Child Custody in Thailand

Child custody is a sensitive issue that must be dealt with carefully. A qualified lawyer is necessary to ensure that your rights as a parent are protected and that the best interests of the child are served.

In Thailand, biological fathers do not have custody rights as they would in some Western countries. They must first have their legal paternity ruling recognized through a process known as legitimization.

Sole Custody

Under Thai law, if parents are married and the father has not established filiation with the child, the mother holds full parental authority and custody rights. This arrangement can only be changed in the context of a divorce.

However, the fathers of children born to unmarried mothers can seek custody rights. To do so, the father needs to establish legal paternity of the child and be recognized as the father of the child by the court. This can be done by marriage to the birth mother or by registering legal paternity.

The main consideration for courts in deciding child custody cases is what is in the best interest of the children. This is the same standard used in most Western countries. Gender is not usually a factor in these decisions but issues such as alcoholism and gambling, which are often linked to domestic abuse in Thailand, can impact upon a case. A parent’s inability to care for their children may also be a factor.

Joint Custody

The issue of child custody is a crucial one for families that decide to separate or divorce. Child custody arrangements can be sole or joint, and either parent may petition the court to change custody.

Thai courts are inherently child-centric and prioritize the child’s well-being. They consider the child’s perspective, environmental stability, and parental proficiencies when making decisions regarding custody.

Under the current Thailand law, full parental power vests in a mother. Unless the father has established filiation with the child through marriage, he is not able to obtain custody under Section 1566 of CCC. This arrangement differs from other countries such as the United States where the father has rights and responsibilities similar to that of the mother. In this situation the father should seek legal advice to ensure his rights are protected. He may also wish to consider a paternity test. In order to prove paternity the father must marry the mother and register the child under his name.

Child Abduction

In cases of international child abduction, which is more common than you might think, one parent takes the child from another country without the other parent’s knowledge or consent. This is a very complex case which can involve elements of criminal law.

In such a case, the parents must first establish their legal custody rights through the Thai Family Courts. Then they can file a civil claim to the Central Authority in Thailand asking for the child to be returned to their country of habitual residence.

Our lawyers are experienced in handling such a case, and we work closely with authorities in other countries to retrieve children. We are also well versed in the elements of criminal law that may be involved in such a case, so we can help you navigate this complicated area.

Termination of Parental Rights

Generally, a mother has a far better chance of obtaining primary custody of the children when there is no father in the picture. This is partly due to the fact that a father’s income, lifestyle and status in society are not usually affected by divorce; he can simply remarry and take the kids with him into his new family.

In Thailand a father has no legal rights at all over a child unless he is legally recognised as the child’s father through a process called legitimation. This can be done by applying for paternity recognition with the help of a local district office.

Both parents are dictated by law to provide financial, emotional and psychological support for their children. However, if the non-custodial parent of a child flees to a foreign country in order to avoid paying child support, it is often difficult for the Thai court to force them to comply with a court judgement and orders.

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