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Child custody law

Child custody issues in Thailand always arise when spouses with children divorce or when spouses decide to live apart. In addition, child custody is often a problem for unmarried couples with children born out of wedlock.

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Child Custody Law in Thailand

Custody rights in Thai law

According to the Civil and Commercial Code of Thailand (CCCT), the term "custody" refers to "parental authority." The father, mother exercise parental authority, or a third person who is the legal guardian of the child until the child reaches the age of majority (20 years), and the person exercising parental authority is entitled to the following:

  1. Determine the child's place of residence
  2. Discipline the child
  3. Require the child to work according to their ability and status
  4. Require the return of the child from someone else, including the other parent who has no custody rights and unlawfully detains the child
  5. Manage the property of the child with the restriction that the sale, pledge, and the court must authorize the exchange of the property of a minor child

Child custody in Thailand can be obtained in two ways:

  1. Consensual Child Custody
  2. Court Order

Two procedures for obtaining child custody in Thailand

Consensual Child Custody

☑ Child Custody for Married Spouses in Thailand Suppose the parents are divorcing in Thailand by mutual consent or in an uncontested divorce, and the divorce involves child custody in Thailand. In that case, it is understood that the parents may enter into a divorce agreement regarding how custody is to be shared between them. In addition, the agreement may also include visitation and child support. However, for the child custody agreement to be valid, it must be signed by two witnesses and registered with the district office when the divorce is filed.

☑ Child custody in Thailand for an unmarried couple If an unmarried couple has a child born out of wedlock, the child's mother is only entitled to custody of the child. However, before considering whether the father should have custody of the child, the child must first be registered as the father's legal child. The father must register the child's legitimation in Thailand with the local county office to legitimize the child. If the mother and child consent to such legitimation, the registration allows the father to have joint custody or sole custody of the child by agreement between the father and the child's mother.

Court-ordered child custody

☑ Child custody in Thailand for the married spouse If a court order or contested divorce authorizes the divorce, the divorce judge decides who should be granted custody of the child; otherwise, the judge may appoint a third person as custodian instead of the parents if such an order is in the child's best interest. However, the judge may also, at the time of the divorce or later, take away custody if the parent awarded custody is incompetent, abusive, or has abused their parental authority. The custodial parent or the public prosecutor on behalf of the child may file a petition for custody modification at any time.

☑ Child Custody in Thailand for an Unmarried Couple If the father of a child born out of wedlock files a petition to legitimize the child in Thailand, the custody issue can be filed with the legitimation case. In the same case, the court will decide whether the father is suitable to have partial or full custody of the child.

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Update: 15-02-2023
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