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Even when visitation rights are freely given by courts in Illinois, one parent may not be in a position to fully utilize these rights. For example, if a parent’s job requires frequent travel, virtual visitation provides a venue for continued contact. Other examples in which this is a viable option include parents in the armed forces and parents who live in a separate city or state.

Defined as technology-based interaction and communication between parents and children, virtual visitation enables children and parents to connect in a variety of ways. These include email, telephone, webcams, social media channels, Skype or Facetime chats and photo or document-sharing websites.

Not every state allows electronic communication as a form of visitation, but Illinois is one of a handful in which the option is permitted. It is important to understand that this form of parent and child interaction does not replace in-person visitation. Rather it is a way to supplement parent-child time when physical visitation is not possible. As such, parents cannot take it upon themselves to substitute virtual visitation with physical contact. Instead they must petition the courts to supplement visitation agreements with electronic interaction.

Through virtual visitation, it is possible for parents who are away to participate in their children’s daily lives. Some ways a parent can utilize technology to interact with their children include reading bedtime stories, helping with homework, sharing special accomplishments and many others.

As always, Illinois courts will look at what is in the best interests of the child when making decisions about virtual visitation. If you believe this option may benefit your family, we invite you to reach out to one of the family law attorneys in our firm. You can also learn more about child custody on our legal website.