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What's virtual visitation?

Virtual visitation refers to the way we visit with our children via telephone, video conferencing, email, instant messaging and other forms of electronic and internet-based communication. This designation of visitation rights is usually addressed in modern parenting agreements and child custody orders.

Virtual visitation comes mostly into play in scenarios where the child lives in a different state from the parent. However, virtual visitation request might additionally be included in a new visitation or child custody request, including in situation that involve non-married fathers and spouses who have yet to be divorced but are living separately.

Florida in particular is one state that has already enacted special laws granting courts the power to order virtual visitation rights, referred to as electronic or internet visitation. These laws are primarily intended to supplement in-person visitation rather than replace it. They usually require parents to:

-- Encourage and allow virtual visits

-- Make virtual visitation times reasonable

-- Allow children to communicate with the other parent without being censored.

Probably using the telephone is the fastest and easiest way for children to communicate with their fathers; however, if the appropriate Internet and computer technology are available, a family may want to offer it to facilitate video and face-to-face conferencing.

As always, when making decision regarding virtual visitation, Florida courts are asked to consider the best interest of the children. For example, if normal in-person visitation has not been received by the father, the father will probably not be granted virtual visitation rights either. Florida parents who would like to receive virtual visitation rights, but have yet to get them, may want to contact an experienced family law attorney to help them navigate the issue.

Source: FindLaw, "Virtual Visitation," accessed Sep. 16, 2016

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