Child Legitimation in Thailand

A father can legitimize his child by submitting an action for it at the local district office. This requires the mother and child to express consent, and they must appear before the registrar within sixty days of being notified or one hundred eighty days if they are outside of Thailand.

Father’s Rights and Responsibilities

If you are a father who lives in Thailand you may have some concerns regarding child custody issues. Under Thai law if the mother and father are not married then the mother has full parental powers and custody rights to the child. This is different than the situation in most Western countries where the biological father normally has some custodial rights to his children.

For a father to be recognized as the legal father of a child in Thailand he has to take an action in legitimation. The court will look at a number of factors including DNA tests, witness statements and proof that the father has provided financial support for the mother during and after her pregnancy.

The family court in Thailand uses the best interest of the child standard when ruling on a custody case. Generally, social workers will be involved to examine the child’s circumstances and the behaviour of both parents including any past history of domestic or international child abduction.

Custody Issues

In Thailand child custody issues are different from what they might be in the West. Custody in Thai law carries a far wider meaning than the English word used to mean. In fact it’s similar to the concept of guardianship. The father might have rights or responsibilities in respect of the child depending on his legal status and the circumstances of the case.

Normally, for a father to gain custody he has to file a separate legitimation case at the court. In this case the court will decide whether he is suitable to exercise the partial or full custody of the child.

The process of filing a legitimation case might include appointments with officials (what we would call Social Workers in the Western world) from the Family and Juvenile Observations department to interview both mother and child. This process is important for determining whether the mother and/or child will agree to legitimation. If they don’t, then the case will proceed to trial.

Inheritance Rights

In Thailand, a father’s name on a child’s birth certificate does not automatically confer paternal rights. A father must legitimize the parent-child relationship by completing a legal process known as acknowledgment in the presence of a district office official. The process involves completing required paperwork, providing proof of identity and the mother’s consent, and having the father verified as the biological father.

Once successfully completed, a certificate will be issued, granting the father certain rights and obligations including inheritance rights. Inheritance rights are important because they can enable the father to be legally obligated to provide financial support for the child.

In addition to inheriting property, a legitimated child can also receive government benefits and gain social acceptance and esteem in Thai culture by bearing the father’s surname. Custody issues can also be addressed within the context of a legitimation case and the court may assess the father’s suitability to exercise partial or full custody of the child.

DNA Testing

Biological paternity in Thailand can only be established through marriage to the mother before birth, or through a legitimation process. A father who is not a legal father will have no parental rights and will not be obligated to provide child support.

Those who wish to legitimize their children may apply to the local district office with the consent of the mother and the child. Upon registration, the father will have the same rights and responsibilities as a legally married father.

The process involves acknowledging the child in front of a registrar at the district office. The father will then be granted the same legal rights as a married father including inheritance and custody rights.

Oftentimes the process can take some time as many Thai district offices are hesitant to approve anything that has to do with citizenship (this is due to past incidents in which district officers illegally gave citizenship to foreigners). The best way to speed up the process is by being persistent and bringing up the matter frequently with the relevant official.

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