North Carolina is one of only a handful of states that have adopted laws that allow courts to order virtual visitation when making child custody orders. However, other states are currently considering adding such laws to their existing custody and visitation frameworks.
Virtual visitation is a relatively new aspect of family law. This form of visitation consists of using a webcam, computer software, apps or video components of a phone to increase the amount of access that a parent has with his or her child. With the advent of new technology, parents can keep in touch with a child through video phone calls, email, instant messaging and other formats. In a typical case concerning virtual visitation, the non-custodial parent asks the court to order this type of visitation in addition to physical visitation. This can be particularly important if the custodial parent has relocated, making it more difficult for the non-custodial parent to have as much physical access to the child.
Even in states that do not currently have provisions for virtual visitation, virtual visitation may be made part of agreed-upon parenting plans or by asking the court to include such provisions. Virtual visitation is not intended to take the place of physical visitation. Instead, it is another method that non-custodial parents can enhance their time with the children by sharing pictures, reading books, helping with homework, observing extracurricular activities, seeing the child in a way not available through a conventional phone call and making other connections.
Individuals who would like to learn more about virtual visitation may want to meet with a family law attorney. In many cases it would be prudent to include this as an alternative in a parenting plan in order to take into account a future relocation or other event that was not contemplated at the time of the divorce.