Given today’s tough economic times, it may come as no surprise to Pennsylvania residents that parents find themselves living in different cities from one another or further apart from one another than they expected. If the parents are in a relationship, it is easy for them to keep in touch with their children while away from them. However, those who are no longer together may struggle to maintain a relationship with their children as the distance grows. One way around this is to discuss virtual visitation in child custody decisions.
As the name implies, virtual visitation refers to using technology to keep in touch with one’s child or children. In this situation, technology can include video calling, emailing, instant messaging or video mailing. Both newly divorced parents can attempt to include these requests in their upcoming child custody awards or relocating parents can request to alter their plan. Either way, technology can be used as an alternative to an in-person visit.
The concept is growing in popularity, as video calling gains momentum. While some states have enacted laws allowing courts to order it in custody decisions, those without laws on the books have still used virtual visitation to extend parental rights.
It’s important to keep in mind it is a way to add to, not replace physical visits. In addition to virtual visits, parents should still be available to meet with their children. Like all child custody decisions, courts look to the best interest standard to decide if virtual visitation is the best way forward without affecting children negatively.
There is no doubt virtual visitation can improve the parent-child relationship, as it allows parents to read bedtime stories to their children or witness important sporting events or concerts. However, this may not be the best approach for every family, which is why discussing one’s situation with an experienced attorney may be one way to create a custody agreement that works best.