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Florida's virtual visitation laws can play role in child custody

A child custody arrangement is often the most important part of a divorce. But for one or both parents, a divorce can coincide with, or soon be followed by, a change in careers. In some cases, this can have a marked effect on a parent's ability to visit with his or her children, perhaps because of the nature of the job or because the parent must relocate in order to take the new position.

But relocation can be complex. The impact on the child custody arrangement must be taken into account, and courts will examine a number of criteria to determine whether a move would be in the child's best interests. Where relocation is permitted, however, parents may find themselves looking for ways to stay in touch with their children and remain a force in their growth and development.

Avenues of long-distance communication, such as the telephone or letter, have been around for many years. But recent technology has vastly improved upon these traditional methods of communication. Now people can use computers and phones to see each other's faces while they talk, or they can carry on a running conversation via text message. States, such as Florida, have adapted to these advances by passing virtual visitation laws that give parents the right to engage in communication with their children using modern technological methods.

Although perhaps an imperfect substitute for in-person conversation, video communication can provide an additional level of closeness for divorced parents who live far away from their children. Some caution against its drawbacks, however. Video communication can give one parent virtual access to the other's home, which can be perceived as an invasion of privacy.

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

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