Interacting with one’s children can be difficult enough for parents who still live close to each other after the separation, but those parents, who relocate far away or to another state after the split, can be at a particular disadvantage when wanting to see their children. A new option for non-custodial parents is making headway in the area of child custody parenting plans. Virtual visitation may offer a solution to those parents who live too far from their children to physically see them on a regular basis.
As implied by its name, virtual visitation includes communicating with one’s child or children through electronic and online technology. Email, instant messaging and video conferencing applications, such as Skype and FaceTime, allow a distant parent the ability to remain a constant presence in their child’s life. Several states have already enacted laws related to virtual visitation as a part of the formal parenting agreement, and many others are currently considering such legislation.
These laws are supplemental and are not intended to replace in-person visits; however, by employing the various social networking sites and electronic/online communication tools available, a parent can stay abreast of important milestones and activities related to their children. Some of the benefits to using these 21st century technologies include being able to read a bedtime story to a child or helping him or her with homework. Also, just the mere fact of being able to see the child’s face and expressions makes the effort worth considering. Other benefits include being able to see a child perform in a sporting event, recital, play or some other extra-curricular activity.
Parents who are seeking divorce may want to consider the option of virtual visitation, especially if one parent plans to move far away. Those parents who are already divorced may want to re-examine their current parenting plan and modify it to allow for virtual visitation. In either case, consulting with a lawyer experienced in family law and child custody will help ensure that parent’s rights are protected and that the parent understands all options available to be able to see his or her children more often.