The rise of technology has helped make the lives of many Californians easier. With a smartphone always on hand, it is easy to keep in contact with friends and family, even if they are across the country.

It also helps divorced and separated parents maintain contact with their children regularly, even when it is not their parenting or visitation time. In fact, many family courts nationwide now accept these technologies as a medium for court-ordered visitation.

Virtual visitation is an easy way to keep in contact.

In California, there are several different visitation arrangements that non-custodial parents might have, including:

Scheduled visitation days, which outline specific dates and holidays for visits;

Open-ended or “reasonable visitation,” which gives parents the freedom to determine how they wish visitation to work; and

Supervised visitation, if it is in the child’s best interests.

Before smart technology connected individuals in real time, non-custodial parents would have to rely solely on these kinds of arrangements to see their children. Now, technology helps make visitation more flexible.

Virtual visitation can include texting, video-calling (FaceTime, Zoom) or any other form of online communication between a non-custodial parent and their child.

It is particularly helpful for parents who live far away.

California courts most often allow parents to request and include virtual visitation rights in their custody arrangement if the custodial parent relocates far away. However, successful virtual visitation usually requires both parents to:

Be flexible with schedules and times for virtual visits;

Allow parents and children to speak freely with each other; and

Respect each parent’s time with the children.

No parent wants to lose time with their child. And the other parent moving away after a divorce can significantly reduce that time. But if parents work together to protect virtual visitation times, the move can be easier on both the non-custodial parent and the children.

But remember: Virtual visitation does not replace face-to-face.

Virtual visitation is undoubtedly helpful for non-custodial parents. And as long as courts believe it is in the best interest of the child to maintain a close relationship with the parent, it is often fairly easy to obtain virtual visitation rights.

However, it is not meant to replace face-to-face visitation time. Both children and parents can benefit from regular contact, but they benefit even more so from spending time together in person as well.