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Virtual visitation. It's a sign of the times, and not necessarily in a bad way. It's a new tool for parents to use is difficult custody situations.
U.S. family courts have begun to devise virtual visitation rights allowing parents the ability to interact with their children online, as reported in a recent FindLaw Writ post. "Virtual visitation," has also been referred to as "e-visitation." While obviously parents do not need a court's permission to visit with their own children online, the courts can order such time to be set aside if the custodial parent is not cooperating.
As of now, Florida, Illinois, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, and Wisconsin have virtual visitation laws on the books and more states are considering it.
With that, here are our top three technology tools for easier virtual visitation:
Skype - Skype has become the number one application for virtual visitation. It's free, easy to use, the quality is usually good and it gets the job done.
Facetime/iChat - If you have an iPhone and a WiFi signal, you can do a video chat from iPhone to iPhone or Apple computer through a program called Facetime. The program uses the camera in the iPhone to transmit a video of both parties. If you don't have iPhones, Apple also offers iChat, which is an instant messaging application comparable to Skype, but without the ability to call regular phones.
Google Voice and Video Chat - Last but not least there is Google. Google offers video chat right from Gmail, iGoogle, and other Google applications. Their service allows high quality audio and video. As of recently, you can also make phone calls right from Google, so this is definitely a great option as well.
Virtual visitation may not be a replacement for real visits, but for parents that have to live far away from their kids, it can be a godsend.