The new child custody laws allow for virtual visitation. Virtual visitation can revolutionize the way in which divorce parents and their children communicate with each other. This section provides information on how technology is making to possible to virtual visit your children located in another part of the country.
As the name suggests, in virtual visitation, the parent uses technology to visit the child. These days parenting agreements and child custody orders allow the use of emails, video mail, video conferencing and instant messaging as means of keeping in touch with the children.
Generally, the non-custodial parent requests for virtual visitation, if he or she is moving or relocating to another state which prevents him or her from exercising visitation rights. Even when an unmarried father applies for visitation, the application can contain a request for virtual visitation.
Virtual Visitation Laws
Today many states have virtual visitation laws. These states include Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Utah, Illinois and Wisconsin. In some states virtual visitation is referred to as electronic visitation while in some it is known as internet visitation.
Even in states without virtual visitation laws, it is still an option that is generally available to parents. For example in New York there is no law on virtual visitation but the courts tend to favor the use of technology.
The law aims to supplement the existing physical visitation with virtual visitation and not eliminate physical visitation altogether. Generally the parents are required to encourage such visitation and ensure that the other parent is allowed to virtually visit the child.
The telephone continues to remain the most common mode of communication but other methods such as emails, instant messaging, video conferencing and mails, webcams, social media and photo sharing sites are becoming increasingly common.
The court will consider the child best interest when deciding whether or not to allow virtual visitation.
If the non-custodial parent does not have visitation rights, it is unlikely that he or she will be allowed virtual visitation.
Pros and Cons
Virtual visitation has both pros and cons. It can have an enriching affect on the parent child relationship. It allows the parents to be more involved and participate in the children’s lives and geographical distances become insignificant.
Here are some examples of how virtual visitation can enrich the parent child relationship:
• Assisting the child with home work or school project
• Allows the parent and the child to see each other and their facial expressions
• Allows the parent to see certain memorable events in the life of the child
• Parents can read a bedtime story to the child
• Social media allows the parents and child to know the day to day occurrences in each other’s lives
• Parents can witnesses live events in which the children are participating
While virtual visitation is of great use when the non-custodial parent is absent, it can result in a replacement of physical visitation instead of supplementing physical visitation. A parent who wants to move away from the other parent may use virtual visitation as an excuse but it may not be in the best interest of the child for that parent to move away.
Virtual visitation can change the way we look at visitation. It supplements physical visitation and allows the parents and the child to be more connect with the day to day activities of each other.
Speak to an experienced attorney if you are considering virtual visitation. The attorney can inform you about the laws in your state and also advice you on the pros and cons.