Virtual Visitation in Florida
As technology becomes ever more advanced, the ways in which we are able to communicate with each other constantly change. In Florida, child custody laws have begun to reflect these changes. For instance, Florida is one of the few states to pass legislation that allows family law courts to order virtual visitation, in which children can interact with their parents via webcam or cell phone. This method has proven effective in allowing children to remain connected to both of their parents, regardless of location, so if you are concerned about the amount of time you are able to spend with your child because you live in a different state or because you and your ex-spouse have conflicting schedules, you should speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale timesharing attorney who can help you explore alternate visitation options.
Goals and Purpose
In passing virtual visitation legislation in Florida, lawmakers had three primary goals, including:
- Encouraging virtual visits between parents and children;
- Making virtual visits more accessible; and
- Promoting uncensored visits between parents and their children.
Virtual visitation, or internet visitation, is not intended to replace face-to-face visitation between non-custodial parents and their children. In fact, Florida law specifically states that virtual visitation cannot be used to replace face to face contact. However, it can be an important tool in allowing parents to maintain a relationship with their children over a long distance and is especially crucial in cases where a custodial parent is forced to relocate due to a job opportunity or remarriage.
Under Florida law, courts are permitted to prohibit a custodial parent from relocating with their children if doing so would disrupt the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights. Since the passage of the virtual visitation law, judges are allowed to assess a wide range of factors when making a relocation determination, including whether the parties have access to the equipment and technology necessary to enable virtual visitation. However, before ordering virtual visitation, courts are also required to consider additional factors, including:
- Whether electronic communication is in the child’s best interests;
- Whether either parent has a history of domestic violence or substance house; and
- Any other factors that they deem material.
Courts can be extremely specific when drafting their visitation orders, requiring the parties to:
- Use a particular form of virtual visitation, such as video conferencing or telephone calls;
- Install or use specific equipment to facilitate virtual visitation;
- Pay for internet services and equipment; and
- Abide by the specific virtual visitation schedule created by the court.
Once a court has ordered virtual visitation, each parent is required to provide the other with the access information necessary to facilitate communication. Parents are also required to notify each other of any changes to this information within seven days.
Call a Dedicated Timesharing Attorney About Your Case Today
Please call Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 to speak with an experienced and compassionate family law attorney about your own timesharing-related questions and concerns. Our Florida legal team is eager to assist you today.