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Will “virtual” visitation be part of your visitation plan?

When Ontario couples who are parents of minor children get divorced, they oftentimes need to set up an arrangement by which each parent can spend time with the children. Sometimes, the parents will share approximately equal amounts of time with the children. However, in other situations, that simply is not possible, for any number of reasons. One creative way to maximize parent/child contact is to set up a form of  “virtual” visitation. Whether a virtual visitation plan is part of a divorce settlement or order depends on the facts of each case.

If the parties are up for it, and the family court judge approves, including virtual visitation in the overall child parenting plan in a divorce case can help give parents access to their children, even when they are not in the same place, physically. Virtual visitation includes interaction between parents and children via cellphones, texting, video messaging apps, and other modern technology that allows the parties to see each other, talk and, in general, simply stay in contact more frequently.

There are obvious benefits to including a virtual visitation plan in a child custody arrangement to avoid a custody dispute. If, for example, one parent does not live in the same town as the children and the custodial parent, virtual visitation can provide a key link for the family.

However, there are potential drawbacks to this visitation plan as well, such as when a parent who is granted virtual visitation rights goes beyond the parameters agreed to and simply attempts to contact the child too frequently, thereby infringing on the other parent’s right to spend time with the child. Visitation plans oftentimes include unique aspects, as they incorporate the unique dynamics of any given family.

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