April 19, 2008

Divorce Tech: Web cams and long distance parenting

If you move after a divorce or custody case, how can you preserve your relationship with your children? We live in a mobile society. After a divorce case, sometimes parents move across town, to another town, or out of state. Sometimes the demands of a job keep a parent from having regular contact with their kids. Whatever the reason for the move or distance, parenting plans are harder to implement if the parents don’t live close to each other. Depending on the distance of the move, a parent may end up with longer, less frequent blocks of time with the children. The problem with long distance parenting is that longer blocks of time are no substitute for frequent interaction, especially for younger children. Virtually all parenting plans call for regular telephone contact, but many parents find it hard to engage young children for any length of time on the phone.

Many of our clients report that they have emotionally richer and longer communications with children when they video conference rather than just call. We recommend the use of a web cam and free video conferencing to clients with long distance parenting issues. A well drafted parenting plan should address the use of free video conferencing, include the right to use and the obligation to facilitate electronic communication (e.g. maintain Internet, a working camera, etc.) The feedback we get from our clients using web cams for videoconferencing has been overwhelmingly positive. If you travel for work, or do not live close to your children, talk to your lawyer about putting video conferencing language in your parenting plan.