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Family Law in Canberra – child custody and virtual visitation – Is “virtual visitation” enough?

By April 17, 2015No Comments

Is “virtual visitation” enough?

A story in the UK’s Spectator asks the question: are video calls enough to enable non-custodial parents to bond and care for their children? Or are children greatly missing out in custody cases where the parents live far apart and contact is arranged through virtual means? Should we go back to the pre-Skype days where physical contact was regarded as vital?

These days, custody cases around the world make the most of new technologies enabling children to have video-conferences with absent parents, including here in Australia.  It’s partly a sign of our times, since we travel more and are more likely to meet partners overseas or interstate and ultimately play out custody arrangements involving long distances. And because of the way new technologies have flourished, it has become a cheap and widely available method of communicating, whether locally or internationally.

“In 2004, the average cost of building a ‘virtual visitation system’ with audio equipment and web cameras was around $700. Today, Skype and similar services such as Facetime are free to download, and you can use one on pretty much any laptop, smartphone or tablet.”

The origin of ‘Skype dads’ can be traced back to 2002 when the first case appeared in the United States, while the UK had its first case of virtual visitation in 2011. Since then it has become relatively commonplace, including here in Australia, for Judges to order parents living away from their children to have contact via virtual means. But now the question is being asked: is it enough, especially when enforcing such arrangements internationally can be virtually impossible?

What do you think?

If you need assistance with a child custody matter, whether international or local, please contact our team here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.



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