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Virtual visitation in child custody orders

One of the most difficult elements that Pennsylvania parents who are going through a divorce often face is child custody. In addition to ascertaining financial and legal responsibility, courts often have to sort out such emotional issues as personal care and visitation rights. Modern technology has moved into the issue of child custody with the reality of virtual visitation.

Virtual visitation involves the use of any of the modern text, voice and picture techniques to bring together parents and children who have been separated by a divorce. These include email communications, video mail or conferencing, photographic transmission and such social media outlets as Facebook. Electronic communications create a more realistic and personalized interaction than often can be achieved through the written word or even by telephone. They are particularly useful in cases where children have been relocated a considerable distance from the non-custodial parent.

Virtual visitation can in many ways take the place of a personal visit. Using the available technology, one parent can help a child with homework, discuss personal or school issues, play games and even see an athletic or concert performance. A parent can be given a live glimpse of his or her child, providing an opportunity to check out a missing tooth or look at a new hairstyle. Although it can be highly personalized, virtual visitation should not be considered as a substitute for in-person meetings.

While some states have enacted laws permitting this method of visitation, courts in many other states have also begun to allow it as part of a parenting plan or custody order. A family law attorney who has experience in divorce matters can assist a parent in determining whether virtual visitation would be appropriate.

Source: FindLaw, "Virtual Visitation", accessed on Jan. 21, 2015

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