GENERAL INFORMATION: Parental Kidnapping is not a crime in Thailand and Thai authorities will not issue a warrant or become involved should one parent take a child without the other parent's authorization.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction cannot be invoked if a child is taken from the United States to Thailand, or vice versa, by one parent against the wishes of the other parent or in violation of a U.S. custody order.
CHILD CUSTODY: Under Thai law, the question of child custody is addressed in Book Five of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code under the general headings Termination of Marriage and Rights and Duties of Parent and Child. The relevant portions of the law follow in full:
Section 1520. In case of divorce by mutual consent, the agreement for the exercise of parental power over each of the children shall be made in writing. In the absence of such agreement or (if) an agreement thereon cannot be reached, the matter shall be decided by the court. In case of divorce by judgment of the court, the parental power belongs to the party in whose favor the judgment is given, unless it is decided by the court that the parental power shall belong to the other party, or that a third person shall be the guardian.
Section 1521. If it appears that the guardian as provided in Section 1520 behaves himself or herself improperly or there is a change of circumstances after the appointment, the court has the power, after taking into consideration the happiness and interest of the child, to give an order appointing a new guardian.
Although the parental power belongs to one party, the other has the right to continue such personal relation with the child as may be reasonable according to the circumstances.
Section 1522. In the case of divorce by mutual consent, an arrangement shall be made and contained in the agreement of divorce as to who, both of the spouses or either spouse, will contribute to the maintenance of the children and how much is the contribution. In case of divorce by judgment of the court or in case the agreement of divorce contains no provisions concerning the maintenance of the children, the court shall determine it.
Section 1566. A child is subject to parental power as long as he is not sui juris. The parental power is exercised by the father or the mother in any of
the following cases:
(1) The father or mother is dead;(2) It is uncertain whether the father or the mother is living or dead;
(3) The father or the mother has been adjudged incompetent or quasi-incompetent;(4) The father or the mother is placed in a hospital by reason of mental infirmity;
(5) The parental power has been granted to the father or the mother by an order of the court. The parental power is exercised by the mother, when the child was born out of wedlock and has not yet been legitimated by the father according to Section 1547.
Section 1567. A person exercising parental power has the right:
(1) to determine the child's place of residence(2) to punish the child in a reasonable manner for disciplinary purposes;(3) to require the child to do such work as may be reasonable to his ability and condition in life,(4) to demand the return of the child from any person who unlawfully detains him.
As shown above, the question of child custody under Thai law is addressed mainly in the context of termination of marriage. It is therefore difficult to speculate about what kind of stance the Thai courts would take toward a custody decision made in the absence of the termination of a marriage, e.g., in the event of a legal separation. As a matter of law, foreigners are treated on an equal basis with Thai citizens in matters relating to child custody. Thai law makes no distinction between the rights of the father and mother on issues of child custody.
ENFORCEMENT OF FOREIGN ORDERS: Foreign orders (including U.S. custody orders) are not enforced/enforceable in Thailand.
American citizens who travel to Thailand place themselves under the jurisdiction of Thai courts.
If a taking parent chooses to remain in Thailand with a child or leave a child behind in Thailand,
the U.S. Embassy cannot force either the taking parent or the Thai Government to return the child to the United States. American citizens planning a trip to Thailand with dual national children should bear this in mind.
American Citizen Services (ACS)Address: 95 Wireless Road, Bangkok 10330, ThailandTel: (2) 205-4049
Home Page: http://bangkok.usembassy.gov/embassy/acs.htm
For international parental child abduction, contact the Office of Children's Issues at 202-736-7000, visit our home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov/family/abduction/abduction_580.html, or send a nine-by-twelve-inch, self-addressed envelope to:
Office of Children's Issues (CA/OCS/CI)U.S. Department of StateSA-29, 4th Floor2201 C Street, N.W.Washington, D.C. 20520-2818