As many New Jersey parents know, staying involved in their children’s lives is an important issue after a divorce. Child custody will often involve visitation plans that are approved by the court. Some noncustodial parents hoping to share more fully in their child’s life are asking that virtual visitation be incorporated in the parental custody plan.
Virtual visitation makes use of telephonic and electronic communications through a variety of Internet options. The wide use of texting and social media, including Twitter and Facebook, are choices that may be used. In addition, webcams on services such as Skype make it possible to communicate in new and innovative ways. Some jurisdictions are dealing with such requests in different ways. Some states have already enacted virtual visitation laws that allow the courts to consider virtual visitation directly. Other state courts allow virtual visitation to be a part of the custody agreement.
Most courts agree that virtual communication does not replace actual visits and is not a substitute for regular visitation when the custodial parent moves to another area. However, virtual visitation does enable noncustodial parents to interact with their children on a frequent basis. Using this format, it might be possible for a parent to hear a child play a musical instrument, read them a nighttime story or share an interesting event.
The parameters of virtual visitation might be individualized, but both parents must approve it. In addition, it should be made available on a reasonable basis with the child’s interaction uncensored. Incorporating virtual visitation into a parenting plan might be important for both the child and the parent. As the law is emerging on this issue, consulting an attorney concerning this method may be advisable. The attorney may help a parent request the court to accept virtual visitation as an adjunct to a regular visitation schedule.