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Virtual visitation: What you should and should not do

We live in an age where it is easier than ever to stay in touch with people, thanks to tools like video chats, messaging apps, social media and cellphones in almost everyone's pocket. And these tools don't just help us reconnect with high school friends or update Instagram.

Technology also helps parents and kids maintain a strong connection during difficult times, including the transition into new custody and visitation arrangements. If you are getting divorced and expect to have custody or visitation, then you will want to understand virtual visitation, as well as what you should or should not do to make it work best for your family.

What you should do

The first thing you should do when it comes to virtual visitation is to address it in your parenting plan. This formalizes your decisions and makes it easier to enforce any limits or rules you set.

You should also be clear about the guidelines. Can kids text either parent whenever they want? Will parents be allowed to FaceTime a child every night before bedtime, or only under certain circumstances or for a specific period of time? Make use of the technological tools at your disposal, but do not let them interfere with parenting time.

What you should not do

You should not view virtual visitation as a replacement for traditional in-person visitation. It should supplement regular visitation and increase the various channels of communication; it should not give parents permission to refuse or skip face-to-face interactions.

You should not interfere with virtual visitation, either. Allow your child to communicate openly and honestly when he or she is spending time with the other parent. Do not spy on them, censor them or make them feel badly for staying connected to the other parent.

Reinforce your efforts and parenting plan with legal support

It can be very difficult to know what to expect when it comes to things like creating a parenting plan and addressing virtual visitation, as you have likely never been through this process before. In order to get a more informed perspective on these matters, you can discuss them with an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your rights and avoid costly missteps.

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