The legal landscape of child custody is rapidly changing through advancing technology. Several states, including Texas, have enacted laws that will allow virtual visitation as part of a parenting plan in child custody agreements. Virtual visitation involves software applications such as Skype, webcams, and video phones, and could contribute significantly to maintaining regular communication between parents and children who are separated due to divorces.
Although it is stressed that virtual visitation must never replace in-person visits, it may be the ideal solution for a noncustodial parent whose job obligations take him or her to distant locations. While emails and texting can also maintain regular contact, facial expressions and sharing achievements visually is far more effective. With virtual visitation, parents will be part of every phase of a child’s growth, such as sharing a first missing tooth. A distant mom or dad can even read a child a bedtime story.
Under virtual visitation laws, parents are typically required to be in agreement, and both must encourage the use of the facility. Parents must make themselves reasonably available and allow communication that is not censored by the other parent. This type of visitation is based on the same conditions as physical visitation, and will not be permitted in circumstances that would not typically allow visitation. The best interests of the child will remain the primary consideration of the court.
Virtual visitation would certainly bridge many gaps that had adversely affected children of divorced parents until now. Texas couples who are considering the inclusion of virtual visitation in child custody visitation plans may benefit from consulting with experienced child custody attorneys. This is a recent addition to family law, and it may be wise to be fully informed before requesting the court to include virtual visitation in a divorce decree.
Source: FindLaw, “Virtual Visitation“, Accessed on June 26, 2015