Whether by force or by choice, there is a growing number of divorced parents who are relocating to new cities, states, or even countries after their separation is finalized. This puts a strain on the non-custodial parent’s relationship with their children, and can sometimes even impose such a hardship that it destroys the relationship entirely. However, with advances in technology and new state laws, non-custodial parents are getting a renewed chance to be a more present part of their children’s lives.
Virtual visitation, first enacted into law in Utah in 2004, allows non-custodial parents to have access to their children via electronic means such as Skype, iChat, and various other webcam based services and outlets. Of course, as with all matters effecting child custody cases and family court rulings, virtual visitation has its pros and cons.
According to a New York Times article, a Utah man named Michael Gough petitioned a judge to rule in his favor and order his ex-wife to allow him to interact with their young daughter via Skype. Gough was quoted as saying, “Before starting virtual visitation, when I spoke with my four-and-a-half-year-old daughter, our telephone calls lasted only an average of 5 minutes. Now, during video calls, they last an average of 15 minutes and have gone on for as long as 45 minutes.” Gough’s experience demonstrates the importance of using webcam communication to benefit the parent-child relationship in situations where there is a vast amount of distance between both parties. Instances in which there is a physical barrier preventing regular, face-to-face visitation use to cause the quality of the non-custodial parent’s relationship with their children to dwindle, however, that isn’t the case anymore. Instead of a non-custodial parent seeing their offspring a few times a year, they now have the ability to see their children once or twice a week.
Opponents of virtual visitation claim that technology is actually making it harder for non-custodial parents to have a relationship with their children because judges are less inclined to rule in favor of more traditional forms of visitation. Additionally, naysayers believe that virtual visitation will replace standard visitation because it is more convenient and allows for parents to relocate easier post-divorce, and thus, damages the parent-child relationship. As valid as their concerns are, the opponents are only half right. Nothing will even come close to the benefits of traditional visitation and quality time shared between non-custodial parents and their children, and family courts across the country realize this. New York State law dictates that judges have strict guidelines to follow when it comes to relocation with children after divorce, so it is highly unlikely that a court will allow a custodial parent to relocate just because Skype exists and virtual visitation is an option.
There are many custody agreements ordered in family court with stipulations requiring virtual visitation in conjunction with more traditional methods, such as weekend and holiday visits. Agreeing to virtual visitation does not mean a non-custodial parent is forgoing their right to spend quality, in-person time with their children. If you are a parent who is facing a divorce or child custody action, it is best to contact an experienced matrimonial attorney to represent you throughout the proceedings. The lawyers at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. dedicate their careers to advocating on behalf of their clients in both Supreme and Family Court, throughout the five boroughs and Long Island. Do not enter into a matrimonial or custody case, or consent to a settlement, without discussing the matter with Brian or a member of his staff first. Call (718) 875-7584 or (212) 355-0887 to schedule a consultation today!