Girl Returned to Mother After Thailand Abduction

by Admin on March 15, 2012

A Syracuse, New York child has been returned to her family after being abducted by her father and taken to Thailand five years ago. Her wayward parent, furthermore, was arrested in Bangkok on International Child Abduction charges and was extradited back to the US. The case has brought to light a number of misconceptions and misunderstandings about child abduction law in Thailand.

No, Child Abduction in Thailand is Not a Hopeless Case

We have had inquiries as to why our information on this subject is not in agreement with that presented on the US state department website. As practicing attorneys in Thailand specializing in family law and child abduction, we disagree with the US State Department’s information. Pursuing and prosecuting child abduction cases in Thailand are entirely feasible. Multiple child abduction cases have been pursued through Thai courts of law and the children in question returned successfully to their parents.

Fact, Fiction, and the US State Department Website

There are certain inaccuracies on the US State Department’s Website on “International Parental Child Abduction Thailand”. On such inaccuracy can be found on the first page, in the first paragraph:

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.” 

In actuality there are laws concerning child abduction and child custody laws in Thailand. Child abduction inThailandis covered by Section 317 of the Thailand Criminal Code, which states:

“Whoever, without any reasonable cause, takes away a child not yet over fifteen years of age from the parent, guardian, or person looking after such child, he or she shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years and fined of six thousand to thirty thousand baht.”

A case for child abduction begins with a court filing for sole custody of the abducted child. Once sole custody is attained, if the non-custodial parent has abducted the child, the suite may become a criminal case. A Thailand lawyer can file a claim on behalf of parents to establish custody rights over the child in question. The motion in the Thai courts can force the offending parent to appear in court in Thailand, and the custodial parent may assert parental rights.

Thailand and the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides a procedure for parents who have had their children abducted by the other parent. The Hague Treaty on Child Abduction is executed through the governments of treaty member countries, but normally requires an attorney to file the appropriate documents with the government authority responsible for the action to ensue.

“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.

This statement gives the mistaken impression that Thailand does not recognize the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This is untrue; Thailand is has formally acceded to the convention but as yet the proper procedures for acting upon the convention have not been codified into Thai law. The convention, like the topics of surrogacy and IVF, fall into the “grey area” of  Thailand law. For this reason, parents are encouraged to pursue their cases in the Thailand courts in the procedure outlined above.

Thailand Abduction – Differences by Region

Though the Hague Convention has not yet been codified into Thai law, this does not mean that the convention is entirely valueless within the Thai legal system. On the contrary, the value of the convention depends on the region where the motion is being filed from.

  • Thailand-US Abduction Cases: As the US State Department website indicates, the convention cannot be used in to retrieve a child either abducted fromThailand and taken to theUS, orvice-versa. In such cases, clients are advised to speak withThailand attorneys about their options regarding the filing of child custody orders through each country’s respective court system. For example, the parent of a child that has been abducted from the US  to Thailand should approach aThailand lawyer about receiving full custody of the child in Thailand courts. In some circumstances, a parent in Thailand whose child has been taken to theUS may be able to invoke the Hague treaty to retrieve the abducted child
  • Thailand – International Abduction Cases: In general, cases where a child has been abducted from a non-US country and taken to Thailand, the parent will have difficulties invoking the Hague convention to compel Thai authorities to act; however, the individual should check with international lawyers within his own country to learn of any specific acts or treaties that might be used instead. The individual should also immediately seek counsel with a Thailand lawyer, who can assess the possibilities for seeking sole custody of the child through Thailand courts, and pursuing the retrieval of the child through those routes. If a child has been removed from Thailand and taken abroad, a Thai national may potentially invoke the Hague convention to retrieve the child whose home is in Thailand from a non-US country (provided that the child has been taken to a country that is a signatory of the Convention)

The Bottom Line

Child abduction cases in Thailand are far more complicated than many authorities give them credit for, as a variety of factors come into play that may affect the retrieval of the abducted child. In the event of such a serious crime, parents must seek legal counsel from an experienced Thailand attorney to learn about the options available to them.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

dr.k.conor September 18, 2012 at 16:58

The article is correct and importantly points out that although Thailand is a UN Member and has signed or made motions to sign for compliance to UN Conventions, in practice, it remains grey and bound by social-cultural ‘policy’ which are all unwritten. Thai Police will not consider an abducting wife’s mental imbalance and will ignore marriage, but will ‘give’ a child to make the Thai mother ‘happy’. Thai Human Rights Commission will wrinkle their eyebrows with concern, but will take no action that would upset what already has been done by Thai Police. Thai Dept Welfare and Social Development will write lengthy reports and recommend that the ‘foreign’ father visit the child and ‘send money’. The US Embassy will side with ‘Thai Authorities’ and will suggest that perhaps ‘you have beaten her as Thai men do’. The downfall of a Thai Court, is again, their siding with society..and if the abduction and child abuse aspects were to apply, then her step-daughter would be left without a mother support. Although my abducted son does not wish to remain with his Thai mother, the mother calls in Thai Police to claim herself as victim. Complicated indeed.

JM January 6, 2013 at 14:13

I believe the facts are wrong.
The Thai courts gave custody of my son to the mother, because I was not invited to the court hearing; and my X banned me from seeing my son, after 18 months the courts finally said I could see my son, but the mum was to supervise my visits – no Thai man that wanted to see his son would ever let that happen – thus I took my son to the UK. My X came to the UK and after the UK legal system bleeds me dry I agreed for my son to return to Thailand. My X forced the Thai police to charge me and after several discussions the Thai police said we can make this go away for a fee – however at the same time I won the appeal and got back 50% and three weekends per month, but my X defaulted, thus I took her to court, where the abducting case was raised by my lawyer and the Thai courts said I had nothing to answer for and said they will deal with the cheating policeman. Since my X married the reason I divorced her and being cock sure she ever brought my son to Oman where I was working, but the bombshell came from my 12 year old son where he said he does not like his new step dad and wants to stay with me. An Omani lawyer filed for a new custody case here in Oman, my X was very angry, and left Oman taking my sons passports, she appointed a lawyer and they are trying to have me convicted for holding a minor, while brainwashing him – thus I’m fighting this and the custody case. My son found my court papers and started reading and then questioned why I never told him why his mum left the home and him with me, and why I lost the custody case; boy- O-boy did all this hurt him and he asked to use my phone, where he called his mum and screamed at her for be so untruthful by saying that he dad was a bad man. I have since filed a criminal case against her for deserting her son in a needy state and for blocking access to his school report, so he can’t go to a school here in Oman. I am requesting this information from the Thai embassy. Things are now in progress with the Oman justice system that I can state are by far much more professional and are not racial.

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