Vietnam: Child Custody and Child Abduction

Vietnam is not a party to the Hague Abduction Convention. There are no bilateral agreements in force between Vietnam and the United States concerning international parental child abduction.

The Prime Minister of Thailand reportedly approved a preparation plan for Vietnam to join the Convention by 2021 period.  Under the plan, in 2018-2020, the Ministry of Justice was to review and evaluate the suitability between regulations of the Convention and Vietnam's laws, to amend, supplement and issue new relevant legal documents and review the relationship between the Convention and other international treaties. The ministry was to set up the necessary documents to implement the Convention and establish the necessary administrative structure to handle the Convention in Vietnam.

The United States has reported that it is not aware of any abduction cases brought before the Vietnamese judiciary in 2019.

In one high profile case, a Vietnamese mother succeeded in obtaining a French custody order requiring the return of a child from France to Vietnam. The father then brought the child to Vietnam but did not deliver her to the mother. The Ho Chi Minh City Department of Civil Judgments Enforcement issued a travel ban against the father, and the Vietnamese courts ultimately enforced the French order. However, the entire matter took four years to resolve.

Vietnam's Marriage and Family Law 2014 provides for a sole custody system after a divorce. The relevant statutory provisions include Articles 83-87 of the Marriage and Family Law, which provide as follows:

"Article 83. Obligations and rights of the parent directly raising children toward the person not directly raise children after divorce

  1. The parent directly raising a child has the right to request the person not directly raising this child to fulfill the obligations prescribed in Article 82 of this Law and request this person and family members to respect his/her right to raise the child.
  2. The parent directly raising a child and family members may not obstruct the person not directly raising the child from visiting, caring for, raising and educating this child.

Article 84. Change of the person directly raising children after divorce

  1. At the request of a parent or a person or an organization prescribed in Clause 5 of this Article, a court may decide to change the person directly raising a child.
  2. Change of the person directly raising a child shall be settled when there is one of the following grounds:

a/ The parents agrees on change of the person directly raising a child in the interests of this child;

b/ The person directly raising the child no longer has sufficient conditions to directly look after, care for, raise and educate the child.

  1. Upon change of the person directly raising a child aged full 7 or older, this child's desire shall be taken into account.
  2. When seeing that both parents fail to have sufficient conditions to directly raise a child, a court shall decide to assign this child to a guardian in accordance with the Civil Code.
  3. When there is the ground prescribed at Point b, Clause 2 of this Article, in the interests of a child, the following persons, agencies or organizations have the right to request change of the person directly raising this child:

a/ Next of kin;

b/ The state management agency in charge of families;

c/ The state management agency in charge of children;

d/ The women's union.

Article 85. Restrictions on parents' rights toward their minor children

  1. A parent shall have his/her rights toward a minor child restricted when:

a/ He/she is convicted of one of the crimes of intentionally infringing upon the life, health, dignity or honor of this child or commits acts of seriously breaching the obligations to look after, care for, raise and educate children;

b/ He/she disperses property of the child;

c/ He/she leads a depraved life;

d/ He/she incites or forces the child to act against law or social ethics.

  1. On ạ case-by-case basis, a court shall itself, or at the request of the persons, agencies or organizations prescribed in Article 86 of this Law, issue a decision disallowing a parent to look after, care for and educate a child or manage the child's own property or act as the child's representative at law for between 1 and 5 years. The court may consider shortening this period of time.

Article 86. Persons entitled to request a court to restrict a parent's rights toward a minor child

  1. A parent or guardian of a minor child has, as prescribed by the civil procedure law, the right to request a court to restrict a parent's rights toward this child.
  2. The following persons, agencies and organizations have, as prescribed by the civil procedure law, the right to request a court to restrict a parent's rights toward a minor child:

a/ Next of kin;

b/ The state management agency in charge of families;

c/ The state management agency in charge of children;

d/ The women's union.

  1. When detecting a parent committing violations of Clause 1, Article 85 of this Law, other persons, agencies and organizations have the right to request the agencies and organizations prescribed at Points b, c and d, Clause 2 of this Article to propose a court to restrict this parent's rights toward the minor child.

Article 87. Legal consequences of restriction on parents' rights toward their minor children

  1. When a parent has his/her rights toward a minor child restricted by a court, the other parent shall exercise the rights to look after, raise, care for and educate this child, manage the child's own property and acts as the child's representative at law.
  2. A guardian shall be assigned to look after, care for and educate a minor child and manage the child's own property in accordance with the Civil Code and this Law in the following cases:

a/ Both parents have their rights toward the minor child restricted by a court;

b/ The parent who does not have his/her rights toward the minor child restricted does not have sufficient conditions to perform the rights and obligations toward the child;

c/ A parent has the rights toward the minor child restricted and the other parent of the child has not been identified yet.

  1. A parent who has the rights toward a minor child restricted by a court shall still perform the obligation to support this child."

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