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Collaborative law can help Texans navigate virtual visitation

As with almost every aspect of modern society, technology has changed the way families are redefining themselves in the twenty-first century. Virtual visitation -- or a parent's meaningful communication over a long distance via technology -- has become one of the most innovative and useful ways to keep family bonds strong after a divorce.

Legally recognized in Texas as well as five other states, virtual visitation is a sanity-saver when job changes or other circumstances force one parent to move away from his or her children. When considered during the collaborative law process, virtual visitation can help Texas parents avoid court as well as confusion and acrimony.

While long-distance parenthood used to be virtually impossible, evolving tech trends have changed all that. Now, parents and their children can keep in touch via email, webcam or Skype, instant messaging, photo-sharing websites and the ubiquitous social networks that attract members of all ages.

Statistics support the projected increase in virtual visitation laws. According to the National Center for State Courts, roughly one-fourth of the children of unmarried parents live in a different city than one of their parents. The center also reports that within four years of a divorce or separation, three-fourths of mothers will relocate.

Currently, twenty-two other states are moving to add virtual visitation to their list of laws on family issues. In states with virtual visitation laws, including Texas, family law judges are able to include virtual visitation to non-custodial parents.

However, despite its growing use and legal validity, virtual visitation is not without criticism. Some say it will cause family friction if one parent uses it to observe his or her ex; others say non-custodial parents may view moving away as more attractive, and may be more likely to do so as a result of this new convenience. Still others believe this new form of visitation is simply a poor substitute for face-to-face bonding time between parent and child.

With so many ways this new practice can create room for disagreement during a divorce, relocating Texans can consider collaborative law as an alternative to court. By discussing aspects of a divorce in a non-adversarial fashion, both parties can collaborate on solutions to the potential problems of evolving forms of visitation.

Source: The Washington Times, "Virtual visitation: a sensible child custody option", Myra Fleischer, April 15, 2012

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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