Child Custody in Thailand

Child custody is one of the most sensitive issues in a divorce case. Family law in Thailand puts the best interest of the child as the primary policy concern.

The father must legitimize his position as the legal father of the child by registering with the district office and getting the mother’s consent to do so.

Family Courts

In Thailand there are three specialized Courts that handle family cases; the central juvenile and family court, the provincial family courts and the juvenile and family divisions of the district courts. Judges at these Courts are mindful of the ‘best interests of the child’ principal and they apply this to all matters involving children.

The mother of the child is normally given primary custody unless there are extenuating circumstances. If the father wishes to have custody of his child he must petition this together with his legitimation case. In such a case the Court will decide whether or not to grant him partial or whole custody of the child. As with most jurisdictions around the world the best interest of the child is the main consideration in all Court determinations relating to children.

Legitimation of Child

Under Thai law a child’s mother has sole custody of her child. If a father wishes to exercise parental powers over his child he must first legitimize the child. This is a two step process whereby the father must register the child as his legal child by the local district office with the consent of the mother.

For those parents who divorce by mutual consent and have children, the parties may agree in their separation agreement to share or grant full parental powers to one party. However, this does not guarantee that foreign courts will recognise this agreement. This is a particular problem where the non-custodial parent flees back to their home country to avoid paying child support. Consequently, it is important to understand the legality of any custody arrangement.

Joint Custody

When it comes to child custody, Thai courts place the children’s best interests first. They evaluate a variety of factors to determine a suitable custody arrangement. These include the parents’ relationship, their ability to care for the child, and whether either parent has a history of domestic violence.

Fathers in Thailand are able to obtain custody rights if they can prove their legal paternity. This is far different from being the biological father of a child and often takes years to establish.

Custody cases in Thailand are complex affairs. It’s important to have experienced, knowledgeable legal representation on your side. Contact our office to learn more about how we can help with your custody case. We offer free consultations. We speak English and Mandarin.

Sole Custody

The child custody issue is usually settled by a divorce agreement if the parents are married. In cases where the parents are not married, a petition for sole custody can be filed by either parent and the court will decide who has parental authority.

Biological fathers have no legal rights to their children born out of wedlock unless they take action to legitimize the child. For this, the father must marry the mother of the child and register the child as his own. He also needs to submit evidence of his paternity.

In general, a court in Thailand will consider what is best for the child in a custody case. This means focusing on the parents’ ability to care for the child, their emotional and physical well-being and the child’s relationship with each parent.

Termination of Parental Rights

In Thailand child custody is usually decided during a divorce case. In the case of a divorce the court decides the full custody and visitation rights for the children. Child custody can be changed under special circumstances however a petition must be filed by the parent that wants to have the custody change.

In Thai law there are a few different types of custody cases. One is where the mother has sole custody and one is where the father seeks to get joint or partial custody. In the latter case the father needs to legitimize his relationship with the child. This is done by a legal marriage to the mother and proof of paternity. He then has parental rights and a duty to financially support the child.

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