You know how important it is to maintain a healthy relationship with your child, but it can be hard to find the right approach after divorce. It might be even more difficult if you do not live near him or her. But difficult does not mean impossible, and you probably already own something that can help support that relationship. Virtual visitation only requires a couple of devices and internet access.
No matter the distance, technology creates a bridge between the two of you. You can regularly text, call and video chat with your child. However, you might feel worried that swapping texts is not enough. The following information can help put your mind at ease.
Your child still needs you
Experts used to believe that children’s well-being was linked to their parents’ post-divorce relationships. The thought was that the more conflict between parents, the worse off children were. Newer research shows that this is not always true. Kids are actually better off when they still have strong relationships with both parents, no matter how the parents act toward one another after divorce.
For example, you can improve your child’s emotional well-being just by being there for him or her. Your child is also less likely to engage in problematic behaviors. Even though maintaining a cooperative relationship with your ex might be ideal, conflict between the two of you is far less likely to affect your child if you simply maintain regular contact.
How should I keep in contact?
How and when you contact your child—or vice versa—is largely up to your schedules and personal preferences. So long as it works for you, there is really no right or wrong way to do it. You can think about some of these options if you are having trouble coming up with ideas:
- Video chat on Skype, FaceTime and other apps
- Text or call with your smart phones
- Email from your preferred devices
If your child is old enough to have his or her own phone—generally between 10 and 18—then you may not have any trouble talking and checking in with one another. But your child might be too young for a device or only have limited access to one. If this is the case, agreeing on a method for daily contact can also work out well.
Can I put this in the custody agreement?
Whether you and your ex are on good terms or not, you should not rely on a verbal agreement. Your ex-spouse could change his or her mind or may take away your child’s devices as a punishment. These actions could effectively cut off your only method of contact.
Just like with in-personal visitation, you should be sure to address virtual visitation in your child custody agreement. You can even modify your current agreement if it does not include anything that gives you the right to maintain digital contact. Although both of these should ideally be pretty straightforward, problems can quickly arise out of nowhere. When you choose to work with an attorney who is knowledgeable in Minnesota family law, you are also choosing to improve your chances of securing the best possible outcome for your unique situation.