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 Virtual Visitation

Virtual visitation," as the term implies, is a form of child visitation that requires the use of technology to keep in contact with a child. This type of visitation may include email, video conferencing, video mail, and instant messaging, but typically is detailed as part of a parenting agreement or child custody order.


     Requests for virtual visitation are generally made by the non-custodial parent in situations where the custodial parent seeks to relocate or move out of the area with a child -- thereby interfering with existing parental visitation rights


     Virtual visitation laws are meant to supplement, not replace, traditional in-person parent-time. These laws generally require each parent to: 


                        1.   Permit and encourage virtual visits

                        2.  Make them reasonably available; and

                        3.  Allow uncensored communication with the child.


     Although the telephone is still the easiest and quickest way to communicate, the more technologically advanced ways to engage in virtual visits may include standard electronic communication tools (such as email and instant messaging), webcams, video conferencing, private document sites, social media sites (such as Facebook. Twitter, and Snaptchat), and photo-sharing sites (such as Shutterfly, Picasa, and Kodak Gallery).


      Some of the examples of how this may be used to benefit the parent-child relationship include:

  • Reading a child a bedtime story;

  • Helping with homework or a special project;

  • Seeing subtle facial expressions of a parent or child, such as a smile or frown;

  • A child showing a parent missing teeth, an award, or other special accomplishment;

  • Connecting on social media sites as a way to talk about day-to-day occurrences; and possibly,

  • Witnessing sporting events, piano recitals, and other events live as they are happening.


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