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Virtual contact and child custody

California parents who are negotiating child custody during a divorce might encounter issues related to virtual contact, such as that between non-custodial parents and their children through cellphone calls, texting and the use of FaceTime. Particularly for non-custodial parents who live far away from their children, virtual contact is necessary to ensure that the relationship between parent and child continues to develop. However, in some instances, custodial parents might want to limit or even block virtual contact.

Blocking virtual contact is a delicate matter, especially since in most cases courts will grant some sort of visitation for non-custodial parents. When it comes to child custody decisions, the court will usually lean towards both parents having access to their children, and this includes virtual access. There are exceptions, of course, such as in cases where there is a history of domestic abuse, neglect or some other special circumstance such as harassment or threatening through virtual platforms.

A custodial parent cannot simply block the other parent’s access to their children through virtual contact. To do this, there must be a court order in place. If there is a court order that grants the non-custodial parent visitation rights, then the custodial parent must request a modification of it. Before doing this, the custodial parent must document each time when the other parent excessively used virtual contact as evidence for the original court order to be modified. In many cases, the court will set a schedule for calls and other virtual contact if the parents disagree about the timing and the amount.

Parents involved in this type of dispute might seek the guidance of their respective attorneys to help them negotiate a solution and avoid going to court. In some cases, mediation might be an appropriate way to reach an accord.