Parenting plans can be one of the most difficult and stressful parts of a divorce, involving several complex questions: Who gets legal custody? Should visitation rights be laid out rigidly in formal documents or kept flexible? What if I move out of Bethesda to another city in Maryland, or even another state?
An important aspect to consider in formulating a parenting plan before parting ways from the parent of your child is what, exactly, happens in the event that a parent seeks relocation? The relocation issue is one that comes up often; a custodial parent may be faced with numerous legitimate reasons to move: job offers, educational opportunities, family support networks and better school systems are just a few of the more common rationales provided. Out of the estimated 35 million children in the country with parents that no longer live together, either due to divorce or other circumstances, 10 million of those children do not have regular face-to-face interaction with one of the parents.
However, child custody arrangements in Maryland involving a relocated parent may soon be taking a high-tech turn. Although there are currently no “virtual visitation” laws on the books, jurisdictions across the country are slowly embracing the Internet as a means of connecting far reaching non-custodial parents to their children.
Things like webcams, Skype, Google Chat, and other similar technology are being explicitly named in child custody orders in a number of states. If this legislation were to be passed in Maryland, the result could allow a child in Bethesda to maintain significant virtual connections with a parent as far away as Hawaii or abroad. A court can order a specific number of hours per week spent on Skype video-chatting with the far parent, or a specified number of emails per month. Although such virtual parenting is not expected to replace in-person contact, it serves as the next best thing when visits would otherwise be months apart.
Source: Washington Times, “Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option,” Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012