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More Parents Staying in Touch with Virtual Visitation

Divorce can be an emotional experience for both spouses. For children, it can be one of the most difficult periods in their life. When one parent moves away from the other and children are involved, however, the process becomes even more complex.

Whether a job opportunity or another relationship drives one parent to relocate with the children, the non-custodial parent often finds himself or herself struggling to stay part of each child’s life. But with the rise of technology, some divorced parents are finding it easier to stay in touch with their children and keep their relationships intact, even from a distance.

Tools like Skype or video chat rooms are increasing in popularity and even a right that parents have in some states. According to InternetVisitation.org, a website devoted to promoting legislative efforts for alternative visitation methods, six states have laws on the books supporting “virtual” or “electronic visitation” rights: Utah, Wisconsin, Illinois, Texas, North Carolina and Florida. Twenty-two other states have efforts underway to enact similar laws.

Utah was the first state to enact an electronic visitation law and Illinois’ law was the latest to go into effect in January 2010. Under the Illinois provision, judges can award virtual visits to the non-custodial parent. These visits can be facilitated by “e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing or other wired or wireless technologies,” provided that the contact is not harmful to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health.

Critics, according to an ABC report, contend that the law is no substitute for a parent being present in the child’s life and can provide some parents with an excuse not to be involved with the child. But advocates argue that for many parents, especially those living distances apart from their children, virtual visitation provides one method of strengthening the bond between the parent and child. The laws were also intended to supplement, rather than replace traditional visitation methods.

Working With an Attorney

Divorce can be a challenging time for parents and children alike. If you are dealing with an impending divorce, child custody, relocation or other family law issue, it is important to discuss your case with an experienced attorney.