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Technology assists child visitation cases

Rhode Island residents know that divorce is extremely emotional. Furthermore, when the process ultimately splits a family apart, the issue of child custody and child visitation can come become significant.

A study shows that approximately 18 million children have separated or divorced parents. In addition, 17 million children have parents that were never married. Twenty-five percent these children have a parent living in a different city. Because 75 percent of single mothers will move at least once, research ultimately shows that around 10 million children do not have regular face-to-face interactions with one of their parents.

Thankfully, with a little technology, there is a way for some divorced or separated parents to keep in touch with their children. "Virtual visitation" is a newer family law term, which refers to the right of a non-custodial parent to have electronic communication with his or her children. These type of visitation cases emerged in the 1990s as technology began to evolve. Today, they are becoming more and more common.

So far, only six states have specific laws regarding electronic visitation rights. However, 22 more states are in the process of adding similar laws. In states where this is an option, the court may decide the frequency and duration of visitation. Additionally, many protections have been put in place to ensure that the visitation periods are safe for the child.

Critics of these laws indicate that virtual visitation gives some non-custodial parents an excuse to move away. Nevertheless, advocates say that as long as family law courts continue to look out for the best interests of the child, virtual visitation can enhance communications between parents and children that are separated by distance.

When Rhode Island residents are separated from their children, it can be emotionally trying. Fortunately, as technology improves, parents can have more avenues of communication with their loved ones.

Source: The Washington Times, "Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option," Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012

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