Virtual visitation and child custody

Over the last decade, the widespread use of smartphones, tablets and other similar devices have revolutionized the way that we communicate and spend time together. Not only do we see these changes in our professional and creative lives, but also in our closest relationships. For parents who share custody of a child, or may soon raise a child separately, these means of communication present both benefits and drawbacks, and deserve careful consideration.

Courts now recognize that communication through devices like these has great value to parents as they raise their children, especially in instances where parents do not live physically close to each other. In the legal setting, this is referred to as virtual visitation.

As you work towards your custody agreement, be sure to examine the benefits and potential drawbacks of virtual visitation in your own circumstances, to help protect and enhance your rights as a parent and strengthen your relationship with your child through this difficult season.

Benefits of virtual visitation

Virtual visitation allows a parent to spend time with a child over long distances, helping strengthen the connection between them. Previous generations of parents missed out on many of the small moments in a child's life if they were not physically there to witness them. Through virtual visitation, you can see your child blow out the candles on a birthday cake or tell you about what he or she learned in school that day.

This kind of regular face-to-face interaction helps fill in the gaps for parents who might otherwise miss large chunks of their child's growth. You may now read your child a story from many miles away, and see their reactions in real time, or you may get to witness special events you can't be physically present for, such as sports events and recitals.

When used correctly, as a supplement to physical custody or visitation, virtual visitation is a great tool for the modern parent.

Supplement or substitute

Unfortunately, some parents see virtual visitation as a way to keep a child to themselves or justify a relocation with the child that otherwise may not receive approval. Virtual visitation should not replace any physical parenting time, but should instead supplement the physical time a parent enjoys with the child to deepen the relationship.

Some parents may use the benefits of virtual visitation to argue that relocating does not threaten the child's other parental relationship. If you do not take steps to push back against this, you may see a court approve a relocation that significantly affects your physical time with the child you love.

Be sure to consider all sides of this issue as you build your own custody plan, to keep your rights as a parent protected and your child's best interests safe and secure.

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