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Bringing visitation into the new technological age

Most parents wish to be as much a part of their children's lives as possible. This includes witnessing important milestones as well as everyday routine contact. By actively participating in your child's daily life, you are taking the initiative toward ensuring that your child's best interests are always given priority.

In many instances, one's parental role and responsibilities may change because of a divorce or a breakup of the relationship with the other parent. After the end of the parental relationship, the two parties must then work out who will care for the children, how they will be cared for and also determine how much time each parent will spend with the children. Luckily, if you are facing such circumstances, the expansion of technology is now available to increase your opportunity to see your child.

What is virtual visitation?

Now, alongside traditional custody and visitation, there is a new phenomenon called virtual visitation. Virtual visitation allows you to interact with your child using smartphones, email, messaging services and other technological apps. In Texas, legislators have enacted laws that allow courts to order virtual visitation in child custody cases.

The non-custodial parent typically makes virtual visitation requests. These types of visits should supplement and not replace face-to-face time with the child. Because it is similar to traditional visitation, it is not likely to be ordered in cases where visitation is deemed not to be in the best interest of the child.

What are the benefits of virtual visitation?

There are many benefits of virtual visitation. Because technology is accessible to many, it can greatly increase your opportunity to interact with your child. A parent will be able to check in on many small (but important) events in the child's life, such as a lost tooth, a homework project or to tell a bedtime story. Virtual visitation can also help a far-away parent see events as they are happening with services like Facebook live.

Are there any potential drawbacks?

Potential drawbacks do exist for virtual visitation. Some fear that parents may try to use virtual visitation to replace in-person visits instead of adding to them. Others worry that a judge may decide to allow the unnecessary relocation of a child because of access to this form of visitation.

What if I wish to include virtual visitation in my custody arrangement?

If you wish to include virtual visitation in your custody arrangement, you probably want to introduce the concept before you finalize the child custody negotiation process. It will likely be helpful to understand the laws surrounding virtual visitation in your area. By gaining an understanding of all child custody laws that are applicable to your unique situation, you are likely to increase your odds of maintaining a healthy, happy relationship with your children and preserving their best interests.

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