When parents get divorced, it can be difficult for them to spend as much time with their children as they want. This is particularly true when one of the parents lives at a distance or they’re constantly traveling for work. Fortunately, virtual visitation has become more possible than ever, allowing parents and their children to communicate much more consistently – even when they’re physically apart.
However, virtual visitation isn’t without its share of problems. Just like with other forms of visitation, good ground rules can make for hassle-free encounters (and keep co-parents from going to war over boundary issues).
What sort of issues should you discuss with your co-parent?
When you and your co-parent discuss the idea of virtual visitation, there are a lot of different things that you may need to consider. While every situation is unique, here are some suggestions:
- What times are appropriate to initiate contact? If your child is a teenager, it may be perfectly appropriate to message them or start a Facetime call at 10 p.m., but that wouldn’t be acceptable for a young child who goes to bed earlier.
- How much oversight is acceptable by the co-parent? If your child is very young, they may need your co-parent’s assistance to manage the iPad or other electronic device involved, but you should still feel like your visits are reasonably private. You may want an agreement that your co-parent will then step out of the room until the visit is over.
- Can access to electronics be unilaterally revoked? Some parents restrict a child’s access to electronics when they’re being punished, but that could negatively affect your ability to connect with your child. You want to make sure there are clear understandings about if or when electronic access can be denied.
- How will any associated costs be divided? Cellphones and tablets cost money, and so do their services. You may need to have some agreement in place regarding who will pay for the device being used (and any necessary replacements), as well as the cost of the cellular or wifi service.
Child custody issues are often a lot more complicated than people initially realize. If you’re struggling to make sense of it all, it may be time to seek legal guidance and assistance.