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Benefits and disadvantages of virtual visitation

The use of technology to strengthen relationships between Alaska parents and their children after divorce carries certain benefits and disadvantages. While parents and children now have more opportunities to communicate with each other with the assistance of Internet or phone connections, some parents and legal experts are concerned that these technologies may have adverse effects on family relationships if they are used to replace face-to-face contact.

Virtual visitation may involve the use of video teleconferencing software, instant messaging clients, email or other methods of communication. Family court judges may order virtual visitation as part of a parenting plan to allow children access to non-custodial parents during periods where they remain in their custodial parents' care. Non-custodial parents typically request virtual visitation when custodial parents seek a child custody modification order to allow them to leave the area. People seeking custody of a child in non-divorce cases, such as unmarried parents, grandparents or other relatives, may also seek virtual visitation.

Family court judges in states such as Alaska without laws addressing virtual visitation may order virtual visitation to ensure that children can have continuous relationships with their parents. Parents may be better able to interact with their children in ways that closely resemble traditional interactions, such as reading them stories at bedtime, helping with homework, seeing trophies or awards or talking with them about their days at school or at extracurricular activities.

The benefits of virtual visitation do not make it a replacement for real-world visits, raising some concerns about custodial parents or judges using it as such in cases where a custodial parent leaves the area or state. Attorneys may be able to answer questions about non-custodial parents' options for disputing a modification to a custody order or other child custody issues.

FindLaw, "Virtual Visitation," Accessed on Jan. 20, 2015

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