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.
Does your ex-spouse pit your child against you? Does your ex-spouse speak negatively about you to your child? Are you constantly being denied visitation for no reason? These are signs of parental alienation and, if this is happening in your life, you need to take steps to combat it before it gets worse. A child needs both a mother and a father — don’t give up on your rights to see your child and fight for child custody and visitation even if your ex-spouse is trying to alienate you from your child.
Parental alienation is often prevalent in child custody disputes. It is usually defined by a campaign of denigration and hatred by one parent against the other parent. Family law judges will recognize this as a factor in determining the outcome of a child custody dispute, so if it is happening to you, there are some options available to help you. If custody has not yet been decided, make sure the judge knows what is happening. Keep a diary and provide specific evidence.
Some other options include:
- Request a child custody evaluation ― A psychiatrist could profile both parents and present findings to the court regarding the child’s ability to form a relationship with each parent.
- Request mediation ― You can present the dispute to a mediator who can make suggestions and provide recommendations on what the parents can do to protect the child’s best interests. This process often works well because it is less confrontational than litigation.
- Request a guardian ad litem ― This is a special attorney who watches out for your child’s best interests. A guardian ad litem can help work out conflicts and determine what is in the best interest of your child.
- Create a new parenting plan ― If you already have a parenting plan in place and it is not protecting your rights, your attorney can help you create a new plan that includes specific protections for time with your child.
All parents have a right to a meaningful relationship with their child, so if you are being wrongfully excluded from your child’s life, consult with an experienced San Antonio child custody attorney to determine the best course of action to remain in your child’s life.