Virtual Child Visitation
What Is Virtual Child Visitation?
Over the past few decades, the ways in which Americans communicate and connect with each other have changed dramatically. Emails and texting have generally replaced physical letters and short, informative phone calls. Nearly every adult in America has access to a cell phone, and the Internet connects individuals in ways that probably would have been perceived as science fiction only a few decades before it became widely available.
It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that child custody and visitation agreements are increasingly addressing the concept of virtual visitation or virtual parenting time. These arrangements provide whichever parent is not physically caring for their child at any given time access to them via virtual means. It does not matter if parents have joint custody or some other arrangement. Virtual parenting time essentially just helps parents and kids remain connected and involved in each other’s lives when they are not physically located under the same roof.
Creating Virtual Parenting Time Expectations
Virtual parenting time clauses contained within custody agreements are generally approved by the courts unless they interfere with a child’s best interests. For example, if both parents agree that the child uses Skype each evening to say a ten-minute “goodnight” to whichever parent is not present, this term would likely be considered reasonable. However, if one parent insisted that the call occurs at 10:30 pm in order to accommodate his or her social calendar, this term would be rejected in favor of the child’s best interests in getting a good night’s rest.
It is generally a good idea to set expectations that are both reasonable and flexible when need be. It is also important to take into account your child’s unique needs when setting virtual parenting time expectations. For example, if your child attends church services every Sunday morning, it will not make sense to schedule a call during this time. Having a set schedule can help your child to count on a consistent routine, but that schedule needs to make sense for him or her.
In addition to calls and virtual chats that allow you to see each other, you may want to think about whether email, social media, texting, and other forms of virtual connection will or will not serve your child’s best interests. Every family is different, so please consider your family’s unique needs carefully.
Child Custody and Visitation Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about child custody or visitation, please consider connecting with an experienced family law attorney. Every family’s situation is unique, so it is always important to look at issues with a child’s best interests at heart. Arrangements that may serve one family perfectly well may not be ideal for another family. Similarly, simply because many families have the ability to physically see each other regularly does not mean that physical proximity is a luxury afforded to every parent-child relationship. Working with an experienced family law attorney will help to ensure that the resolutions to your child custody and visitation challenges reflect both your family’s unique needs and your child’s particular interests whenever possible.