November 2010 Archives

November 18, 2010

Economy A Factor In Virtual Visitation Decision

"Virtual visitation" is a term that didn't exist until fairly recently. It refers to using media like webcams and Skype to create a virtual environment in which distant parents can connect with their children. 

A recent Findlaw.com article describes a New York case in which a judge granted a divorced mother's request for permission to move with her three children to Florida, despite the fact that the children's father would continue to live in New York. As a condition of the moveaway order, the mother had to agree to allow the children to visit with their father via Skype, an Internet service that allows for live videoconferencing. The judge noted that economic conditions justified the move, as the parents' house was underwater, employment prospects were dim, and the mother had supportive family in Florida. 

Virtual visitation laws are on the books in six states: Utah was first, followed by Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. Other states have laws pending, and it seems only a matter of time before all states include virtual visitation in their custody statutes. Just as with in-person visitation, courts will set schedules for virtual visitation, and parents must make the kids available for time with the other parent.