Virtual visitation - the use of electronic technology to aid co-parenting and visitation - has become an approved way for divorced non-custodial parents to stay in touch with their kids when physical visitation is a problem. It is one method of parenting time that a child custody attorney may suggest to a client, and can even be court ordered due to the many ways in which virtual visitation aids communication between a parent and their children. Still, divorce lawyers recommend that some behaviors using this method of visitation be avoided, so parents can maintain the ability to access their children using virtual visitation.
How Technology Helps with Co-Parenting
Because distance and time schedules today may conflict with visitation schedules, parents can take advantage of virtual visitation through the use of various electronic methods. By using video chat, instant messaging, text, and email, a non-custodial parent can easily stay connected with their children even when living apart from them or when unable to meet an established visitation schedule. The many options available with electronic technology, social media, and online gaming, provide numerous ways for a divorced non-custodial parent to stay connected with children and share with them on a day-to-day basis.
Be Aware of the Pitfalls
Divorce attorneys cannot stress enough how important it is to understand that the use of an form of social media and online virtual interaction does come with warnings, especially for parents. What a parent does online can either help maintain a relationship with their children or seriously damage contact with them. This means that a non-custodial parent who chooses to use virtual visitation and other means of online communication to stay in closer contact with their kids must exercise caution and good judgment in their use of any area of the internet. Failing to use good judgment could affect a parent’s ability to stay in contact with their children.
Keeping Safe with Virtual Visitation
To avoid problems arising from the use of social media and other methods of virtual contact with children, child custody attorneys assert that parents must exercise caution. Parents should should always refrain from using harsh language, venting anger or sadness relating to their divorce or former spouse on social accounts, posting inappropriate or intimate photos publicly, or otherwise displaying questionable or malicious behavior. Experienced divorce lawyers also warn against having any type of online dispute regarding the divorce or any family-related matters, as these concerns should be dealt with privately and not on the internet.
Texting and email should always be neutral or pleasant in tone. Any serious issues should be handled in person or using virtual chat, where children and parents can literally see eye-to-eye and discuss things. Virtual chat, such as Facetime or Skype, is a valuable tool that is great for face-to-face contact. It offers a great and positive way for parents to keep up with normal life events, including helping with homework and talking about any problems children may be having.
Virtual visitation and online communication with kids can be beneficial if it is done wisely. When good judgment is exercised, parents have a convenient way to stay in contact with their children, even when physical visitation is not possible. As always, questions about the use of electronic technology can be discussed with a divorce attorney who can advise about the appropriate use of social media and help parents institute a virtual visitation policy that all can follow!
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526