Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

When Your Children Are Not With You Through This Holiday

The use of technology keeps us all a few clicks away from one another. No longer are we bound to the kitchen wall to talk to loved ones. Now with mobile phones (including texting) and many online programs using webcams such as Skype, visiting with your children, no matter the physical distance between you is rather simple. This helps parents when they live far away from their children, but also when they do not have parenting time and would like to touch base.

It is estimated that 10 million American children live in a different state or country than one of their parents. Seeing one another on a regular basis may not be possible and the distance may make holiday visits prohibitive.

For couples going through the New Jersey divorce process, your agreements may stipulate the frequency and mechanism by which your children may communicate with their other parent when it is your co-parenting time. If you are already divorced and would like to put some legal language around these communications, a competent NJ divorce attorney can certainly help you.

There is precedent here in New Jersey for virtual visitation through a case in 2001, McCoy v McCoy. The mother who was the custodial parent had built a website which housed a webcam which allowed for daily updating on the child’s activity and face-to-face interactions with her father. The court ruled that this was a “creative and innovated” way for the non-custodial father to keep in touch with his child.

Time of day, day of week, length of virtual visitation visit can all be written into your agreement.
Should you put limits on communication? It depends on the circumstances. Parents who are amicable and respectful may not need to have limits. In these situations a once a day check-in may be acceptable. If there is constant texting or other communications, especially when instigated by the parent, you may have a problem. A consultation with your attorney can review your personal circumstances and devise a plan that is in the best interest of your child.

Your child will of course be better off in the long run if they remain in contact with both parents. It is their right to continue both relationships regardless of distance and co-parenting arrangements. In addition, your flexibility and understanding will also benefit your child if he or she wants to call their other parent after winning a big game, getting a great report card, or even possibly because they had a tough day and want to talk with both of you about it.

Your child is worthy of the commitment both parents need to make to ensure the child has open communication at all times with both parents. If you are struggling with how this arrangement can work for you and your child, please come in and talk with a member of our legal team. We have creatively helped clients with these issues leading to the best possible outcome for parents and children.