Hague International Abduction

By Chaninat and Leeds

Child Abduction is a fairly common issue in divorce cases and family disputes.  Although, most child abductions in Thailand occur between Thai parents and involve taking a child from one Thailand province to another, there are also a number of abductions across national borders.  In Thailand, where there are many expatriate and foreign couples, a parent in a divorce case or parental dispute, may be tempted to flee Thailand (with their child) to their home country without the other parent’s permission.

The Hague Convention on Child Abduction is an international treaty between multiple nations that allows for a parent who has had their child abducted by the other parent. Although Thailand has been a signatory to the Hague Convention on Child Abduction for many years, only since 2013 has Thailand adopted the major provisions of the Hague Convention on Child Abduction as part of its internal domestic law. The Thai law is known as the Thailand Child Abduction Act (“TCA”).

The (“TCA”) provides parents with lawful custody and the ability to access a specialized court to seek the return of an abducted child. The TCA also established a procedure for enforcing rights under the Act, including a specialized court and a Central Authority.  (The Central Authority is the main administrative body for an initial review of claims and enforcing the provisions of the Act.)

There are 2 basic types of cases under the TCA:  Cases where the Thailand Attorney General seeks of enforcement of the Act.  The Attorney General’s involvement is usually due to the case being deemed very serious.  The second type of case is where a parent can access the Thai Court as an individual claimant.  Individual private claimant would seek to file individually in situations where the Attorney General declines the case or is acting too slowly.

Private court claims under the Thailand Child Abduction Act have specific time limits for filing.  A claimant must prove that the Child’s “habitual residence” is the place where the return of the child is requested.  TCA claims may be brought after or during a separate family court case involving the same parents.  However having lawful custody is a basic requirement for filing under the Act..

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

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