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Technology expands child custody options

According to one report, about 18 million children have parents who are either divorced or separated. Another 17 million children have parents who have never been married. About a quarter of those children have a parent living in a different city. Although living in a different city used to pose a greater problem, technology has helped parents stay in touch with their children.

Whether you live in Alabama or elsewhere, going through a divorce can be difficult. However, it becomes even more challenging when couples must settle child custody matters. A report by the National Center for State Courts found that within four years after a divorce, about 75 percent of single mothers relocate.

Now thanks to webcams, Skype, Facebook and cell phones, parents have an easier time communicating with their children even if they live many hours away. Through “virtual visitations” parents can stay in touch with their kids.

A “virtual visitation” is a legal term used in family courts that refers to the right a non-custodial parent has to communicate with their child through electronic means. Courts have been dealing with virtual visitation cases for years since the technology first appeared in the late 1990s. Although some states have electronic visitation laws enacted, more appear to be joining the trend.

Proponents of electronic visitation laws say that virtual visitations are a great way for parents to stay in touch with their children in between visits. Although it does not make up for on-on-one time they spend together, it allows a parent to be a part of a child’s daily life.

Opponents, however, say virtual visitations could be used as an excuse for one parent to move away. Others are concerned that non-custodial parents could use the technology to spy on the other parent.

Parents in Alabama who are nearing divorce would be wise to consult with an attorney who can help settle child custody matters. They can also help parents determine what kinds of options are available to them.

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