Distance and circumstance can affect how separated and divorced parents spend time with their children – regardless of the nature of the relationship between parents. Sometimes parents are separated or divorced; sometimes away on business or military deployment; sometimes the multi-household arrangement is by design.
Often a focus of discussion is how parents, who live away from their children, maintain a positive parent-child relationship – especially when parents are divorced or otherwise separate due to relationship issues.
Focus on Child
However, the focus should not on “why” the parent is away, but how the parent will continue to build and maintain an active, engaged, and positive relationship with his or her child. This is easier in some relationships than others. Transitioning the discussion to a focus on the needs of the child, versus the reason for the separation opens up the likelihood of a real solution.
Virtual Parent Time
One option that is becoming more and more recognized is “virtual” parent time.
Regular telephone time has long been a staple between separated parents and children. Technology has created a new option that is straight out of a science fiction novel – virtual visitation! The Internet and computer-based video have created a cost effective option – specifically the ability to visually interact in real time. Fathers and mothers who are not living with their children are able to spend real time assisting in homework and other events: not just as an observer, but as a participant in the process as it occurs. Allowing the child, of any age to visit with the absent parent on a regular basis.
Illinois was recently one of six states to pass “Virtual Visitation” legislation that allows virtual visitation to be ordered as part of custody agreements. Similar legislation exists in Florida, North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. Many other states have expressed interest, while Missouri and Ohio have virtual visitation legislation pending.
For couples that choose parenting or divorce mediation, the presence of law supporting virtual visitation is generally immaterial: as in all parenting and divorce mediation cases, separated and divorce parents can make the parenting agreements that work for them. Mediation encourages parents to create a child custody agreement and parenting plan that focuses on meeting the best interests of their children – this means creating a plan and ongoing means of communication that works for the unique needs of their children and family. Virtual parenting time becomes yet another option for divorcing couples in creating the best parenting plan for their children; allowing parents to create real solutions as they work to move forward as a restructured family.
- An Argument for Active Conflict Resolution
- Mediation and Divorce Involving Children
- Holy Days or Holidays? Navigating Shared Parenting
- “He Can’t Treat You Like That”
- Online Co-Parenting Assistance
- Desired Outcomes in Mediation
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