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.
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:
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.