Virtual Visitation

The term, “Virtual Visitation” has slowly, over the years, been introduced into the American court systems and has crossed the border into Canada.

But what is Virtual Visitation?

Virtual Visitation makes use of online tools such as Skype™, FaceTime™ and other technologies to supplement face-to-face visits and phone contacts between non-custodial parents and their children. The use of Virtual Visitation is not meant to replace the face-to-face time a parent has with their children, only to supplement it.

There are those who believe that Virtual Visitation is the next best thing to actually being there for non-custodial parents. The greatest benefit being is that even as a long distance parent, they are able to remain actively involved in their children’s lives. It can reduce children’s stress caused by a move away from a parent they love.

The concept, however, remains controversial. The concerns include fears that this will be used in court to justify a move away by a custodial parent, to reduce face-to-face access time for the non-custodial parent, and even as an excuse to cut child support payments, which are based at least in part on the amount of time each parent spends with a child.

The idea of Virtual Visitation remains “up in the air,” on both sides of the equation. To the custodial parent, the notion of Virtual Visitation may seem threatening. Some custodial parents may not like the idea of the other parent having access to their home - even by a computer. In fact, many custodial parents have objected to the idea of Virtual Visitation rights because it’s also eating into their time with their children.

On the other hand, for the non-custodial parent, who statistically are frequently fathers, Virtual Visitation may seem like a nightmare.  Feminist child advocates are claiming that Web-based technologies are an acceptable proxy for a father’s physical visitation rights.  The courts have, until now, set the bar fairly high when ruling on mobility cases. The Internet may be changing that precedent, which for some parties, may not be for the better. Judges are beginning to ease the conditions in mobility cases based on the fact that the non-custodial parent can simply plug into an Internet connection, and speak to and see their children via Ipads.

Stuart Miller of the American Father’s Coalition told the Associated Press, “This will be another tool for judges to further distance fathers from their children’s lives.”

To some, there is absolutely no way that e-mails or Ipads can replace face-to-face, in person communications, but to others, it is the greatest thing since “sliced bread.”

Feel free to contact me on should you wish to further discuss this issue with a view to implementing Virtual Visitation into your visitation regime.

Revised March 2015