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To help ease the pain of divorce and help children stay in frequent contact with their non-custodial parent, several states have passed “virtual visitation” laws, which use various forms of technology to increase communication and supplement in-person visits.
Through virtual visitation, family computers are equipped with wired or wireless technology like e-mail, Webcams, personal video conferencing, and instant messaging that would help children and parents bond even if they live far away from each other.
Wisconsin, Missouri, and Utah were the first states to okay virtual visitation laws as a stand in for in-person visitation. Illinois, Virginia, Ohio, and South Carolina have submitted virtual visitation bills and almost a dozen other states are in the process of drafting bills.
Various organizations are pushing for virtual visitation laws in every state. According to InternetVisitation.org, the main focus for this legislation is to “improve the communication with your children when you can’t be with them in person.” However, they do say “it should never be used to replace or substitute in-person or face-to-face visits.”
Opponents of the bill and children’s rights activists argue that the technology, because of its convenience, would definitely replace in-person visits if virtual visitation became a national law.
“You can’t virtually hug or walk your child to school,” said David Levy, president of the Children’s Rights Council. “We don’t want this to be seen as an excuse to encourage move-aways.”
Proponents claim that the communication technology has been widely used and proven to be a success so far. Furthermore, it has also been applied to other situations in which families can keep in touch, such as in elderly care facilities or in prison.
These systems typically cost $500 to install.
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