The Houston Family Law Blog

Child Custody: Virtual Visitation in Texas

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Many non-custodial parents are taking advantage of the Web cam technology offered through Google, AOL, Yahoo, and Skype. Parents are now able to "visit" their children without actually being in the same room as the kids through the use of video communication devices.

FindLaw KnowledgeBase states that Texas has a virtual visitation law in place through Family Code ยง153.015, which permits courts to order electronic communication with the child. Parents in Texas can also agree independently to an electronic communication schedule as part of their visitation plan through out of court proceedings. Texas became the third U.S. state to pass a virtual visitation law in 2007 after Utah and Wisconsin passed similar laws. Virtual visitation laws were later passed in Florida and North Carolina.

Electronic communication in virtual visitation agreements is defined very broadly in Texas; where regular telephone calls, video telephoning, e-mail, instant messaging, video-conferencing and the use of Web cams are all considered forms of electronic communication. Issues of how often electronic communication should take place and how long each electronic visit should last are some considerations that should be specified when drafting a virtual visitation agreement.

There are many Texas family law attorneys that now recommend that parents put virtual visitation in their child custody and visitation agreement. However, many attorneys say that face-to-face time through technology should not replace the in-person visits. Instead, the online visitation should be supplemental.

Related Resources:

  • Parental Virtual Visitation Court Orders Rise (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life Blog)
  • Find a Houston Family Law Attorney (FindLaw)
  • Parenting in Cyberspace? Virtual Visitation and the Court-Ordered Use of Technology (FindLaw Writ)

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