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Do you need to develop a virtual parenting plan?

On Behalf of | May 4, 2024 | Child Custody |

Whether your child is going to be spending the summer with your co-parent or your job is taking you away from your child for a time, you’ll likely be entering the world of what’s known as “virtual visitation.” That means you’ll be staying in touch with your child via FaceTime or some other type of video chat in addition, perhaps, to phone calls, texts, emails and maybe social media.

Whether this long-distance living arrangement is going to last for a few months or for the foreseeable future, it’s important to make the necessary modifications to your custody order and parenting plan. This includes having a “virtual parenting plan” or “long distance communication plan.” Whatever you call it, it needs to provide clear provisions for how and when you and your child will have dedicated time “together.” 

Even if you and your co-parent are on good terms and you feel confident that they won’t interfere with your communication with your child, having a schedule that everyone adheres to barring some emergency can give your child a sense of routine and security. It can also make it easier for you and your ex to schedule your days.

If your ex is less than reliable or hasn’t been above interfering with your parenting time in the past, it’s especially important to have this plan in place. It should also include language around how soon an alternate virtual visit will take place. Having this arrangement codified will also help you go to the court if your visits are repeatedly stymied in some way.

Your co-parent’s responsibilities 

It’s also a good idea to address whether your co-parent can be involved in the visits. If your child is very young and can’t navigate the technology on their own, your co-parent (or someone else) will likely need to be there. If your child can manage it on their own, you may want to ask that the communications be private.

Either way, your co-parent needs to be responsible for getting your child on the call. It’s all too easy to use the excuse that your child doesn’t want to talk to you or isn’t available. That’s why you should make sure your child knows the schedule.

Each family’s long-distance communication plan will look different. Negotiating one that works for your family – and most importantly, for your child – requires careful consideration and experienced legal guidance.