Virtual Visitation Rights: A New Trend in Child Custody Cases

Robin Williams, in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire, realizes a parent’s worst nightmare: Following a divorce, a court order prevents him from ever seeing his children. He realizes he cannot live without seeing them and concocts an elaborate plan — he impersonates an elderly nanny to care for them after school — just to remain in their lives.

While Williams’ story is pure fiction, the reality is many divorces lead to child custody battles. Child custody battles are especially difficult if one parent has to move for work or if the divorce process has been particularly confrontational.

Technological Advancements

Ten years ago parents had to pick up the phone or drive over to their ex-spouse’s residence in order to see their children. However, advances in technology have increased the ways parents can communicate with a child, often states or countries apart.

Services such as Facebook and Skype, or products like Smartphones, are making it easier for divorced parents to remain in contact with their child. However, these new products and services necessitated changes in child custody and visitation laws.

Virtual Visitation Laws

An ABC report states several states have either passed, submitted or drafted laws for virtual visitation rights. These laws primarily benefit noncustodial parents who lost a custody battle during the divorce proceedings.

A parent, in order to receive virtual visitation rights, must petition the court for permission and cover the cost of providing the child with the proper equipment, although this requirement may vary from state to state. Assuming the court grants the petition, a parent may take advantage of webcams and the ability for instant video conferencing on a cellphone.

This helps both parent and child to make a phone call much more personal and much more meaningful than was possible in the past.

Virtual visitation laws do have some opposition. quoted David Levy, the president of the Children’s Rights Council, who believes, among other things, granting virtual visitation to a parent makes it easier for him or her to move away from the child.

With or without this opposition, child custody battles are never easy and can be very stressful for both parent and child. People who need help with a divorce or a child custody battle should have an experienced family law attorney as an advocate for their rights

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