The Internet has changed the world! It allows people to share ideas, market products, report the news and even communicate. So, it’s not surprising that the Internet has come to the rescue of parents and children, who are separated by circumstances and miles, to maintain healthy and happy connections by means of Virtual Visitation.
Virtual visitation is any visitation which uses electronic communication tools and devices to facilitate contact between a parent and his or her child or children. Typically part of a visitation, custody or parenting plan or agreement, this electronic visitation can be completed through videoconferencing, instant messaging, and even e-mail. Think of how Facebook and Twitter were once seen as friend related social networking sites. Now, they can help facilitate visitation between parents and their kids as a result of military deployment, divorce, or other circumstances.
In the United States, virtual visitation has been in existence for decades, but few are really aware of it. While most states have laws regarding texting while driving, a majority do not have statutes which address electronic visitation in their family law sections. Only six states, Utah, Missouri, Wisconsin, Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Illinois, presently have enacted virtual visitation laws.
When courts consider virtual visitation, the issue will not always be financial limitations of a family. A child’s or parent’s work schedule, distances, ability for parents to coordinate visitation, and most importantly, the best interest of the child.
Opponents of virtual visitation claim that it will encourage divorce. Virtual kisses, hugs and smiles will minimize the importance of physical interactions between parents and children. Still, many others advocate this form of visitation and contend that can strengthen parent-child bonds by offering support to long distance relationships. Consider the fact that tough financial times make long distance parent-child relationships almost impossible. With virtual visitation, the cost of train or plane rides are replaced by modems and stable Internet connections.
While more and more courts are realizing that virtual contacts between parents and children are options, some familiar technology names, Skype, FacetimeiChat, and Google VoiceVideo Chat, have become popular vehicles for virtual visitations. Skype, the top virtual visitation application, is easy to use and free. Google Voice and Video Chat can be utilized through G-mail, iGoogle and other popular Google applications. Whenever talking Facetime , an option for those with iPhones, provides video chats while Apple also offers iChat for those who seek to instant message loved ones.
As our global culture becomes more technologically sophisticated, so will legal solutions to real problems. As couples continue to divorce and children are raised in single parents households, ways of support and fostering strong parent-child relations will become increasingly important. While virtual visitation is a slow, but growing trend, it surely helps parents and children stay connected.