Does FaceTime Count as Visitation?
The end of a marriage is rarely easy. Even if filing for divorce was your idea in the first place, separating your own life from your spouse’s could bring up a lot of painful and unexpected feelings. These feelings can be particularly intense and difficult to manage when there are children involved. The uncertainty of how custody and visitation will be decided is the element of divorce that can weigh most heavily on the hearts and minds of many parents.
One option that can help facilitate visitation arrangements for families is virtual visitation via apps such as Facetime, Zoom, Skype, and other forms of video calling. These forms of virtual visitation can allow a parent and their child to maintain contact and continue building a relationship with each other even when complex schedules or geographic space might make physical visitation challenging or impossible.
While in-person and telephone communication were the main options for communication for children and parents in the past, apps such as FaceTime have made it possible for parents to see their children virtually.
If you and your spouse have come to an agreement about a parenting plan, or if the court has issued its own order regarding these matters, having the role of technology clearly spelled out can be helpful to all parties involved. However, if these issues are as yet unresolved, you may find the following information helpful.
Determining Virtual Visitation Rules
When one parent is granted permanent physical custody of the children, the other parent will generally be given a certain amount of visitation or parenting time unless the parent would present a danger to the children. The same is the case when both parents share physical custody of the children.
In general, New Jersey considers video calling apps such as FaceTime a form of visitation. This is particularly the case when the parent without physical custody of the child lives a significant distance away, making physical visitation more challenging. Parents should seek to legally address issues that may arise between them regarding the use of technology for visitation.
When coming to a visitation agreement that includes video calling, the court may consider factors such as:
- Whether virtual visitation is in the child’s best interests
- The family’s capacity to afford Facetime technology or another means of video calling
- Additional factors specific to the individual needs of the family and child
If the court chooses to grant the order, they may choose to set specific guidelines around virtual visitation, including:
- How much each parent will contribute to the necessary costs of communicating via Facetime
- When virtual visitation is allowed
- Number of hours the child and parent can communicate virtually
- Virtual visitation time outside of the regular schedule
Yet it is important to remember that virtual visitation should not entirely replace in-person visitation. Rather, it should be regarded as a supplement to a child spending time in the physical presence of their parent. If the court grants the order for virtual visitation, you should be able to do both.
What Other Forms of Contact Count as Visitation?
In addition to FaceTime, other apps such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet can also be considered visitation. Perhaps less obviously, visitation can also come in the form of talking on the phone, texting, or emailing. These technological forms of contact can be beneficial to your child’s well-being even if regular, in-person visitation is happening as scheduled. Courts understand that technological devices and apps facilitate and speed up communication with your child, and they recognize that having equal access to both parents as needed can benefit children immensely.
Contact an Experienced Monmouth County Divorce Attorney
Divorces can often be more difficult for children than anyone else involved. As a loving parent, you will want to know that you are doing everything in your power to ensure that they can continue to depend on you regardless of the status of your marriage. If you are experiencing challenges regarding visitation with your child through virtual means, you may need to pursue a legal solution to the problem.
The experienced Monmouth County divorce attorney at The Law Office of Andrew A. Bestafka, Esq. can provide the help you need to make sure that your parenting rights and your children’s best interests are protected. We have helped many parents throughout New Jersey find ways to resolve their custody and visitation issues, and we are ready to do the same for you. Call us today at (732) 898-2378 or contact us via our online form for a consultation to find out what your legal options are.