Custody of my child with Vietnamese ex girlfiend


I am seeking some advice on how as an Australian expat not living in VN I gain custody of my child who is currently with his Vietnamese mother. I'll bullet point the valid details but over view is I thought everything was ok but a surprise visit to the house and she isn't even raising him and hadn't been home for nearly a week. He is not being taken care of and she has all sorts of bad influences hanging around as evidence on facebook I have found shows. She is very clearly only wanting to keep custody for the money from me which I would not care about one bit is he was receiving care but some hired maid is his primary care giver to the extent that he reaches for the maid when he cries even when in her arms.

Some details:
* We were dating for 4 years
* I am since been told she has been married to a Vietnamese man for many years. (don't care moved on)
* I have had the DNA test and he is 100% my child (not that it was needed by looks) have both English and VN versions done
* I have done the hard work and got my name on his birth certificate.
* I have been paying plenty of child support and any other assistance needed.
* His well being and care is very poor, he is constantly sick.
* When confronted she was unconcerned and said no problem can take him but the next day back flipped and said I'll never see him again (someone else writing the messages for her and putting whatever in her head )
* he is 18 months old
* She has left him for the last 5 days while she ran around partying and has not been home (good old facebook)

I'll do whatever it takes to get my son out of that situation.

Has anyone had experience in this area? or can you point me to some literature on my rights or pathway forward here. Is there a law firm that specialises in this kind of thing?

Any help is appreciated

This is what I suggest:
- Capture her FB and save all other things that may be proofs you can use later. You should talk to any of your Vietnamese friends to find more). Keep evidences about the child support to.
- Are you willing to fly to VN to settle this out? If yes, I'm glad to introduce you to good lawyer that can help you with this.
- You can talk to me so that I can have clearer information and know what exactly I can help as a Vietnamese mother.
- One question: who was with your son while she's out?


You should contact a Vietnamese lawyer, he knows the procedures/law to get your son back.

Hi Scarletvn

Thank you for your reply. The Facebook grabs are easy I have some already and  there is plenty of it on there. Child support is all tracked as I either sent Western Union and give her a debit card linked to my account which I transferred money into for her to use. Having looked back and now knowing what I know she has been living the high life to go through that much money.
Most definitely I have been back many times to visit him and twice since this happened trying to reason with her. I'm heading back again tomorrow to see the Emabassy for advice and also to try and find a lawyer so any advice on a trustworthy and experienced one would be great.

He was with the maid/nanny, who I am pretty sure is actually living with him and is the one raising him as he reaches out for her anytime he cries even once I saw he was in his mothers arms yet reached for the maid. She seems a nice enough person while I am there and she makes the effort to engage me with him but she just laughs a lot and doesn't seem to be anything more than a baby sitter, I don't ever see her speaking with the other family members or the mother. Maybe you can educate me here but I kind of get the feeling they see her as lower class and there to serve them? The more I think about it the more I am seeing things that point towards the maid being the primary carer.

Thank you for comment Zanchun, I am on my way to HCMC this weekend to do that but looking on the internet I can't see any lawyers specifically dedicated to this area.
Any suggestions on where to look?

A friend of mine suggested engaging a private investigator who can then find out who is really living where and what is happening around him on a daily basis?

Hi Tydus,

This page might help you : … s/lawyers/

Good luck

Priscilla  :cheers:

That's brilliant thank you so much

Hi Tydus,

From my experience in law, generally, FB is not exactly a strong evidence to submit in court.

You are not legally married with her, thus, you are unable to file a legal matrimony suit against her.

What's left, which is the only option I see is you can file a suit to claim your child. I am not sure how detailed is your DNA test, or how do you verify the results of the test.

However, under normal circumstances, the law will assign the mother as the caregiver till a certain age. For child custody, there is an open secret that under ceteris paribus assumption, the child will be under the mother's care. In Vietnam, if I am not wrong is the age of 3.

Of course under special circumstances, such as the ability of mother is undermined, in the assessment of the judge, the table might be turned the other way.

Again, in a communist country and you being a foreigner, I would reckon the favour is not in your hands. Besides, going for trial is a long process and tedious. Your visa might be a problem and the trip to and fro.

It could be a long list what should be done and what could be done. Exact results cannot be given by anyone or lawyers for that matter as things can go either sides.

The lawyers however, can advise you on the procedures such as what forms to be filed and what you can file in accordance to the chapter of the law and whether a PI is required.

Regarding the PI, I am not sure of the PI quality in Vietnam as many claims to be a PI and in Vietnam, only ex-cops can apply and to be a PI. However, the professionalism and know-how is still dubious from my personal point of view. Simply being, an ex-cop does not mean he/she knows investigation process or what it takes to be an investigator.

I hope I am not being a wet blanket, but I do hope things will go well with you. I am a dad of 2 myself and I have been in and out of courtrooms many times. Thus, I can emphatise and forsee your future hassles.

if you ever need someone to talk to, pls feel free to drop me a PM.

With Regards.

Hi Tydus,

I agree fully with the comments made by Anthanasius Pang. His information is spot on, and if that is not enough to discourage you just remember the following three points:

1.  She is a biological mother and Vietnam is HER country. The courts, whether they like to admit it or not, are going to favor her in a custody application over a foreign national. Then there is also the presumption that an infant is ALWAYS better off with his/her mother. While that may not necessarily be the case in today's world, judges still think in that old-fashioned way.

2.  If your intention is to remove the child from Vietnam this would essentially deny the mother to regular access and visitation. I don't know of a judge anywhere on earth that is going to allow this to happen.

3.  In most cases, unless one proves that a biological mother is WHOLLY UNFIT to care for their child a father's ability to obtain sole custody is a long shot at best.  She is going to be able to come up with all kinds of witnesses to refute any kind of evidence that you may uncover to indicate that she is unfit. In Vietnamese courts oral evidence given by Vietnamese citizens is going to outweigh whatever you could possibly come up with. The courts aren't going to care or even try and find out if that testimony has been purchased and may be patently false.

All that combined with the fact that you never married the child's mother I think that you're in for a very long uphill battle and the very best case scenario that I could predict for your future would be some sort of shared custody (at best) with you having limited access and visitation that would be required to take place in Vietnam.

Sorry to burst whatever was left of your bubble after reading Mr. Pang's reply.

James      Expat-blog Experts Team

Thank you very much for all the info.
It's exactly what I needed I am very grateful for all advice good or bad, I need as much as I can get because it gives me a realistic understanding of what I am up against. This will save me a great deal of time and I can look at taking another approach rather than to be led into a long struggle I likely have no chance of success with.

Looks like getting her on side and somehow convincing her to hand him over is about the only chance I have. I'm sure it won't easy but...
Already started the sms chats again and it's like nothing ever happened. Will try and keep my patience in check and play the game.

Thanks again all

I know of some women in Vietnam, enjoys being impregnated by foreigners. They are harmless but just feel that they will have beautiful offsprings and to play with.

There are of course the general money minded ones categorised in 2:

1. Real pregnancy, REAL need for money to take care of the child.
2. Money twisters. This group of women, can be real or fake pregnant. Papers can be forged very easily and they will use this to demand $$$ from all guys they have sex with.

I am not sure what to say anymore. In the meanwhile, I really do suggest for you to personally take the baby to a reputable hospital and receive the results personally without a 3rd party involvement. Or hire a trusted 3rd party that is unknown to her to help you with all these administrative.

There are too many unbelievable but true variables in this situation but the very least, you will want to determine if the foundation for you to start your engine is worth it.

I truly wish you the best.


Contacct this lawer number 094 2777995 Ms.Thanh (Minh Man Lawer); she will try her best to help you on this case; But as my experience, its hard to get ur child with you unless his mother agree. What his mother does is just want you to give support money to her. I think must sitdown and negotiation. Anyway, contact the lawer and see what happen. hope everything is going fine.

Curious how you could have dated her for four years and had a child together but didn't know she was married? I would think even after a short time living together you would have noticed something.

What citizenship is your son?

Scarletvn :

What citizenship is your son?

If the child's mother is Vietnamese and he was born in Vietnam then his citizenship is VIETNAMESE. Further, if the child is physically in Vietnam any secondary citizenship he may or may not have is completely unimportant because the law considers him to be ONLY Vietnamese while in the country. If he were to have secondary citizenship that only takes effect outside of Vietnam.

I'm asking because if he has dual citizenship, the father can report his concern about his son's health to his embassy.

Thanks Athanasius Pang, I had an independent DNA test from Australia and we had to get the government one done here for my name to go on the birth certificate so no doubt about it, and he has my head the poor bugger so I have no doubts.

I have made amends with her for now and playing like everything is ok so at least I have access to him and can start working out what to do about it. Keep your friends and your enemy's closer.

I will update you if anything changes which I think may be a long way off. Thank you for you well wishes,

Hi Adhome01.

You are making a few assumptions there?

I never said we lived together, and I never said I wasn't suss the whole time, she is my ex for a reason. I was not living in total bliss blind to being taken for a ride. I knew something wasn't right and I handled the situation as such, I played along and called her out many times but she is a lot better at lying than I cared to be at investigating her life. She had her friends either in the dark or helping her along.

I have been around enough to know the game when I see it, I've read private dancer twice and laughed at seeing the story play out in front of me with others, I've counselled friends making silly mistakes trusting the wrong person and of course understand a common first reaction is just like yours and think "what an idiot how could he not know"

I'm not here crying over the relationship and asking Whyyyyy? waaaaaa!!! :-) it was what it was and I dealt with it., I had actually broken it off long before I got drunk and woke up next to her with no idea how or why I ended up back in her house but call it a stupid mistake or fate I have my little son in my life now and despite his mothers behaviour or her intentions on having him I'm not going to let myself regret it for one minute cause that would mean I wish he didn't exist.

Life goes on i'm going to make the best of it and not live with regret, not for having him and certainly not in the future for not doing everything I can to provide for him.

So I have spoken with the embassy and they confirmed what most you guys have said. literally no chance of winning a court action. They did however call a local attorney for me and get some advice on my options. They advised that once the passport is processed I can apply for dual custody and will get it no issue because of the fact that I made the effort to get my name on the birth cert, have been visiting regularly and paying ongoing child support that all shown a strong interest in his upbringing and want to be his father.

That will allow me to make some petitions to the court to have her take him to certain schools and care centres for his education etc, I can apply to the court for several things that are for his benefit and as long as we get a judge in a fair mood there is no reason she can dispute these requests as they are of great benefit to his upbringing. She will then be bound by the court to take him to these places every day and if she doesn't it gives me cause to apply for custody based on her letting his care slide. So its a win/win, if she takes him to the chosen care centres and schools I know he is getting cared for at least half the day and I'm getting feed back on his well-being, if she doesn't take him it opens the door for me for full custody.

I will do it all nicely and try to convince her to let me look after him and get to the money issue if I need but keep the court option up my sleeve for when the ace card is needed.

Its not the best outcome but its a step in the right direction.

thanks to all

James :
Scarletvn :

What citizenship is your son?

If the child's mother is Vietnamese and he was born in Vietnam then his citizenship is VIETNAMESE. Further, if the child is physically in Vietnam any secondary citizenship he may or may not have is completely unimportant because the law considers him to be ONLY Vietnamese while in the country. If he were to have secondary citizenship that only takes effect outside of Vietnam.

You would think a child born in a native country to a native mother would automatically be the native citizen.

There's been numerous cases where the Vietnamese citizen mother has been left dumbfounded why the foreigner can have custody of the child and why the child can't have Vietnamese citizenship despite being borned in Vietnam to that Vietnamese citizen mother.

And the reason being Vietnam doesn't recognize multi citizenship. If the foreigner registers the child first as being a citizen outside of Vietnam in their home country Vietnam will recognize that foreign citizenship and can't issue a 2nd citizenship of Vietnam.

That's why it's always important to register the child as Vietnamese citizen first than your home country.

As for why overseas Vietnamese and children of overseas Vietnamese can claim Vietnamese citizenship. The argument is they haven't renounces Vietnamese citizenship and are re-claiming it.

Anyways off topic but just some clarification. I would assume the child is Vietnamese citizen. Taking custody of it you can try to get the child Australian citizenship first with your birth certificate and DNA if you haven't already.

Hi Khanh44

I was told this before by someone but I think its either changed or one of those grey area's that can be blurred to suit someone needs at the time. As far as the Aust embassy website states that but it is only the case if the parents renounce the child's citizenship. If they have a Vietnamese parent even if not born here they are first and foremost a Vietnamese citizen.

Vietnamese nationality and citizenship

According to the new Citizenship Law of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam which came into effect on 1 January 1999, the Vietnamese Government still does not recognise dual nationality - any person with Vietnamese citizenship (whether or not the person also possesses the citizenship of another country e.g. Australia) is regarded by the Vietnamese government firstly as a Vietnamese national. The only exception to this is where a person has formally renounced their Vietnamese citizenship (see below).

Vietnamese citizenship can be acquired by birth or by application to the Vietnamese authorities. Any person born with at least one parent who is a Vietnamese citizen, whether the person was born in or outside Vietnam, is generally considered by Vietnamese law to be a Vietnamese citizen. Children of non-Vietnamese parents born in Vietnam are also eligible for Vietnamese nationality unless the parents choose otherwise. It is possible to relinquish Vietnamese citizenship but experience has shown this can take some time to finalise as it requires approval by the President (applicants in Vietnam should contact their local People's Committee for advice on procedures - overseas applicants should contact the nearest Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate).
End Quote

What you posted is everything I meant to say and agree with all the above posting.

I think there's a disagreement on the interpretation of the above posting.

There's 2 seperate distinction.

1st paragraph pertains particularly to oversea Vietnamese (Viet Kieus) and Vietnam's repatriation program. I'm treated in the legal sense as a Vietnamese citizen although I don't hold Vietnamese citizenship. I hold Canadian citizenship. I was born in Vietnam and left at age of 1. I can reclaim Vietnamese citizenship but I don't intend to.

Paragraph 2 pertains to newborn babies born in Vietnam. I'm having a baby daughtet next month. When she is born she's not automatically a citizen of Vietnam. I have to go apply.

If I apply for Canadian citizen first. Than apply for Vietnam citizenship they will say Vietnam does not recognize dual citizenship. My daughter is not re-patriating to Vietnam.

It may be possible to eventually get the Vietnamese citizenship but it will be lots of hassle. Safer to get Vietnamese citizenship first than home country.

Thanks for clarifying Khanh44 I kind of see the distinction. I will ask the attorney to check on my son's current status and if this is as I expect when I submit his application for Aust citizenship it will either be an issue or a solution.

Appreciate your taking the time to assist me.


No problem I don't think you will have a problem with the Australian citizenship.


I have some thoughts hearing the story from your side:

1. First, the posts above are quite right that it will be difficult for you to take the kid.

2. Secondly, for a lot of reasons, I don't really believe bringing the situation to the court will be much help! It will be a long long fight without a sure win here in Vietnam.

3. You said your ex gf lives well from the money you send in order for her to take care of your kid but she seems not doing a very good job. And doesn't want to give your son back because of the money she receives every month. You may have to play some tricks! How about  you try reducing or stop sending money? Let's say business is not so good anymore.

3. If you can, you should spend enough time in Vietnam to get your kid or find someone you trust with your kid. Your ex might go crazy with you for not sending money. This is when you can reason with her, either she gives the kid to you if she can't take care of the kid anymore or you give her some money and she gives you the baby!

4. If she agrees, with the kid has your name, make him a second passport and recognition that it is your child! After that, you can choose if the kid lives in other countries or lives here in Vietnam.

2 or 3 years ago there was a story of the VNmese mother taking the kids from an expat to Cambodia so she doesn't have to give them to the father according to the law. So be very careful!

Best of luck and happiness to your child!!


Everybody here is right. You might not like my advice but here it is. Money goes a long way in vietnam. Get in contact with friends in vietnam that have police contacts and you'll be able to get some advice from them and even legal services for a fee.

In whatever you choose good luck.

According to article 54, Marriage & Family Law of Vietnam: "Financial support can be paid monthly, quarterly, half-yearly, yearly or once only.

Both parties discuss the custody issues, the father/mother may temporarily pause the financial support due to the unexpected crisis (as unemployment, unhealthy or sudden low income etc.). Should there any disagreement, the decision of the court will be the final one."

The Family Code of Vietnam provides: “In case of separation of the parents, parental authority shall be exercised by the parent designated by the Court. The Court shall take into account all relevant considerations, especially the choice of the child over nine years of age, unless the parent chosen is unfit. x x x No child under 3 years of age shall be separated from the mother unless the court finds compelling reasons to order otherwise”

For your information.

I have to agree with Ngan Khanh in her response of using money as to the medium for negotiation. I was in a divorce that cost me more than $120,000 USD. Not with a Vietnamese but in my home country, the U.S. After other legal battles in the court system I found the cheapest and quickest way is to negotiate and mediate the situation.

You must realize the chance of getting your child out of the country will be a losing cause or impossible without the mother's consent. To prove the mother incompetent and get sole custody seems almost impossible. Think about it. It will cost a lot of money and heartache. It seems to me and I have concluded, it is better to side step all the legalities that hinder your progress, since the legal system is slow and you may get your child when it is 18 years old, negotiate with the mother on a monetary way. Make a proposal as to how much it would take to get her to agree and get her to give up her right to custody.

Be careful not to propose too much in the beginning since this will be the starting point. Be assured in your quest that it will be costly, so why go the long way of it and cut to the quick. Do it for the kid! Sounds like you will be a good dad.    Good luck.


Sorry that your son is not being taken care of properly.

I am Viet Kieu, and a US lawyer.  I am not familiar with Vietnamese laws on child custody. 

There are numerous international parental kidnapping cases where dual citizen children, with custody orders in the U.S., are removed by the non-US parent to her/his home country without the U.S. parent's consent.  The judicial systems in the home countries are reluctant to return the children even though some are signatories to the Hague Convention on international child abduction. 

Even in extreme cases, the Vietnamese court is unlikely to rule in your favor.  The home country will always favor their citizens. 

In your case, the Australian government and local embassy will be helpless in a case involving a Vietnamese citizen child.  Australian citizenship is irrelevant in Vietnam when a child is a Vietnamese citizen.

Don't confuse the way the judicial system works in western countries with how the Vietnamese judicial system works.

As a Viet Kieu, this has been my observations with mixed babies where the mother is less than a mother.  The mother will milk you for all the money she can.  Then she will sell the child to a couple who needs an Australian citizen child (since AU will recognize this) so they can immigrate to AU.  This is a horrible thing that my people do.  I am ashame of it.

Your best bet is to negotiate and offer her money.  You need to stop the child support to show you are serious.  I know this will harm the child too. 

Unfortunately, money is the only thing some people care about. 

I am sorry.

That's good advice from VietnamKid. Hope the original poster gives it serious consideration.

You can pay monthly or pay it all at once and have your daughter live with you worry free.

I would get a lawyer to offer her money, say $50,000, to sign the child over to your custody, to be raised and educated in your country. You could also offer to fly her to your country every year to visit the child.

Don't be tempted to take the woman to your country without legal advice. My friend took his estranged Vietnamese wife to New Zealand as part of a deal to get their two kids out of the country and he stands to lose $350,000. He believed it was in the children's interest to have the mother present during their upbringing. He also paid her family – the father and  eldest son, both unemployed – $30,000.

However, he wasn't aware that NZ laws had changed since he left the country 20 years ago. Nowadays, if a couple live together for two years, each can claim half the money owned between them.

As it happened, she stayed for two years and then bailed out of the relationship, wants custody of the children and is claiming $350,000 in the process. I haven't heard the final outcome.

my opinion maybe different.. but for me.. cut everything.. cut the support (financially) and if she's desperate enough she will come to you.. then you can come to an agreement. I have met many girls like her.. they use any leverage that they have to gain an advantage. they are good at this.. they seek any advantage they can get and exploit it...  start by reducing her monthly .. allowance .. and don't give in to her demands ..

Dear concerned I'm a Us citizen and the grandparent of twin boys whose mother is vietnamies and my son is here in America. She has been here for three yrs in us and just left to go to visit her family in Vietnam. I have the main caretaker of the boys now eighteen monthes. as she has had no interest at all in the boys she did not change them did not want to feed them as needed she left everyday to go do nails and did not come home till late everyday then she kept them up all hrs with a lot of screaming at them to the point they were afraid of her. She has been there two weeks an already dropping them off at a daycare for long hours. Now we are worried sick about these kids that she won't come back as promised and then what are our legal rights ya know. My heart says pick up the neglected children and bring them home. Our problem is we may not be able to even find them. At least you lnow where he is. But my suggestion is just pick him up and take him to UNICEF they are there to protect the rights of children. They have offices in Hochi men city and also in ha noy. I'm sure they deal with this all the time and they could help you get his visa to take him home.  My grandsons were also victims of sexual abuse and it is prevelant there. I've also read stories of parents just selling their kids to the Chinese or Cambodians. But the safest is the starvation. They are malnourished. because.  they can't grow on noodle broth.  Don't think twice get your son out of there.

Saddest is the starvation

Hate to tell you this but you have virtually no rights to your child as a man in Vietnam. Moreover it is very common for someone else to raise the child so the lady can go earn money for tge clan. I was told I could perhaps influence the judge with a bit of coffee money. Indeed, he agreed to take a nice some. The lawyers even itemize the coffeee money separately from the lawyers fees. But here they do not believe a father has any ability to care for the child alone . I know it sucks.

I failed to mention. You should. Heck your countries status with the Gague Treaty on divorce. Most Western countries did not agree to get involved or unforced forreign divorces.

atruv22 has a valid point. This gals are very adroit at squeezing your nuts. Don't play the game, don't speak to them. And above all do not give them a Dong. They are about money first and foremost. They will use children to get what they want. Children are pawns here and a retirement account for mom and family.

Could you please let me know how things worked out for you? I am facing a similar situation with my girlfriend and 12 months old son.

Cut off the cash and you'll be in a better bargaining position. Continue with the cash and you will be bled dry. Either way you will not get custody at least until the child is older.

Even if you were married to the woman you would have problems. Not being married you have no chance

Emotional blackmail will be used because it works. Money is the primary motivation for the mother and you have no way of knowing if the money is being used for the child's welfare. Probably not.

Facing  up to the situation is the first step in getting it sorted. It's not a short term effort. It'll take years. You'll have to play the long game. Meantime you will have very little say in how the child is raised.

That could change when the child is older. Meantime you can provide for the basic requirements but do not expect any favours from the mother. She will only be concerned with the financial aspects.

That is the her weak point. You maintain control over the financial aspects and you maintain some control over what happens to the child.

Your emotional attachment to the child will be used against you. It will be manipulated in order to get more money from you. That is why you will have to accept the situation no matter how distorted it may appear.

As long as you appear to be concerned about the child's welfare you will be targeted for money. It's as simple as that. You will be viewed as a walking ATM.

What blunders says is what I have found to be true as well. Try to appear, at least, detached. I do provide for the tangible things for my child. But no money will ever be given. And the tangible is just between me and my son. In the out years I do not want him to think I did not live and support him. Children’s are tools to these people.

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