People in North Carolina and everywhere use computers daily to check email, keep up on social networking websites and do other common tasks. Advances in computer technology have created many ways for people to communicate with each other, and because of this, communication by computer is popping up in ways that were previously unused.
For the parents of children who are separated by geographical or other circumstances, "virtual visitation" with their kids is becoming a new reality. The number of parents who lack regular face-to-face interaction with their children is estimated to be nearly 10 million, and if technology can provide an adequate substitute when physical proximity is impossible, many parents are eager to give it a shot.
Virtual visitation, as the term is used by the court, involves the use of electronic communications between a parent and a child, including everything from texting and emailing to using Facebook or other social media and webcam conferencing utilities such as Skype.
For parents in these situations, enforcement of virtual visitation rights is every bit as important as physical visitation. North Carolina is one of just a handful of states that recognize this as a bona fide right in custody agreements. Oftentimes a non-custodial parent will be awarded virtual visitation rights as part of the parenting plan, and the court may dictate details such as the frequency and duration of these virtual visits.
North Carolina courts are still grappling with the framework of virtual visitation as technology improves and unforeseen issues arise, but many parents already feel that virtual visitation plays an integral role in their lives. While virtual visitation isn't intended to supplant actual physical contact, it can help parents and children interact more frequently and more intimately than a phone call may allow. Children are generally quick to adapt to technology; hopefully the courts are just as flexible when it comes to recognizing the advantageous use of technology to bring parents and children closer together.
Source: The Washington Times, "Virtual Visitation: a sensible child custody option," Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012