Evolving technology factoring into non-custodial visitation rights

A recent article in the Washington Times says that “the technological genie is out of the bottle” in a rapidly evolving area of family law, and that courts across the country need to embrace the changes to best promote the interests of many families and children.

Specifically, what is being alluded to is the necessary recognition and acceptance by the courts of 21st century communication methods that are now commonplace and help allow for improved interaction between non-custodial parents and their children.

Those would be what most people already engage in routinely or are familiar with to some degree — things like email, Facebook, Skype videoconferencing, texting and so forth.

Many family law practitioners and commentators note that technology is increasingly coming into play in child custody and visitation matters, especially in the communications between children and parents who are living hundreds — if not thousands — of miles away.

Many courts already recognize this and are amenable to granting visitation rights under a parenting plan that allows for such distant contacts — often called “virtual visitation” — between a child and non-custodial parent.

That courts are increasingly recognizing the utility of electronic visitation in keeping family members close and promoting best interests within a family is hardly surprising, given these numbers: A recent study indicates that about 25 percent of all children in separated or divorced families in the United States have one parent living in another city or state. That amounts to approximately 10 million children who would not have regular contact with a non-custodial parent except through virtual visitation.

Only six states thus far — not including Georgia — have enacted electronic visitation laws. Georgia judges, though, frequently make accommodations for virtual visitation, and the state, along with many others, is moving toward legislation on the matter.

Source: Washington Times, “Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option,” Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012

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