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What is virtual visitation and how does it work?

Common points of contention between parents after divorce include child custody and visitation. These issues can become even more complicated when either the custodial or non-custodial parent wishes to relocate to another city or state. Obviously, the parent who does not have custody may not be able to see and exercise visitation rights on a regular basis, ultimately straining that parent's relationship with the child.

Do options exist that will allow parent-child contact? Yes. Fortunately, Illinois is one of several states that allow virtual visitation for these parents. This form of visitation, which is also called "Internet visitation" and "electronic visitation," uses technology to bridge the distance between parents and children and allow regular contact through video calls, instant messaging and email.

Who can request virtual visitation? Requests for virtual visitation are usually made by non-custodial parents, regardless of the parents' former status. A court will consider a petition to see if virtual visitation will be in a child's best interests. If it is, virtual visitation will most likely be allowed.

What are the pros and cons of virtual visitation? Like many other issues in the relationships between a parent and child, virtual visitation has benefits and drawbacks. Virtual visitation can help a parent maintain regular contact, especially over long distances, but it can also keep a non-custodial parent from putting forth the effort to maintain a regular schedule of in-person visits.

Virtual visitation may be an extremely valuable option for some parents and should be seriously considered if the situation allows it. Obtaining virtual visitation rights, however, must be granted by a court.

Source: FindLaw.com, "Virtual Visitation," Accessed on July 10, 2015

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