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Maintaining relationships with children virtually

When a couple divorces or one parent relocates, it can be hard for the noncustodial parent to keep in contact with a child or children. However, maintaining a relationship with a child is important. Parents in Pennsylvania and other states could use virtual visitation to stay in touch with a child when spending time together in person is difficult.

Virtual visitation applies when the noncustodial parent uses technology to communicate with a child, and this form of visitation could be part of a court custody order or a parenting agreement. Virtual communication is possible with email, video mail, phone calls and texts, instant messaging and video conferencing. In addition to interacting with each other through technology, parents and children can also store things on the web to show each other and stay informed through social media sites and photo-sharing sites like Facebook or Shutterfly.

Virtual visitation should not replace regular parenting time but can supplement it when face to face visits are not possible. Virtual visitation helps overcome distance as parents could use technology to help with homework, read stories, watch events in a child's life and see things a child wants to show off like awards and artwork. Parents typically have some form of custody or visitation rights as long as they are fit and able to provide a safe environment for a child, so this could be an option as long as regular visitation would be allowed if it were possible.

In some situations, a noncustodial parent might think that virtual visitation could be helpful right away while in other cases this may not be an issue unless one parent moves farther away. Order modifications could be needed when circumstances change, and parents should keep a child's best interests in mind when forming or changing custody agreements and parenting plans.

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