Virtual visitation includes all contact between parents and their children via electronic means. It can be conducted through email, text messages, a chat function like Face-timing or video conferencing on Zoom or Skype.
Virtual visitation isn’t just used to manage long-distance relationships when noncustodial parents are living far away from their children. It is increasingly used to help noncustodial parents strengthen their relationships with their children through frequent contact and conversations that might not otherwise be possible.
Virtual visitation works best, however, when there are some ground rules that everybody follows.
What rules surrounding virtual visitation should be in your parenting plan?
Privacy and reasonable access are the two most important things that need to be maintained when it comes to virtual visitation. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask as you set up your parenting plan:
- Does your child need help operating the electronics? If they do, your co-parent can be asked to help set up the visit and then leave until the visit is over.
- Does your child have their own computer or phone? If so, there should be some rules about when the child can (or cannot) be restricted from using those items as a punishment, since that would make it impossible for virtual visitation to take place.
- What is your child’s schedule? Virtual visitation shouldn’t interfere with your child’s routine. If your child is younger, for example, late-night calls could be inappropriate.
- What privacy rights do you want over your conversation? Your child may not want their other parent reading their text messages to you or viewing their emails.
It’s important to remember that both parents are bound by the same rules, so make sure that whatever you ask to be given in your parenting plan is something that you’re willing to do for your ex-spouse, in return.
When custody negotiations get complicated, it’s wise to get help
An experienced family law attorney often has insights into a specific issue or question that other people lack. When you have a complex custody issue to handle, don’t hesitate to seek some legal guidance.