The Provincial Court in Buriram brokered on Wednesday a deal between a Danish man and his former Thai partner who had denied him any return of the roughly 5 mill. baht, he had invested in a house they had built together and a car, they had bought in her name.
The court ruled, that the Thai woman should transfer the car, a Honda CRV bought for 1.7 mill. baht, to the Dane. The woman had initially claimed, that the car was a gift of affection and so was the house and since it was all in her name and they were not married, he had no right to any of her assets.
That was not how the judge saw it. According to her, the hearing on Tuesday in the court made it clear that the couple had entered a common law marriage and lived together as husband and wife – although not for very long. He had transferred the funds to her bank account in steps that corresponded to the steps in payment for the car and the building phases of the house.
The judge also explained, that since the house was built on land that belonged to the Thai woman’s mother, the only alternative to a compromise would be to tear down the house and sell the used building material and sell the car and split the money – since the Danish man was entitled to 50 percent of the shared assets of the relationship. That would give him half of approximately 900.000 baht.
The judge made no room for doubt that if the Thai woman should decide not to accept her suggestion, then she would rule in favour of the Danish man. Leaving the car to him and keep the house was a better alternative for both, she proposed.
It took the accused – the former partner – surprisingly long tome to make up her mind if she preferred to continue to fight for her claim, that it was all a gift, or accept the deal offered. Eventually, she declared in tears that if the Dane would not come back and live with her, which she had hoped for, then it was OK that he got the car.
The courts ruling – which was brokered into a deal before it actually became a ruling – is a significant break from the popular belief among both Thai women and foreigners in Thailand, that if the marriage has not been properly registered, then the Thai woman can walk away as the owner all of the couple’s assets registered in her name in case the relationship should break up.
The relationship started in December 2018, when the Danish man visited Thailand for the first time after his wife had passed away. He met the Thai woman in Hua Hin, which he visited together with another Danish man and his Thai wife. She was working in a bar there and he liked her. After a few days of seeing her every day, he bought her out of the bar for a full week and together they went to Kanchanaburi where his friend went up to play golf.
After that, he went back to Denmark only to return a month and a half later. This time, his girlfriend took him up to see her mother in Buriram and he stayed for a full three months.
Between the spring of 2019 and February 2020 when the relationship ended, the Danish man transferred a total of 5,7 mill Baht from his bank account to hers in the belief, that they would live together similar to what he saw his friend did with his Thai wife. The car cost 1.7 mill baht. The house around 3 mill. baht. To keep her from going back to the bar to work, he sent her 25.000 baht every month. And then there was the debt of the Thai woman’s mother of 200.000 baht, which he also agreed to help pay.
The bank statements left no doubt of the amount of money, but the Thai woman’s lawyer insisted, it was paid as a gift of affection even the court was presented with evidence of the payments of expenses which correlated to the money transferred.
The breakup happened in the wake of a lavish house warming party which the Danish man had questioned the necessity of. The party lasted a day, included a stage with live music and female dancers and was attended by around 250 – 300 guests. In the following days he was given the cold shoulder. Then he noticed that all the leftover building material was being moved over to his wife’s mothers house and used to build a wall there. When he asked who paid for that, the thin ice broke. He was told he could just move out because this was her house. And he could not take the car as it was her car.
At first he called his friend who lived around 50 km away and asked if he could come and stay with them for a few day. They helped him with practical details and drove him to the provincial police to formerly register a complaint against the Thai woman.
The first court case, which the lawyer of his friend and his wife raised for him, was to claim the car as his. When the lawyer of the woman denied him that, the Danish man’s lawyer withdrew the case and started a new case claiming full separation of the home, asking for 50 percent of the 5.7 mill. Baht the Dane had transferred over time, plus interest since the breakup.
Winning that case could set a significant precedence for similar cases where the judge accepts that the intention of the paying foreigner was to live together as husband and wife with the Thai person and therefore could reasonably claim to have been cheated into buying the shared assets and register them in the name of the Thai national.