I wrote in July that Wisconsin was mulling bills that would allow divorced parents to visit their children “virtually” — through computer videoconferencing and other electronic means. Yesterday, the bill was passed into law. Michael Gough of InternetVisitation.org says this makes Wisconsin the second state to enact a virtual visitation law.

  • I think it is important to point out that in Massachusetts has already had a case that has set a precedence that Virtual Visitation may be used to justify a move-away. The Cleri case shows this unfortunate fact.

    Legislation we promote puts the guidelines in place to help prevent what happened in the Cleri case and Lee case (NJ) so that the courts do not consider Virtual Visitation when considering a move-away.

    It is always better to have legislation for an item like Virtual Visitation than not. The courts tend to follow the statutes when reasonable and in the child’s best interest.

    Without legislation we are allowing the courts to make whatever decision they want, however they want, without any input from those of us that use it as to what and how it should be used.

    We look to get legislation in place in order to prevent misuse and encourage its use to “suppliment” in-person time, never replace it. Those of us that use Virtual Visitation have more contact than the typical divorced parent and never give up any in-person time.

    With 34 million children in the US with a parent living in a different city and with move-aways already affecting 25% of divorces, children need a better solution than the telephone alone and the few in-person visits they have with their non-custodial parent. Virtual Visitation is one such tool that can help to reduce the issues caused by divorce, but of course, it can never replace the real in-person time you spend with your children – only suppliment it.

    Also, many divorces are basically cooperative and do not end up in front of the courts. The legislation we support allows attorney’s to offer this option to their clients as it will be in the statutes, providing another option for parents to keep in touch with their children, something they would not have considered until now. Clearly upset divocing parents would not think of using Virtual Visitation on their own most of the time. They seek legal advise to take care of this painful and emotional experience and attorneys can now offer it to them with the guidelines of how to apply it.

    Michael Gough