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Does virtual visitation satisfy child custody arrangements?

Spending quality time with children is often a priority for parents in New Mexico and elsewhere. While this is usually not a problem when the parents are married, when divorce occurs, parenting time is often constrained, resulting in unequal shared time. Although parents can agree to equal custody following divorce, certain circumstance could make the situation complex or difficult. If one parent needs to move to another town or relocate to another state or country for a job, this could make equal shared custody difficult to uphold. Thus parents might have to become creative with their long-distance visitation with their children.

Does virtual visitation satisfy child custody arrangements? As the name implies, virtual visitation involves the use of technology by a parent to keep in contact with a child. This involves emails, phone calls and video messaging. It is typical for custody arrangements today to include something regarding this type of communication; however, if a parent is unable to spend time in-person with his or her child, this situation needs to be spelled out more specifically in the agreement.

If a court orders virtual visitation or a state has specific virtual visitation laws, these agreements are meant to supplement rather than replace traditional in-person parent-child interaction. Despite that, such arrangements could be considered if in-person parenting time is constrained. Virtual visitation would be unlikely to meet the normal terms of the original agreement, but courts could base their decisions on the factors involved in the situation.

Through virtual visitation, parents could still carry out activities normally done in person. This includes reading a bedtime story, helping a child with homework, being able to view after school programs, awards and special achievements, watching the child play and being able to communicate on a daily basis.

While virtual visitation cannot replace in-person visitation, it is a possible alternative to address child custody issues if a parent suddenly has to move or has a significant change in his or her work schedule. Parents seeking to supplement custody orders or address changes that impact current orders should understand their available options.

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