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Virtual visitation and Massachusetts child custody

Child custody agreements in Massachusetts are increasingly changing to account for new technology and methods of communication between parents and children. Technologically based communication, otherwise known as virtual visitation, is considered to be an enhancement to regular physical visitation that allows parents and children greater access to one another outside of regular court-ordered visitation. This form of visitation is frequently encouraged to foster stronger emotional bonds and permit children and parents to stay in more regular contact.

Proponents of virtual visitation as an adjunct to a regular child custody agreement point to benefits such as a parent's ability to read a bedtime story to their children and virtually attend concerts and school functions. They also note that virtual visitation allows parents to be more involved in their children's lives by permitting uncensored contact between parents and children outside regular visitation.

Opponents of virtual visitation cite concerns that the existence of technology that facilitates communication might be misused by a custodial parent to limit physical visitation rights of the noncustodial parent. In cases where a noncustodial parent might not otherwise be permitted to relocate outside the geographical location denoted in the custody agreement, opponents say virtual visitation might be unfairly used by the noncustodial parent to secure permission.

In determining whether virtual visitation is an acceptable adjunct to a legal custody agreement, an attorney may first consider the best interests of all parties involved. In a case where the noncustodial parent would not be granted physical visitation, the likelihood of virtual visitation being granted by the court is greatly reduced. Points of concern may include state and case law, how the parents interact with each other and the children, and why virtual visitation is being requested or contested.

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