Thailand child custody issue always arises when spouses having children are divorcing or when spouses decide to live separately. Additionally, the child custody is often an issue for an unmarried couple who has children born out of marriage.
What are the Custodial Rights Under Thai Law?
Under the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand (CCCT), the term of the rights of custody is called “parental power”. The parental power is exercised by the father, the mother, or a third person who is a legal guardian of the child until the child reaches the legal age (20 years old), and a person exercising parental power has the right as follows:
- To determine the child’s place of residence
- To discipline the child reasonably
- To require the child to work, consistent with his or her abilities and status
- To demand the return of the child from someone else, including another parent who does not have custody rights and unlawfully detains the child
- To manage the property of the child with the restriction that selling, mortgaging, and exchange the property of the minor child must obtain the approval of the court
Child custody in Thailand can be obtained by two procedures as follows:
- By the mutual consent of the parties
- By the decision of the court
Two Procedures for Obtaining The Child Custody in Thailand
Child custody agreed by Mutual consent:
Thailand Child custody for married spouses:
If the parent’s divorce in Thailand by mutual consent or the uncontested divorce, and the divorce has the child custody in Thailand involves the parents can enter into a divorce agreement concerning how the custody shall be shared between them. In addition, the agreement can also include the visitation of the child and the child support. However, in order for the agreement on the child custody to be valid, it has to be signed by two witnesses and registered with the district office at the time of registering the divorce.
Thailand child custody for an unmarried couple:
If the unmarried couple has a child born out of the marriage, the mother of the child only has the sole custody over the child. However, prior to considering whether the father should exercise the custody rights over the child, the child must be registered as a legitimate child of the father first. To legitimize a child, the father has to register a legitimation of the child in Thailand with the local district office. If the mother and the child consent to such legitimation; then the registration allows the father to have the joint custody or sole custody over the child upon the agreement between the father and the mother of the child.
Child custody decided by the court:
Child custody in Thailand for a married spouse:
If divorce is granted by the court’s judgment or contested divorce, the judge in the divorce case will decide who should be granted the child custody; otherwise, the judge can appoint a third person as a guardian in place of parents if such order is for the happiness and interest of the child. Nevertheless, the judge can also, at the time of divorce or later, takes away the custody if a parent given the rights of custody is incompetent, misconduct, or has abused his or her parental power. Either a parent without custody or the public prosecutor on the child’s behalf can file a petition to change the custody at any time.
Child custody in Thailand for an unmarried couple:
If the father of the child born out of the marriage files a legitimation of child in Thailand, the custody issue can be petitioned together with the legitimation case. The court in the same case will decide whether the father is suitable to exercise the partial or whole custody over the child.