Divorce can be especially hard for young children, and the absence of a parent from their daily life can have long-lasting consequences. This absence could be detrimental to their social and emotional development, as well as their academic achievement. Many fathers are aware of the impact their divorce will have on their children. In a case where custody arrangements work against them, they try their best to stay as close to their children as possible.
But staying close to your children is not always easy, especially as life goes on. What if you get a new job and have to move, or get re-married and must now juggle priorities? This is when virtual visitation comes in.
What Is Virtual Visitation?
“Virtual visitation” is an option that allows parents to contact their children using electronic communication to fulfill a custody order. Using various methods, you can interact with your children whenever it is convenient for you.
Some of these methods include:
- Skype instant messenger or video call
- Facebook instant messaging or video chat
- Other social media accounts, such as Twitter or Instagram
- Phone calls
- SMS or text messaging
You can chat with your child about their day at school, share pictures you took during a vacation, help them with their homework, or read them a bedtime story. Many formats, such as Facebook, even allow you to play an interactive game with your child.
Who Can Use Virtual Visitation?
Virtual visitation is often used by the non-custodial parent in a divorce to communicate with their children remotely. It allows the non-custodial parent to relocate and move on with their life while maintaining contact with their child.
Parents with joint custody can use virtual visitation to communicate with their children on the days they don’t get to spend with them. Custodial parents can and do use virtual visitation as well, whether for a quick check-in or just saying good night. Virtual visitations are often part of court orders. The language of the family plan will usually decide the frequency and duration of virtual visits.
How Effective Is Virtual Visitation?
Studies have found that virtual visitation, in general, is viewed positively by both parents and children. Families report feeling more engaged and connected as a result of virtual visitation, particularly with technology such as Skype that allows both participants to see and talk to each other as if in person. Video or internet chats, for example, last longer than phone calls.
Children report feeling a lot happier that they can talk to their parents whenever they want to and that they don’t miss them as much.
Virtual visitation can and should be part of a high quality parenting plan, as it gives children a chance to maintain a strong bond with the absent parent. If both parents are committed to working together to raise their children, it can mean improving the relationship of the entire family.
Some of the ways virtual visitation can enhance your relationship with your child include:
- The addition of facial expression to your regular communication. Facial expressions go a long way in ensuring that an interaction is “personal.” A smile after your child shows you an award from school or after telling you a joke will be remembered for years to come.
- An increased awareness in your child’s life. Even without directly talking to them, you can see what their interests are in social media or what their friends talk about. You can learn about the things that your child sees as important and allows you to remain proactive in interacting with them.
- Improved communication with your child’s other parent. Being aware of your child’s life means you can see if your child is growing up well, alleviating concerns you may have had. You also have the opportunity to discuss concerns if you have them.
- Allowing consistency in your child’s life. It is easier to maintain a schedule of communication if done electronically. There will be less resentment if you, say, can’t make it to a ball game or a recital if you can view it via Facebook Live or watch a video later on.
Are there Virtual Visitation Laws in Virginia?
Virtual visitation is relatively new. States which have not passed specific laws concerning virtual visitation, including Virginia, may still view it as an option, with some courts ruling in its favor. It is important to consider your rights when considering virtual visitation as part of your parenting plan, though. For example, consider the right to private communication or a case where the other parent interferes with your communication attempts with your child.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer Representing Men Only
The Firm For Men is a family law firm well-versed in Virginia custody and visitation laws. Need help with a custody matter or just want to be aware of your rights as a man and father? Our firm is happy to help. Give us a call today at 757-383-9184 and let us put our decade of experience to work for you!