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Child custody battles in Thailand is very common even amongst the local population. For this reason the courts are always full and any litigation over guardianship can take up to two years to complete. The Bangkok Post has highlighted many cases where a custody battle ended in murder. There have been a number of expatriate cases over the last 4 years in Thailand. It is always better to consult a family lawyer in Thailand.

Guardianship in Thailand


As an example, there had been more than 3,000 divorces cases in 2014 where the main litigation was about child custody. There are not that

many expats in Thailand as the last count had been 7,700 expatriates married to Thai nationals in 2016 however they do not release stats on expatriate divorces.

Most litigation for child custody comes from a divorce and very rarely does it comes from one party being declared insane or being an unfit parent. If you are going down this line then you should find a good family lawyer in Thailand as litigation based on being an unfit parent will require a good investigator to provide all the proof. Child custody battles are a costly process.


Most times the issue of custody can be settled out of court. Where most of the expatriate legal battles had started was with business and property with the children being used as part of the divorce battle. This is not uncommon. Of the last 3 expatriate divorce cases which made headlines all three had been about property and custody of the children as one parent was to return to his home country. If the courts feel that neither make good parents or are unfit to be the parent they do appoint a guardian for the child. This is most times a family member such as an uncle or an aunt. This however does not occur often.


Should your Thai wife be insane, being a court declaration that your wife’s insanity. They will have a guardian appointed for her in court. Should you wish to apply for custody of the children then this would be the time. If the courts feel that you are not fit to be the parent they will appoint a permanent guardian for the children.  If you are granted custody then you would have to make arrangements if you wish to take them back to your home country.


It is not uncommon in rural Thailand to adopt the children of other family members when they are not able to look after the children themselves. This is very common in Thailand and it is done unofficially. Most times this works well while your wife may be looking after her niece or nephew however if you ae considering leaving the country and taking your family back home. You would need to speak to an attorney about adoption. See the page on adoption on this website for more details.

On a side note about guardianship in Thailand. The law prescribes that you have to provide a full inventory of what the child owns within 3 months after being appointed. This includes what the child is entitled to. Note that Thai law also stipulates that “the guardian has the same rights and duties as a person exercising parental power”.

Speak to a family lawyer in Thailand about guardianship and what the legal ramifications are.

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