If you are dealing with a child custody case, you should know about how visitation rights work using electronic communications. Keeping connected with your child is even more important when someone else has custody of them for part or all the time.
What Are Visitation Rights?
When one parent has custody of a child, this means that the child lives with the parent and that parent takes care of the child’s everyday needs. The other parent, who does not have custody or who may have limited custody, still has visitation rights with the child. The court will decide how and when the other parent can spend time with the child. The extent of visitation is based on the best interests of the child.
Visitation may involve setting specific dates for visits, or it may allow for more flexibility. For example, a parent might have visitation with their child every other Saturday. A more flexible schedule might take into account work schedules, holidays, school vacations, and summer break from school. More and more often these days, visitation incorporates electronic communications.
What Are the Rules on Electronic Communications and Visitation?
The court can consider whether to allow electronic communications between parent and child as a form of visitation. For example, electronic communications may include phone calls, texts, emails, or video chats. The judge must determine whether electronic communication is in the child’s best interest, as well as deciding whether the parents have access to appropriate electronic equipment.
If the judge decides that electronic communication is in the child’s best interest, then he or she also can set guidelines on the parent and child’s use of it. The court may set hours during which they can communicate, require parents to share passwords and access info, and require parents to share the costs of the communications (such as splitting a cell phone bill). The court also can order supervision of electronic communications, just as it can of in-person visits.
Do Electronic Communications Replace In-Person Visitation?
The law in North Carolina (North Carolina General Statute § 50-13.2) is clear that electronic communications are not a substitute for in-person visitation or custody. They should supplement visitation, not replace in-person time spent with a child. The fact that a child has electronic contact with a parent should not be persuasive when a parent wants to move out of the area or out of state. In addition, electronic communications between parent or child should not be used as a factor in calculating child support payments.
A Family Law Lawyer Near You Can Help with Visitation Rights
If you are involved in a child custody case, you need the help of an experienced family law lawyer. You may need help preparing to seek more visitation rights or to obtain sole or joint custody. Divorce and family law lawyers often handle child custody cases for parents who are seeking custody or visitation rights. Your lawyer can explain your rights when dealing with the court and your child’s other parent.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you need help with a child custody matter, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.