What Is Virtual Visitation?

Using Technology to Strengthen Parent-Child Relationships

Technology has been a recent savior for businesses and schools looking to continue their operations during the pandemic. It’s held an equally vital role in keeping families connected while cases continue to climb. While many families are using video chats and phone calls more frequently now, some have long been doing so as a standard and legally mandated part of their split-custody routine.

Texas Laws on Electronic Communication with Child by Conservator

Texas became the third state to formally address and establish guidelines for virtual visitation in 2007 under a provision entitled “Electronic Communication with Child by Conservator.” Parents may agree on the conditions for virtual visitation as part of their joint parenting plan in an uncontested divorce case. If the pairs fail to reach a consensus, Texas courts may also intervene to order “reasonable periods” for parents and children to communicate electronically as a supplement to their custodial time. To make these virtual visitation decisions, courts will evaluate:

  • If the inclusion of virtual visitation is in the best interest of the child
  • If all parties have reasonable access to technology necessary for electronic communication
  • Any other factors deemed relevant by the court

Technology has seen an unbelievable rate of advancement within the few years since the provision was first introduced in Texas. As such, families are changing their preferred platforms for hosting their electronic time together. Whereas in 2007 parents agreed on phone calls, many more are now opting for video calls using Facetime, Skype, and similar applications.

Benefits of Virtual Visitation in a Parenting Plan

Virtual visitation is a powerful tool for parents who may live a great distance from their child or are otherwise unable to see their child as frequently as they’d like. It allows parent-child relationships to flourish regardless of distance between the two.

Even through unofficially using media for digital check-ins, parent-child relationships in shared custody cases may be strengthened as a result of the increased accessibility. Parents can still help with homework, offer advice, and share in celebrating an aced test or little league win.

Still, it’s important to remember that virtual communication is intended to be a supplemental feature of a parenting plan, not a replacement for the invaluable in-person visitation time of a noncustodial parent.

For more information regarding virtual visitation and legal assistance incorporating it in your parenting plan, contact The Springer Law Firm online or by phone at (281) 990-6025.

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