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Child custody and virtual visitation

As times change, so do the manner in which courts will deal with family law matters such as visitation arrangements. It is estimated that three out of every four single mothers will relocate at least once while the child is growing up placing distance between the child and the non-custodial parent. The concern is that the non-custodial parent will lose touch with their children over a period of time because of such separations.

A partial solution to this problem has been implemented in six states including Florida and is referred to as "virtual visitation." Virtual visitation allows the non-custodial parent to have rights to communicate with their child by electronic means. The conditions would otherwise be set in the same manner that courts order traditional visitation.

Virtual visitation allows parents to spend time with their child through e-mail, various social media outlets and by webcam. It's a much less expensive form of visitation than requiring a parent to get on a plane or drive hundreds of miles just to see their children. It also allows for more frequent contact with the child in that a parent can use such media outlets whenever necessary.

Virtual visitation obviously cannot be considered a substitute for personal face-to-face contact with the child. It still must be governed by courts and family law attorneys will still have to work with their clients in coming up with agreements that would be acceptable to all parties involved.

Certain critics of virtual visitation feel that parents will use it in order to get the court to approve of relocations that otherwise would not be permitted. Whether one does or does not agree with such a criticism, courts still must keep the best interests of the child as their primary concern when formulating any type of visitation order.

It appears that technology is here to say. That does not mean that family law decisions should receive any less consideration.

Source: The Washington Times, "Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option," by Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012

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