Technology has transformed our lives in countless different ways. One of the many benefits of modern technology is that it provides additional tools for parents who do not live with their children on a full-time basis. Through a smartphone — which the Pew Research Center has found that more than 90 percent of U.S. adults under the age of 50 currently own — a parent can carry on a video conversation with a child who lives in a different town, county, or even the other side of the country.
Family law courts are increasingly dealing with disputes over electronic communication. This issue is sometimes also referred to as “virtual visitation.” If you are currently in the middle of a child custody and/or visitation case in Northern Virginia, you may be granted some form of ‘virtual visitation’ rights on top of any in-person visitation.
Virginia Law: Protecting the Best Interests of the Child
Under Virginia law (Virginia Code § 20-124.3), family law courts are required to make custody and visitation arrangements in accordance with the state’s best interests of the child legal standard. As noted by Virginia’s Judicial System, courts will consider a number of different factors in awarding child visitation rights — from practical implications, such as dealing with scheduling and logistics, to safety issues, such as considering any past misconduct by either parent.
Virginia law presumes that it is best for children to have an ongoing and positive relationship with both of their parents. Electronic communication can make it easier for non-custodial parents to foster that type of relationship with their children and it is the rare parent who does not request to communicate in that manner. When requested, Virginia court will award time-scheduled “virtual visitation” as a parental right. In other words, a non-custodial parent could be awarded regular communication time — perhaps through a pre-scheduled phone call or video messaging call — with their children, usually in a much more frequent basis than “in person” visitation.
With Issues of Electronic Communication, Parents Should Be Ready to Work Together
Making electronic communication between parents and children work effectively requires some level of cooperation from everyone involved. To promote a healthy atmosphere for the children, parents should generally avoid open conflict regarding virtual visitation and the scheduling of phone calls or video messaging sessions. Early action and collaborative work is generally the best way to find solutions in this type of situation. By making schedules and arrangements that work for everyone, parents can use electronic communication as a tool to help build the best possible environment for their children. Parents involved in a dispute over electronic communication should not hesitate to seek professional legal support.
Speak to a Northern Virginia Child Custody Attorney Today
At Duff & Kronfeld, P.C., our Fairfax child visitation lawyers are proud to be strong advocates for parents. No matter the nature of your specific situation, we are prepared to protect your rights and help you find the best solution. For a fully confidential child custody & visitation consultation, please contact our legal team today. With an office in Fairfax, we represent parents all over Northern Virginia, including Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince Willian Counties.