, or the court may order payment of compensation without regard to the khongman that has become the property of the woman.
What are the conditions for entering into a betrothal and marriage agreement?
1. Both parties must be at least 17 years of age. otherwise, a court order would be needed.
2. Neither party is insane.
3. The parties are not blood relatives by direct ascendant or descendant line
4. Both do not have the same adoptive parents.
5. Neither party has a spouse at the time of the marriage.
If the woman is a widow or divorced, the marriage in Thailand can only take place after expiry of 310 days from her husband’s death or termination of the marriage. The exceptions are when:
1. A child was born during this time;
2. The divorced couple are remarrying;
3. There is a court order allowing the woman to marry;
4. There is a certificate from a doctor in a Thai hospital affirming that the woman is not pregnant.
What are the legal requirements for marriage in Thailand to take place?
Documents required from foreign nationals marrying another foreign national or a Thai citizen are:
• Passport, including copies of entry visa
• Original and certified translation of authenticated affirmation of freedom to marry
• Original death certificate or original divorce certificate (if there was an earlier marriage) together with its certified Thai translation
Documents required from Thai nationals at the local district office are:
• Citizen identification card
• House registration document