Some states have formally recognized child virtual visitation, which refers to visitation via electronic means. It does have its benefits, chief of which is that a parent doesn't have to miss visitation with their child just because they live far away. However, it does have its limitations, which include these three:
Parents May Use It to Substitute Face-To-Face Visitation
Virtual visitation is good, but it isn't ideal and shouldn't replace face-to-face visitation. There is a concern that the more virtual visitation becomes commonplace, the more people will use it instead of physical visitation. Physical interaction, which includes but is not limited to touch, is necessary for early childhood development and encourages bonding between parents and children. Since both parents are responsible for a child's well-being, both of them should provide this form of interaction. In fact, some parents may use it as a relocation excuse because they assume the other parent will maintain contact with the child via virtual visitation.
Parental Interference Is Easy
Another concern with virtual visitation is that it is more prone to parental interference than physical visitation. This is especially true with indirect interference. Here are four ways in which a parent can indirectly interfere with virtual visitation:
- Failing to charge a cell phone or claiming that the phone isn't charged when it is time for the other parent to talk with the child.
- Claiming that a personal computer is malfunctioning so that video calls with the child becomes impossible.
- Logging into a child's email to read their communication with the other parent—an absent parent who suspects this form of interference may find it difficult to communicate frankly with their child for fear that their communication may be used for future litigation.
It Only Favors Older Children
Another limitation of virtual visitation is that it isn't very effective for younger children. Virtual visitation often takes the form of phone calls, video chats, social media interactions, and other forms of electronic communication. Unfortunately, you will find it difficult to interact with your one-year-old child using these forms of communication. You may be restricted to phone calls or videos chats if your kid hasn't started reading, but only if the child is receptive to that medium of communication.
Therefore, if the other parent wants you to use virtual visitation, you can use some of the arguments above to encourage physical visitation. As more states put laws about virtual visitation into effect, it's a good idea to work with a child custody lawyer like William Kirby, Family Law Attorney to understand your rights.