In divorce cases that involve children, custody arrangements are made that makes it possible for both parents to actively take part in their children’s lives. However, unseen events can occur, such as a job or military transfer, that makes it impossible for a non-custodial parent to physically be a part in his child’s life.
Approximately 18 million children in this country have separated or divorced parents and another 17 million children have parents that have never been married. Of these children, one out of four have a parent living in another city or state. The number of children who do not have face-to-face contact with one parent is estimated to be ten million.
With modern technology, even though these parents cannot physically be with their children, they can stay in touch. Today we have many modern tools of communication, which include phone texting, email, Facebook, and video hookups with webcams. These tools of “virtual visitation” assist in making long-distance parenting easier.
Florida’s virtual visitation statute allow courts to decide relocation cases based on a wide range of factors, and one of these factors is that of the availability of virtual visitation. Utah enacted one of the first electronic visitation laws, and now six states have laws covering virtual or electronic visitation rights.
There are, of course, two sides in the virtual visitation issue. Those for virtual visitation say that it does provide a way to strengthen the bond between parents and children, but it isn’t meant to replace face-to-face contact, but just to fill in between holidays and summer breaks.
Those against the practice says the law gives some non-custodial parents an excuse to move away, and use the promise of virtual visitation to receive approval from the court to relocate. There are also cases where virtual visitation has been used to spy on one parent. The non-custodial parent will ask a child to open closets or walk around the house so he or she can see if the custodial parent has a new significant other.
Whatever your feelings or opinion on virtual visitation, it is her to stay and it does give long-distance parents a way to communicate and “virtually visit” with their children no matter how far apart physically they may be.