Online video calling services and social media sites have greatly increased Americans’ connectivity to family, friends and colleagues. While most find these services a convenient way to keep in touch, for non-custodial parents that live in a different state than their children, video calling and social media are essential tools for staying connected to their kids and maintaining strong parent-child relationships. This type of communication is known as virtual visitation, and awarding such visitation is an increasingly popular child custody stipulation.
What Is Virtual Visitation?
Virtual visitation is a wonderful way for out-of-state, non-custodial parents to maintain close relationships with their children. Often, geographical distance between parents and children strain this important relationship. According to statistics from the National Center for State Courts, 25 percent of the 35 million children with separated, divorced or single parents have a parent that lives in a different city. As a result, 10 million children do not get face time with their non-custodial parent.
In the late 1990s, family law courts started awarding non-custodial parents virtual visitation. Virtual visitation rights entitle non-custodial parents to video calling and social media contact with their children. Currently, six states have virtual visitation laws in effect – Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin – and 22 others are considering such legislation.
When a family law judge awards virtual visitation rights, he or she will also outline how frequently these visits will occur and how long they will last. Most virtual visitation laws also include protections for children to help prevent abuse and harm. Like other child custody decisions, virtual visitation decisions are made in the best interests of the child.
How Does Virtual Visitation Strengthen Relationships?
As some out-of-state, non-custodial parents have experienced, reduced visits and time with children often erodes relationships with kids, making infrequent visits awkward. Virtual visitation allows non-custodial parents and children to share in everyday joys and sorrows like they did before the parents separated. Children can share report cards, soccer game scores and problems with friends or school with their parent on a video call or through social media . Keeping non-custodial parents in the loop helps enrich the relationship between parent and child.
Parents that live apart from their children should seriously consider pursuing virtual visitation rights. If you would like to learn more about how virtual visitation works in Virginia, please contact an experienced Richmond family law attorney.