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New laws support virtual visitation for Illinois parents

On behalf of Janet Boyle of Boyle Feinberg Sharma posted in Child Custody on Thursday, January 22, 2015.

The increased scope of communication technology is giving parents, especially non-custodial parents, an extra way to connect with their children after divorce. Illinois is among the states that have created news laws to enable what is known as virtual visitation.

Virtual visitation is defined as technology-supported communication and interaction between a parent and child. This can occur via email, social media, telephone, webcams, and photo-sharing and document-sharing sites. In child custody and visitation situations, the new laws allow these technology-assisted interactions to supplement time allotted for parental visitation.

Although not meant to replace actual in-person visits, virtual visitation is especially useful when a non-custodial parent needs to move away after a divorce. It is believed to help maintain positive relationships between a parent and child because it provides expanded options for meaningful connections. For example, a parent might be able to read a child a bedtime story through the internet under such schemes.

The courts will decide how much virtual visitation is in the best interest of the child. In general, virtual visitation laws codify a parent’s right to request a reasonable amount of connection via technology and perhaps even have uncensored access to a child during the communications.

A parent who needs to set up a visitation plan or wishes to revise one may be able to include many forms of internet and telephone communication as part of the final agreement. Non-custodial parents may find this system especially appealing because it could help maintain the parent-child relationship. An attorney may be able to support a parent’s request for virtual visitation. Legal support might be particularly useful if the other parent wants to limit contact.