Divorce can be difficult on the children of divorcing couples. This is especially true when, after the divorce, one parent moves to a different part of the country. Lawmakers in six states, including Texas, have passed legislation aimed at making this situation easier for both the child and parent.
The Texas law, which many people call "virtual visitation," allows court-ordered child visitation through electronic communications including email, phone calls, instant messaging and videoconferencing through programs such as Skype. Although Texas legislators passed the law almost five years ago, it is becoming increasingly meaningful as technological innovations make electronic communications more life-like. This allows the parent that does not have primary child custody to remain better connected in their child's life.
Texas' virtual visitation law is also becoming more important as larger numbers of divorcing parents are moving farther away from each other. Roughly 10 million children do not regularly spend time with one of their parents because that parent lives in a different city. In these situations, it is important for the non-custodial parent to at least be able to communicate with the children through electronic modes. Otherwise, a lack of contact could jeopardize the parent-child relationship as the parent becomes more disconnected with the everyday happenings of their child.
The Texas law can be very helpful for parents that are moving away from their children. But, courts do not automatically order these visitation rights. Instead, the non-custodial parent must petition the court for such an order. A family law attorney can help a parent get this unique type of visitation rights. While electronic visitation is certainly no replacement for custodial rights, they can be a vital step for parents to maintain healthy relationships with their children.
Source: The Washington Times, "Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option," Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012