Thai Divorce-Child Custody

Thai Divorce and Child Custody

If a marriage is not working, disputes over children are to be expected especially if it comes down to divorce.

The break up of an unmarried couple with children may be further complicated by illegitimacy issues.

Disputes are common over who will have child custody, who will pay child support, and what are each parent’s responsibilities in the shared child-raising.

TSL & Associates are experts in solving Thai divorce-related child custody and child support issues.

Thai Divorce and Child Custody are governed by the Civil and Commercial Law of Thailand.

The rights of custody or 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).

A person exercising parental power has the following rights:

  • 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.


Option 1 – By Mutual Consent of the Parents

If the Child is Born to a Married Couple

If a married couple are divorcing, they can enter into a divorce agreement concerning custody and sharing.

The Child Custody agreement can include child visitation rights and financial support for the child. However, in Thailand, for the child custody agreement to be valid, it must be signed with two witnesses and registered with the district office at the time of registering the divorce.

If the Child is Born to an Unmarried Couple – If the parents are unmarried and the child was born out of wedlock, the mother of the child only has sole custody.

The father can only exercise custody rights if the child was registered as a legitimate child of the father.

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 child consent to such legitimation, then the registration allows the father to have joint custody or sole custody upon agreement between the father and the mother of the child.

Option 2 – By the Decision of the Court

Child Custody in Thailand for a Married Spouse – If divorce is granted by the court’s judgment (in a contested divorce), the judge will decide who should be given child custody; or the judge can appoint a third person as a guardian in place of parents if necessary in the best interest of the child.

If the parent that was granted custody is proven as incompetent, misconduct, or abusing his/her parental power, the judge may remove parental power, even after divorce.

In the exercise of abusive parental power, the 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 wedlock 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 partial or whole custody over the child.


Choosing a Thai law firm specialising in international law to assist you with your Thai Divorce and Thai Custody Dispute will ensure that the judge’s decision is recognised internationally and avoid having legal difficulties in the future. If you would like assistance with with your Thai Thai Divorce and Child Custody Dispute, please consult TSL.

TSL Thailand Contact Information:

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