As technology revolutionizes the way we connect with the world and each other, it is also influencing how families communicate after a divorce.
Many divorced parents take advantage of text messages to communicate with each other efficiently while also reducing conflict, but parents can also connect with their children using technology as well, through virtual visitation.
What is virtual visitation?
Virtual visitation is exactly as it sounds. It is a form of visitation that noncustodial parents can have with their children through virtual means, such as video chats. While parents often contact their children through text messages or phone calls, virtual visitation is a formal arrangement parents can even add to their visitation agreement.
In 2009, North Carolina became one of the few states to address virtual visitation as a valid form of visitation. Like any other form of visitation, it should be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of the case, and the timing and frequency of the virtual visits may depend on the following, such as:
- The custody arrangement and division of parenting time;
- The distance between the parents’ homes; and
- Whether there are special circumstances that make in-person visits implausible during certain times.
It is important to note that virtual visitation should not replace in-person visitation time that parents have with their children. It should complement it.
What are the benefits of virtual visitation?
Of course, parents and children wish to see each other face-to-face. There is nothing that can replace that. However, virtual visitation can make it easier for parents to connect with their children.
It allows parents to:
- Simply see and interact with their children, even from afar;
- Help them with homework; and
- Read books together or do other activities.
Virtual visitation could be particularly beneficial for families in these stressful times with North Carolina’s Safer At Home guidelines. Even though parents should continue to follow their current custody or visitation arrangements during these times, considering virtual visitation could be in the best interests of the whole family if a child or parent becomes ill.