As technology is always shifting, it looks like virtual visitation may be the newest way that changes how children and their divorced parents communicate. Read on to learn more about how computer software, webcams, and video phones are changing the landscape as it relates to custody.

What is Virtual Visitation?

This broad term refers to forms of child visitation that require some type of technology for communicating with a child. This could be instant messaging, email, or video conferencing (i.e. Skype or FaceTime), among others. When parents live far apart from one another after the marriage is over, virtual visitation can help to provide some layer of communication between a parent and a child.

Requests for virtual visitation time may be appropriate in any situation where a Child and one or the other parent will be away from each other for an extended period of time, usually when a parent lives out of state.  Such virtual time can be more meaningful than a simple phone call.

Benefits to Virtual Visitation

There are, as you might suspect, advantages and disadvantages to virtual visitation. With growing numbers of parents contemplating how to continue relationships with non-custodial parents who live far away, the rise of technology has emerged to fill a need. Virtual visitation does offer some key and far-reaching benefits for the parent-child relationship.

Some of the most common examples of how virtual visitation can work to benefit a parent-child relationship include situations like reading a child a bedtime story, making the child feel like the other parent is a part of his/her daily or weekly life, sharing an accomplishment of the child’s, sharing an art project or other tangible, visual, item, getting assistance with a special project or homework assignment, or even witnessing musical recitals or sporting events live as they happen.

There are, also, some potential downsides to virtual visitation. Both parents need to have similar expectations about how these tools will be used, which can be problematic especially at it relates to the length and scheduling of each particular event. It also should not be considered a one-for-one replacement for actual, physical, parenting time.

In summary, child custody laws are shifting to include virtual visitation in many states. Viewed as a supplement to existing child custody agreements, these can help promote healthy relationships between parents and children. These arrangements, though, should never be viewed as a complete replacement of in-person visitation. Parents should work together to ensure that the virtual visitation is done in a manner that has the best interests of the child at heart.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding What is Virtual Custody?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Lindsay A.M. Olivarez at 480.461.5300, log on to, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.