After divorce, a former spouse may move out of town, out of state, or even out of the country. When children are involved, this can be devastating for a noncustodial parent. The coordination of a visitation schedule becomes exponentially harder when parents live far apart and, inevitably, one parent spends much less time with the child. In 2007, Texas became one of the first states to enact a virtual visitation law to improve parent-child relationships.
Texas’s virtual visitation statute defines electronic communication with a child and permits a court to grant virtual visitation rights to a noncustodial parent. Electronic communication with a child can include phone calls, email, instant messaging and video chatting. Virtual communication with a child may be the only way for some parents to frequently interact with their children. For a parent who serves in the military, virtual visitation is especially important. Services such as Skype make interaction between parents and children simple when the parent is serving in a foreign country, and these videoconferencing services allow virtually face-to-face communication between parent and child.
Parents do not need court permission to interact with their children virtually. However, couples who are unable to agree on the amount of virtual interaction between a child and parent may benefit from court-ordered visitation time. To obtain virtual visitation rights, the noncustodial parent must petition the court. Virtual visitation orders are not automatically granted. By ordering that time be set aside for virtual interaction, courts are helping to strengthen relationships between children and noncustodial parents. As technological advances continue to be made, the opportunities for virtual communication continue to improve for noncustodial parents and their children.
If you are interested in obtaining virtual visitation rights, an experienced family law attorney at the San Antonio law firm of Joseph P. Appelt can provide the guidance you need.