1. Parenting
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Virtual Visitation Options

Alternatives to Traditional In-Person Visitation


After parents separate or divorce, courts may order virtual visitation to allow non-custodial parents to maintain constant contact with their children, especially when frequent in-person visits are difficult due to parents living in different states or cities from their children.

Virtual Visitation

Some examples of virtual visitation are:

  • Web Cameras - Weekly or nightly conversations, via the internet, between a non-custodial parent and his or her child to discuss daily activities such as homework or extra-curricular activities; allows a parent to note visual changes in a child like new haircuts or eyeglasses

  • Instant Messaging - Messages sent via computer with a parent's permission

  • Text Messaging - Older children tend to have cell phones and non-custodial parents may communicate with their children via cell phone text messages

  • Emails - Non-custodial parents can exchange daily or weekly emails with their children

Relocation and Virtual Visitation

A court may alter a custody arrangement, when a non-custodial or custodial parent decides to relocate, either with or without a child. Virtual visitation is helpful in situations where parents and child are no longer living in the same city/state. Additionally, virtual visitation is extremely beneficial for military non-custodial parents to allow continued communication.

Cooperation of the Co-Parent Regarding Alternative Forms of Visitation

It's extremely important to have the cooperation of a custodial parent to have a successful virtual visitation relationship. Often for younger children, a custodial parent will have to set up appropriate equipment for the child and even assist in facilitating the communication.

Downside to Virtual Visitation

Some problems associated with virtual visitation are:

  • Not equivalent to a parent being in the same room as a child
  • Requires the participation of both parents
  • Some non-custodial parents might use virtual visitation as an excuse to avoid face-to-face visits

State Statutes Regarding Virtual Visitation

Many states have statues permitting virtual visitation including:

  • Illinois
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Utah

In the near future, I expect more states to enact virtual visitation statutes, as the internet becomes a larger force and non-custodial parents continue to demand more contact with their children.

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