Divorced parents may have difficulty arranging a child visitation schedule that meets the needs of all involved. Several factors come into play including where the parents reside, work schedules, and what will be the best routine for the child. Additionally, parents have to consider how to handle birthdays, holidays, and vacations.
Although in-person visitation is always the most desirable, when that is not a possibility technology provides additional options for parents wanting to interact with their children.
Often called “virtual visitation” the term encompasses a broad array of technological tools that can be used to facilitate communication between parents and their children. Virtual visitation is particularly well suited for situations where one parent is serving abroad in the military, or the parents live too far apart for frequent in-person visits.
In 2007, Texas became one of only a handful of states that have a law on the books specifying conditions for “electronic communication” with a child. The Texas law explains that “electronic communication” includes “communication facilitated by the use of a telephone, electronic mail, instant messaging, videoconferencing or webcam.”
Common Technologies Used for Virtual Visitation
- Skype: free software application used for making calls over the internet which also allows for videoconferencing
- Google Video Chat: free service similar to Skype, Google users can video chat through their Gmail, iGoogle, or other Google account
Of course, parents do not need permission to visit with their own children online, but if divorced parents are unable to come to an agreement regarding electronic communication, the court can order such time to be set aside in the parenting plan.
Source: Texas Family Code §153.015