Parents in Maryland who are going through a divorce might want to consider whether some sort of virtual visitation might have a place in their plan for custody and visitation. Virtual visitation refers to communication between parents and children using technology, such as the phone, email, instant messaging, video conferencing or social media.
The purpose of virtual visitation is not to replace regular in-person contact, although if a parent is not permitted visitation time with the child, virtual visitation is generally also prohibited. In general, when virtual visitation is a factor in co-parenting after a divorce, parents are required to make the visits possible and encourage them. They are usually also required to let the child speak freely with the other parent.
Virtual visitation can have a number of benefits for children and parents. It can give parents, especially noncustodial parents, an opportunity to participate in the child’s life in ways that would not otherwise be available. For example, the parent can read the child a bedtime story or help with homework. The parent could even experience events, such as a recital, without being there. Some reservations about the practice have also been raised. For example, some argue that it could make a judge more likely to approve a parental relocation because the virtual visitation will be used as a substitute.
Reaching an agreement on child custody and visitation can be difficult, but parents should stay focused on the best interests of the child. Courts usually presume that children will benefit from having time with both parents. In some cases, this could mean one parent having primary physical custody and the child spending a few days per week, weekends or alternate weekends with the other parent. In other cases, parents might share physical custody and the child might spend roughly equal time with each parent.