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More states adopting 'virtual visitation' in child custody cases

Divorce can be tough on children, particularly if child custody arrangements preclude them from living near one of their parents. Sometimes a good job opportunity or a new relationship may cause one parent to move away.

10 million children in this country do not have regular in-person interaction with one of their parents. In fact, within four years of a divorce, nearly three out of four single mothers will relocate at least once. Both the children and a parent who lives far away can have a tough time.

One thing that has helped the situation is technology. For many people, using Skype is as close to seeing their child in person as they can get. Courts are starting to catch up with evolving technology, and several states now have laws regarding what is called "virtual visitation."

In fact, 22 states have laws in the works regarding virtual visitation. It is a way for parents to have electronic communication with their children. Where there are virtual visitation laws in place, a family law judge can have the authority to decide whether a parent can have virtual visitation, what form of communication it is, and how often it takes place.

As with any law, there are protections if there is any sign of emotional or physical abuse. Some critics argue that a parent could use the child's camera to spy on the other parent, although one could argue that such practices could take place in the absence of virtual visitation.

Advocates say it's a good way for parents to interact with their children when the miles separate them. What do you think?

Source: Washington Times, "Virtual visitation: A sensible child custody option," Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012

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