Can I Call my Child while they have Visitation with Non-Custodial Parent?
Virtual Visitation - Telephone, Video Calls, Texts, and E-mails
What is Virtual Visitation?
The growing use of Telephone, Video Calls, Texting and Emails during Parenting Time
An important aspect of visitation is not only when you will see your children but also when you will be able to speak to them during the times in which your former spouse has parenting time. In the past, this concern was addressed solely through telephone visitation. With the advancements in technology, however, parents and children may now also communicate via text, email, video chat, and probably even more new ways in the future.
Experience has taught us that these virtual visitation options can be a source of conflict, especially if they are not discussed ahead of time. Some parents are reluctant to share any of their parenting time with the other parent. Others abuse this privilege by monopolizing a child's time during the other parent's parenting time. Others have no problem allowing their children to communicate with their other parent at any time today, but those feelings may change over time. Accordingly, it is prudent to add clauses to allow for and define, this communication.
Consider putting a clause in your settlement agreement addressing telephone, email, and other virtual visitation options. Such provisions may address how often, how long and at what times these communications between the parent and child will be appropriate. Additionally, consider addressing issues such as eavesdropping by one parent while the children are speaking to the other parent.
Virtual Visitation Methods
Consider limits regarding the number of times calls are allowed per day, the length of the calls, and a specific time for a call to provide a routine schedule for the child to anticipate, such as a good night call to ease a child's discomfort.
Email can be an excellent way for parents and children to send information back and forth, such as schoolwork that a child is particularly proud to display. The advantage of email is that it allows the parents and children to communicate at any time of day, which can be especially helpful with busy children's extracurricular schedules.
Texting can be a handy mode of communication, particularly with teenagers. If you have children who are always on the go and do not take time to pick up their phones, send a quick text just to let them know you are thinking about them. Whether or not they respond, you may put a smile on their face on a day that they would otherwise not have time to stop and think about you.
Although the options keep evolving from Skype to Facetime and Zoom, the concept remains the same. These modern options enable the parent and child to physically see each other, which can be especially important when physical visitation is for long blocks of time, such as summer vacation and school holidays. Additionally, this communication mode allows children to show the parent schoolwork, projects, and other items related to a child's life, merely than just describing them. As such, this option should start to become the preferred method of communication.