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In the modern day, parents sometimes ask for virtual visitation rights. These are very new, and it's important to know how they work and why they may be of use to you in California.

Essentially, a virtual visitation plan is one that revolves around contact through email, video chat programs and other online means. It is based around computer and cellphone contact so that a parent can keep in touch with a child. Traditional visitation involves a face-to-face visit, but virtual visitation allows a parent to stay connected and have time with the child even if the two are nowhere near one another.

For example, one parent may be in the military. He or she may have traditional visitation rights and come over twice a week to spend two hours with the child. If that parent is transferred to a different base or sent overseas, he or she may ask to still be given those four hours per week, but the parent will now want to spend time on Skype or a similar video chat program.

Virtual visitation can also be useful when parents don't want to be tied to a certain area and would like to move. Courts sometimes deny a move if it means the parent who isn't moving won't ever see the child. With virtual visitation, the child and the custodial parent may be able to move without entirely eliminating contact with the parent who stays behind. Not all parents will agree to this trade, but it can be helpful.

Virtual visitation may be only one component of your agreement, but it could be a valuable one. Be sure you know all of the options that you have, even the non-traditional ones, when drafting the agreement.

Source: FIndLaw, "Virtual Visitation," accessed June 03, 2016

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