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4 things service members should consider about virtual visitation

Imagine having to go months without seeing your child. This is the reality of military parents who are on deployments or who have been moved to a duty station far away from their children. For these parents, finding a way to remain involved in their child's life is a priority. Fortunately, technology has made this possible.

Types of virtual visits can vary

There are many different types of virtual visits that can occur between a parent who is in the military and their child. Skype and other video messaging services are commonly used. Other methods include text messages, chat sessions or emails. It is important to consider the technology that is available at the duty station of the service member when trying to decide what kinds of virtual visits to use. Often, military members who are overseas or on ships will have fewer options than those who are stateside.

Virtual visitation is flexible

The exact ways and times that virtual visitation can be used are very flexible. This gives members of the military the ability to determine when they are able to contact their child using these methods. The parent who has physical custody of the child should be willing to let him or her visit with the other parent virtually as long as the time is convenient. Of course, most custodial parents wouldn't want to wake a child in the middle of the night for a visit, so the time zone differences between the duty station of the service member and the child would have to be considered.

Visit purposes can vary

One of the biggest benefits to virtual visitation is how involved they allow the service member to be in the child's life. If the child is older and involved in extracurricular activities like band or sports, the parent could watch highlight reels with the child during a virtual visit. Helping with homework, reading bedtime stories or seeing the child open holiday gifts are all possible when virtual visitation is used. Planning for these special moments, especially during a deployment, is crucial so that the child and parent can connect.

Virtual visitation can be part of a child custody order

It is possible to include provisions for virtual visitation in many custody orders. If you are thinking of doing this, you should determine the most appropriate manner to initiate this type of visitation. Ultimately, the goal is to allow the parent and child to have uncensored visits as close as possible to what they would share if the parent lived nearby. Parents who already have a child custody order may need to seek a modification to have virtual visitation included.

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