CHILD CUSTODY How to obtain child custody in Thailand
Unfortunately the tether of our life, sometimes, doesn't unroll as we had dreamed or planned.
Differences in age, culture, life-aims, language, and more in general, difficulties in understanding each other, can easily turn the most idyllic and promising marriages or partnerships of "mix couples" into nightmares that inexorably ends in divorces which can become much harder and hurtful especially when the couple has produced children. In hindsight, we so often find our self thinking that we should have foreseen it and prudently signed a pre-nuptial agreement and to have included in it even the custody of the future offspring(s) but... can we really blame ourselves to escaped such kinds of "negative" thoughts when we were so much in love? Here we will try to understand what we can do and how we shall act, in case of disputes regarding the custody of our beloved children.
Acknowledgement of Paternity: are you really the father of your children? It might seem a silly question, but I can assure you that it is not so at all. To use the old Roman quote "mater semper certa est, pater nunquam", while the mother is always sure, for the children born "outside" the marriage (from non legally married couples), the "paternity" is not automatically recognized in Thailand even though the father has declared to be the legitimate parent of the new born at the hospital's authorities, if his name with the qualification of "father" is mentioned in the Child's birth certificate or if he has registered the child at his embassy. Therefore the majority of the fathers who have children "outside the marriage" in Thailand have to can be rightly defined as "ghost fathers", and they won't be entitled to any rights at all over their children until paternity will be formally recognized by a Court of law. So, the first step is to be sure to have been recognized as the father before starting any legal action to obtain child custody.
Mutual Agreement for Child Custody If this is true that finding a mutual agreement is the best way to sort out our conflicts in practically every circumstances of our life, it becomes of paramount importance when we talk about our children but, make no mistakes, a simple agreement won't be enough because the only authority entitled to confer the paternity of a child born outside the marriage is the Family Court. This means that we would need to present a petition, to be scrutinized by the "Center of Protection of Children and Consciousness" and to obtain a proper court ruling. In all process, a competent family-lawyer shall assist us, as we recommend hiring a proficient court interpreter, possibly with good experience in the field, even if we think to patronize the language.
Child Custody Disputes (litigations) - Exclusive Custody What about in case of disputes between the parents? If it true that no judge will deny to a "legally recognized" parent the right to visit and partly participate to the growing, the personal development and to the life of his children, to obtain the "exclusive custody" is completely another story. Having said that the assistance of a very competent legal team, better if specialized and with good experience in the field is of paramount importance, it could not be enough without the full collaboration of the part seeking for exclusive custody which should be corroborated by clear evidence that the child or the children would grow and develop better with one of the parents rather then the other. And again, make no mistakes, when we say evidence, we mean real legal evidence, not your idea of evidence. Specifically: we need to legally demonstrate beyond any possible doubts that the other parent can not take properly take care of your child or your children. As you possibly well know, and as in the rest of the world, given similar situations, the rights of the mother will usually prevail.
The importance of the status quo and of the will of the child Another concept, present in the Thai law, is often difficult to be understood and accepted by the foreigners living in Thailand: the importance of the status quo and of the will of the child. If a child is happily living with one of the two parents, it will be very difficult for the other to change the status quo. Furthermore all the burden of the petition will be on him/her with extremely uncertain results. The judge will take in serious consideration the will of the child for his/her own good despite our certainty that he, she or them will be better with us. So, and only apparently in contradiction with what above is affirmed, facts, evidence, love and truth will be at least as important as a good lawyer to try to obtain the exclusive custody of a child.
The Social Lawyers Co., Ltd. Legal address: 10/14 moo 9, Nongprue, Banglamung, Chonburi 20150 Thailand TH firstname.lastname@example.org