Child Custody in Thailand

Custody is the legal authority and responsibility of a parent over their child. It is typically granted in a divorce or by the courts when parents cannot agree.

A biological father in Thailand must establish legal paternity in order to obtain custody rights for his child. This can be done by marrying the child’s mother, or through a process called legitimization.

Sole Custody

In Thailand, like most countries around the world, Mothers and Fathers have equal rights when it comes to child custody. However, if a child is born outside of marriage the biological father has no legal rights or obligations according to section 1546 of the CCCT.

To gain parental rights a father needs to legitimize his child through a process called ‘child legitimation’ in the court and this is only possible if the mother gives her consent.

The best interests of the child is the main policy concern for the courts in deciding custody cases. Judges analyse the parents behaviour and their ability to raise a child, along with their financial situation. Vices such as alcohol and gambling are often a factor that will not help parents win custody battles, especially if the abuse is directed towards their children. If these vices are present they will likely be ordered to seek treatment and a suitable guardian may be appointed for the child or children until they recover.

Joint Custody

In Thailand, as in most Western countries, both Mother and Father have equal rights and obligations towards a child. In some situations a court may grant one parent sole custody while the other will be granted “parental power”. This parental power can only be exercised by the mother, father or a legal guardian who manages assets given to the child (clause 1686 CCCT).

If the child is born out of marriage, then according to Thai law the biological father can only have custody rights if he files for legitimation with the local district office. The mother must also consent to this process.

Married couples that go through a divorce can come up with their own agreement regarding how they will share the custody of their children and this can include terms for visitation and financial support as well. The main criterion in any child custody case in Thailand is always the best interests of the children involved.

Shared Custody

In Thailand, as in most countries, custody refers to the legal charge and control over an item or property. This is different from the common meaning of the term in English and other Western countries where it refers to a person’s physical ‘guardianship’ of a child.

In a divorce, married parents can make an agreement on how they will share custody. This agreement can also include other issues such as visitation rights, financial support and child welfare. This agreement must be signed by two witnesses and registered at a district office when the divorce is being registered.

For unmarried couples, or for children born out of wedlock, the mother automatically has sole custody until a father obtains his rights through a legitimation process. In cases where a father seeks parental power, the Family Court will appoint an Observation and Protection Center to perform a social study of the couple and the child before ruling on this matter.

International Custody

The word “custody” normally refers to the charge and control that a person has over an item or property, but when it comes to children it encapsulates the full range of rights and responsibilities that parents possess. This encompasses everything from determining where a child will live to making pivotal decisions about their education, health, and moral upbringing.

For married couples, custody and parental authority will be set by their divorce agreement or by the court in a contested divorce case. For unmarried couples, fathers can get custody rights only if they register a legitimation with the local district office and the mother consents to this.

The main criterion for the court to decide on custody is the best interests of the child. This is similar to the standard used by most western countries. However, life can often throw unexpected challenges into this and the custody arrangement will need to be reevaluated with any significant change in circumstances.



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