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Does virtual visitation make it easier to relocate a child?

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Child Custody And Relocation

In the modern digital age, social media and online platforms have become an integral part of our daily lives. These virtual spaces have not only revolutionized the way we communicate and interact with each other. These have also transformed how we approach legal proceedings, including child relocation cases. In Hawaii, family law judges consider the role of social media and online meeting platforms when deciding on child relocation.

The legal framework for child relocation in Hawaii

Under Hawaii law, judges can modify custody orders when changes warrant it. When a parent desires to relocate with a child, the court will hold a hearing to determine what custody arrangement best suits the child’s needs after the move. The court’s primary consideration is the child’s best interests. The judges have the discretion to grant the relocation or deny it based on the case’s specific circumstances.

What encompasses virtual visitation?

Virtual visitation refers to the use of technology to facilitate communication and interaction between a parent and their child when they are physically apart. This can take many forms, depending on the technology available and the needs of the parents and the child. Some examples of virtual visitation include:

  • Video conferencing: Using platforms like Skype, Zoom or Google Meet to have a video call with the child, allowing the parent to see and interact with the child in real-time.
  • Phone calls: Making regular phone calls to the child to stay in touch and maintain communication.
  • Instant messaging: Using messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger or Signal to send messages and photos to the child throughout the day.
  • Email: Sending emails to the child to stay in touch and share updates.
  • Online gameplay: Playing online games together, such as video games or virtual worlds, to spend time together and have fun.

In the context of child relocation cases, virtual visitation may be considered an alternative or supplement to in-person visitation if the noncustodial parent cannot be physically present with the child. This can be especially useful for parents who are living in different parts of the state or the country, or who have work or other obligations that make it difficult to maintain regular in-person visitation.

How does this impact relocation decisions

By using virtual visitation platforms, the noncustodial parent can show the court that they are committed to maintaining a relationship with the child, even if they are physically apart. These can also provide a sense of continuity and stability for their kid who may be experiencing stress or anxiety related to the relocation.

Overall, the existence of virtual visitation can be a positive factor in a child relocation case. It can be useful for maintaining a relationship between a parent and child despite the distance. However, it is important to note that this is not a substitute for in-person visitation. It is best used as a supplement to, rather than a replacement for, regular in-person time with the child. Moreover, it is just one of many factors that the court will consider in making its decision. Ultimately, the court will still prioritize the best interests of the child.

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