While the father’s name may be on a child’s birth certificate, it does not automatically give him any rights or parental responsibility. In Thailand, children born outside of marriage must be legitimized through a court order or government registration.
A father can apply for registration of his child’s legitimacy at an amphur with the mother’s consent and upon a judge’s judgment. Legitimated children can inherit, use their father’s surname, and gain citizenship or nationality.
Unlike most Western countries, where the father of a child has rights and obligations as well as the mother, under Thai law children born to unmarried parents have only the mother’s rights. This is despite the fact that the father may be named on the child’s birth certificate, and may have established a relationship with his child.
The father can gain parental rights through a process known as legitimation, which is outlined in Sections 1588 to 1600 of the Thai Civil and Commercial Code. The father must apply with the local registration office (Amphur in Bangkok) with the mother’s consent, and then attend with the child before a registrar to register the legitimization.
This provides the father with rights including inheritance, a right to use the child’s surname and access to medical and educational benefits provided by the government. This can also help preserve family honor. In cases where a foreign father wants to register legitimation, he must first obtain a court judgment from his home country that allows him to do so.
Custody is the right of a parent to have a child in their care and control. This can include the power to determine where a child lives, demand their return from anyone unlawfully detaining them, and manage their property with certain restrictions.
While the mother typically has custody rights in Thailand, a father can obtain them through a legitimation process. This requires the mother’s consent and involves submitting a petition to the local district office (Amphur).
After a child is legitimated, fathers have equal rights and responsibilities as mothers in Thailand. They have parental power and custody rights, unless deprived of them by a court judgment. When determining custody, courts look at the best interests of the child which is often determined by a social worker. They can also take into account the wishes of the child if they are old enough to express them. The parents are obligated to provide their children with food, shelter, education, and medical care.
Under Thai law a child born out of wedlock is solely the legal responsibility of the mother. If the father wishes to have parental authority he must follow a two-step process of legitimization. This involves a formal application at the local district office (Amphur) with the consent of the mother. If the mother is deceased or cannot provide her consent additional legal steps may be required. Legitimation confers the father with rights including the right to claim inheritance in case of the mother’s death.
Upon registration of legitimation, fathers have equal rights and responsibilities as mothers over their children, unless deprived of such by a court order. Parents are obligated to maintain their children and must provide them with food, shelter, and education until they reach the age of majority. (Section 1548 of the Civil and Commercial Code).
In Thailand, fathers have equal rights and responsibilities to mothers regarding their children. However, a father will only be entitled to exercise parental authority and custody of his child after he has registered the child’s legitimation at the district office (Amphur).
Legitimation is an important process that reflects cultural values and legal considerations in a country where family honor and tradition are highly valued. It carries a social acceptance that can be advantageous to parents and their children alike.
If you are a foreigner and have a Thai born child, our team of English speaking lawyers can assist with the registration of your child’s legitimacy at the Amphur with the mother’s consent or upon a court judgment. We will provide you with guidance, advice and preparation in this complicated process that could have far-reaching implications for your future. Contact us today for more information and a free consultation. Isaan Lawyers are here to help. We are your trusted partner in Thailand.