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Virtual visitation in Massachusetts

Some parents may have questions about virtual visitation, especially if it is presented as an option during child custody determinations. Virtual visitation often appeals to non-custodial parents who see it as a way to maintain frequent contact with their children between visits. However, many parents have misgivings about it, particularly if they believe custodial parents are using it as an alternative to traditional visitation.

Virtual visitation allows for parents and children to communicate in traditional ways via non-traditional channels. This type of communication, which often involves the use of video chat software, instant messaging or social networking sites, give non-custodial parents the chance to read their children bedtime stories, help them with their homework, see awards or trophies from competitions or watch recitals or sports events in real time. Proponents of virtual visitation say that allowing parents to stay in regular contact with children and remain involved in their lives in this way helps strengthen and maintain the bonds between them.

Some parents and family law experts have noted the potential for abuse of virtual visitation. Custodial parents may use regular virtual contact between non-custodial parents and children as a justification for limiting traditional visits. In addition, judges sometimes will allow custodial parents to make a long-distance move in case where it would not normally be warranted because parents may be able to avail themselves of virtual visitation.

Though it is a useful supplement that can bridge the gap in between traditional visits, non-custodial parents in Massachusetts often have concerns that virtual visitation will have a detrimental effect on their relationships with their children. Fathers' rights attorneys may be able to determine whether the use of virtual visitation in child custody orders is fair or whether it infringes upon their clients' parental rights to real-world contact with their children.

Source: FindLaw, "Virtual Visitation", accessed on Feb. 23, 2015

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