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Virtual Visitation

Virtual Visitation

Technology plays a role in parenting time and court-ordered child visitation cases

VIRTUAL VISITATION?

VIRTUAL VISITATION?

Communication has been continually transformed by technology, and the topic of “virtual visitation” is being examined in divorce cases across the United States.  The use of internet technology such as video chat or instant messaging would facilitate contact between the noncustodial parents and their children beyond the confines of regular physical visitation.

Arizona presently does not have a formal law that addresses virtual visitation, but the courts are examining the issue as it affects parenting time and how it could change the child custody scene.

Typically, virtual visitation is used in addition to the physical visitation time, not a replacement for it. Granting virtual visitation is not likely if a court would not order regular physical visitation.

Proponents for virtual visitation indicate the extended contact a noncustodial parent could receive —- like the ability to “virtually” read bedtime stories, and attend school happenings —- outside of their scheduled parenting time.  Opponents are concerned that parents may use the virtual visitation as a method to convince the courts to approve a long-distance move from the children.  Other virtual visitation rights conflicts are concerning, especially in disagreeable divorce situations (not allowing the contact to happen, for example).

As in all family law issues and cases regarding children, the court (and parents) should focus on what is in the best interest of the child.  Using virtual visitation could be recommended if it is the best option and serves the best interest of the child. In some cases where parents live far away from each other, it may be a viable option.  Virtual visitation, however, should not be treated as a substitute for physical parental interaction.