According to North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.2(e), a child custody order can include visitation by electronic communication with a minor child. That means the parent who doesn’t reside with the kids can use text messaging, video chat, and other forms of electronic communication to see and speak with their children.
Unfortunately, many divorcing couples can’t agree on the conditions of child custody. The custodial parent is the parent who lives with the children primarily. They might not want their ex to have access to their kids during periods of in-person quality time. Some parents prefer to put their cell phones away while with their children.
Visitation can be a tricky matter while negotiating the terms of a divorce. If disputes arise, it might be necessary to take the case to court. Typically, North Carolina courts base decisions on what’s in the minor child’s best interest.
The judge could grant the non-custodial parent visitation rights depending on the circumstances. A predetermined schedule could also set out when screen time is allowed and how to handle obstacles preventing the non-custodial parent from electronic visitation.
Visitation Rights by Electronic Communication
If you want to communicate with your child when they’re with your ex, you can petition the court for electronic visitation. The judge will determine whether to grant electronic visitation by considering these factors:
- Whether electronic communication is in the child’s best interest
- Whether the equipment necessary to facilitate electronic communication is affordable, available, and accessible to the parents
- Additional factors the court determines are appropriate to consider while deciding whether to grant electronic visitation
The judge can also issue guidelines for communicating by electronic means. That could include:
- Each parent’s financial responsibility in providing electronic communication with the child
- Hours when the communication can take place
- Access information the parents must provide to each other to facilitate the electronic communication
Requesting Virtual Visitation
It’s vital to understand that electronic communication is not a replacement for physical visitation with your child. It can supplement instances when you’re not with them. You have a right to petition the court for electronic visitation during divorce proceedings.
Accessing your kids electronically could include methods, such as:
- Skype or FaceTime
- Phone calls
- Direct messaging
Knowing you can talk to your child when they’re in your ex’s custody can be comforting. Divorce leads to various changes, including spending less time with your son or daughter. A child custody order involving electronic communication can bring you peace of mind. Even if you can’t be with your kids physically, you can check in and talk about their day.
How to Draft a Virtual Visitation Agreement
You and your ex can decide whether you want the agreement to be detailed or general. Some divorcing couples arrange for the non-custodial parent to communicate with the children whenever they want. Others prefer limited access and determine virtual visitation is best on a specific schedule.
No matter what you and your ex decide, including it in the agreement is crucial. You should discuss whether you can text your kids any time while they are with your ex or only during certain times of the day. You should also determine what should happen if unforeseen circumstances prevent you from your scheduled virtual visit.
For example, let’s say your ex encounters traffic while driving your kid home from school. Typically, you FaceTime with your son or daughter 30 minutes after they get home, but it takes your ex over an hour to get through the traffic. Since you missed your scheduled time, you believe you should talk to your child whenever they get home. However, your ex had already planned a playdate for them.
It’s essential to discuss how to handle these types of situations. Without proper planning, you could miss out on valuable time with your kids. When you can’t be with them all the time, those moments you have on Skype or talking through text are necessary to maintain your bond.
Even if you and your ex navigate your divorce amicably, you should still hire a divorce lawyer. Child custody arrangements can turn into ugly courtroom battles without warning. You need an experienced legal team in your corner to guide you through the process and protect your rights during virtual visitation negotiations.
Marshall & Taylor PLLC understands the complexities of a divorce and the laws associated with child custody issues. As one of the parents, you have a right to visitation with your son or daughter. Even if you can’t always spend time with them in person, state law allows electronic communication. You can count on us to fight for the visitation arrangement you deserve.
If you want to pursue electronic communication with your kids during child custody negotiations, contact firm-name] immediately. We are available 24/7 to speak with you about your case and determine what we can do to help. Call us at (919) 833-1040 today for your initial consultation with a dedicated and knowledgeable Raleigh divorce lawyer.