Child Custody in Thailand

Normally during a divorce in Thailand the parents will make an agreement about child custody. This agreement will include visitation rights.

By law the parents are dictated to take care of their children and provide them with physical, emotional and mental support. This is called parental power or authority.

In Thailand, unlike some Western countries, the mother and father of a child do not have equal rights and obligations. For the father to acquire rights over a child he has to legitimize it.

Child Custody Petition

When a married couple is getting divorced in Thailand they can usually come up with an agreement about how custody will be shared as well as visitation times and child support. This can be done in a judicial or administrative divorce.

The mother normally gets full parental powers in Thailand but fathers can apply to get joint custody or even sole custody. However in order for the father to have these rights he needs to be legally recognized as the father by proving legal paternity.

This can be done by bringing a paternity case in court or by presenting DNA evidence. If the paternity is established then a petition for custody can be filed by either parent. If the petition is for a sole custody then very strong and convincing evidence has to be presented to prove that the mother cannot care for the child. This is a very difficult case to win in Thailand.


In Thailand the Family Courts place children’s best interests as a primary policy concern and judges will examine both parents’ behavior and child development issues closely. As with most countries in the world the mother is usually given primary custody.

In legal terms custody is the full control and charge of a person or property. A person may have custody by law, agreement of the parties or by inheritance. Unlike in common law, a Thai legal guardianship can only be obtained by a court of law or a testamentary disposition.

Biological fathers who do not register their children’s legitimation with the local district office may be considered “ghost fathers” and will have no legal rights over a child. This is despite the fact that their name with the qualification of father is mentioned on the child’s birth certificate. It is not unusual for foreign custody orders or judgments to be revoked by the courts in Thailand.

Child Abduction

A Child Abduction is one of the most horrific things that can happen to parents. It is a nightmare scenario that can turn your world upside down in an instant.

Under Thai Law, both the mother and father have equal parental powers unless otherwise stated in court orders or judgments. However, the mother has priority in terms of obtaining custody of the children. It is important for fathers to legitimize their rights to their children.

Normally child abductions occur when one parent takes the child without consent of the other. The best way to handle such cases is by hiring a qualified Thailand Family Law attorney like Juslaws & Consult. We can file complaints with the local legal authorities and with the embassy of the country where the child has been abducted. Alternatively, if Thailand has ratified the Hague Convention on Child Abduction then it may be possible to file claims under that treaty. However, such cases are very complex.

Termination of Parental Rights

The Court in Thailand will determine parental rights based on a combination of factors, including the child’s wishes (if they are old enough to express them) and the relationship between the child and each parent. The court will also consider whether the parent can provide for the child’s physical and emotional needs.

In the case of a father who has a child born out of wedlock, he can petition for his right to be the legal father and receive custody by filing a Child Legitimation case. This is done at the same time as the custody case.

A person exercising parental power has the right to determine the child’s place of residence, implement disciplinary measures, require moderate work from the child and demand the return of the child from any person who unlawfully detains it. However, the law stipulates that misconduct can be a ground for withdrawal of parental powers as set out in Section 1582 of the Civil and Commercial Code.

Joseph Scott
Joseph Scott

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