Charles Hofheimer, Attorney
The Affect Virtual Visitation Has on Virginia Child Custody
Virtual visitation is an emerging trend that's likely to have an impact on Virginia child custody cases, but it's important to look at this method of visitation from all angles, with the best interests of the children in mind.
Divorce brings with it many changes. The parties may face financial challenges that lead them to seek new employment, and at times, relocation is part of the process of rebuilding a life after divorce. In the wake of these changes, it can be difficult for the non-custodial parent to be able to accommodate a generous physical visitation schedule.
Technology has made it easier for parents to stay in contact with their children when they can't be physically present with them. Webcams and applications, like Skype, have revolutionized long distance relationships of all kinds, including the non-custodial parent-child relationship. With a webcam, the parent and child can see and hear each other at the same time, so it provides an intimate, close-to-real-life communication experience.
For years, divorced parents have been making use of video chats to fill the gaps between court-ordered, in-person visits, but now some family courts are making “virtual visitation” part of the legal child custody plan. For example, in a recent New York case, the mother – who was moving to Florida with the child – was ordered by the court to allow the father to communicate with the children through Skype. This was one of the conditions of the judge approving her plans to relocate, despite the father's objections.
While Virginia has not yet written virtual visitation into family law just yet, many states are considering making it part of their child custody rulings. Supporters of video visitations say that this form of communication enables the parent and child to feel closer, and lends it to deeper and more meaningful conversations than a telephone or e-mail would.
It works especially well for young children who may get easily bored or tongue-tied on the phone, but who are often more willing to show off their new toys or make funny faces with their parent on webcam.
While virtual visitation may sound like a great way to enrich a custody plan, not everyone thinks that court-ordered Skype sessions are the best idea. The main complaint is that video conferencing with kids will take the place of face-to-face visits or that courts will be more willing to approve a parent's long-distance move on the premise that real-time video communication can take the place of face-to-face interaction.
Whether or not virtual visitation becomes part of Virginia child custody law, it can be a way to help parents and children feel more connected during times when they're apart from each other.
Contacting a Virginia Divorce Attorney
Throughout your divorce proceedings, you’ll naturally have a lot of questions specific to your circumstances. Get your questions answered by requesting one of our free divorce guides for women or reserving your seat at our monthly divorce seminar.
The Virginia divorce attorneys at Hofheimer/Ferrebee are committed to fighting for your rights, assisting in child custody disputes, and advocating that you receive everything you are entitled to and need in order to start your new life. Call for a consultation today at 757-425-5200.
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