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Virtual visitation: a modern visitation option

Going through a divorce can be a stressful experience for the adults involved. Children of divorcing couples face their own challenges, especially in the case where a parent decides to relocate.

Thanks to modern technology, virtual visitation may be an option for parents who wish to relocate far away while still allowing for parenting time between the child and the non-custodial parent.

When a custodial parent decides to relocate, it can make visitation more complicated for the non-custodial parent. In a North Dakota case, Gilbert v. Gilbert, one of the determining factors in the court's decision to allow the mother's relocation with the children was the fact that she was only moving thirty miles away. The court stated that this distance would not prohibit the father's active involvement in the children's lives.

But, what about when the custodial parent wants to relocate to some place far away? In that instance, courts may now be willing to consider a new form of visitation called virtual visitation.

Virtual visitation would allow for the use of modern technology such as e-mail, video conferencing and instant messaging as a way for the non-custodial parent to keep in touch with the child. It is a subject of debate whether this would be in the best interests of the child.

While there are many benefits to virtual visitation - such as more frequent contact than would be possible if restricted to in-person visits - many fear that it will not supplement, but rather replace, in-person visits which carry unique benefits to the child.

Only a few states have enacted laws to allow courts to order virtual visitation, one of which is not North Dakota. Even without laws in place, parents are free to come up with their own parenting plan that will allow for virtual visitation. However, it is likely that this growing phenomenon will gain more traction as more and more people relocate around the world.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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