In January 25, 2006, Wisconsin became the second state in the country to pass a law allowing Judges in family court cases to allow virtual (computer) visitation. Although Minnesota has no similar law, even in States where statutory enactments do not provide specific authorization for computer visitation, it may be requested where technology makes such visitation available.
Are you a divorced parent that lives a distance away from your children?
Are you a divorce parent that travels out of town frequently for their work?
Is your parenting time supervised?
Are you a divorce parent that would simply like to communicate with your children more regularly?
Regardless of the reason, when one parent is separated from a child, it can cause a great disruption in their young lives. Children do not always understand why one parent must relocate or why on parent must have supervised visits. What they remember is that one of their parents is no longer there. With the creation of the internet and expanding technology, parents in these situations may now be afforded innovative and creative opportunities to remain a larger part of their children's lives. This is often called "Virtual Visitation," "Virtual Parent-Time", "Internet Visitation", and "Computer Visitation." All of these terms refer to connecting with children over the internet. It can refer to e-mail contact, instant messaging programs, or video and voice conferencing. One common method of communication is through Skype. Skype is a software application that allows users to make voice calls over the Internet and where the other person is a member of teh Skype community, video interaction is available. For those using Apple computers, there is an application that allows Apple users to have "face-to-face_ communication via video conferencing as well.
Certainly, connecting with your child through a computer does not replace personal contact. However, it serves as an effective bridge for parents when frequent personal contact is not possible. With regard to supervised visits, it also serves as a safe medium where contact can be innocuously monitored if necessary. Although virtual visitation has not yet been widely embraced by Courts or Judges, it is coming.
The benefits of computerized parenting time are numerous. First, and perhaps foremost, computer visitation may reduce the psychological impact of separation on a child. Most psychologists will tell you that children often blame themselves when one parent is absent from the family unit. They experience significant separation anxiety and may even internalize that anxiety as guilt or feelings of abandonment. These children often experience serious behavioral problems that can haunt them throughout their childhood.
There are many types of virtual visitation. Any form is possible so long as the technology is reasonably affordable to the parties. Forms of virtual visitation include:
Video calls allow parents to interact with their children in many ways that are preferable to the other methods. By video conference, a parent can see the subtle changes in their children as they grow. They can see their expressions and their emotions. Through video conferencing a parent may even assist their children with their homework, play games or appreciate their latest art project.
If you decide to include ‘Virtual Visitation’ as a part of your parenting time order or if you re seeking an order of the court imposing that obligation divorce, you may wish to include language that is specific and identifies: