Can I FaceTime My Child if I Do Not Have Custody?

After a very contentious divorce in Illinois, a father is dismayed to learn that he does not have primary physical custody of his children. Now his spouse is contemplating moving with his children to Florida. He is concerned about continuing his parental bond with his children and would like to FaceTime them regularly. His ex-wife comes up with convenient excuses every time he tries to FaceTime his kids. Now he is wondering about his rights regarding FaceTiming when he does not have primary physical custody. Can he force his ex-wife to allow him to FaceTime with his children?

Virtual Parenting Time Under Illinois’ Divorce Law

Under Illinois’ divorce law, child visitation is now called parenting time. Virtual visitation happens when the non-custodial parent interacts with his or her child using a form of electronic technology. This type of visitation is often called e-visitation and usually involves a parent using a webcam or real-time video such as FaceTime or Skype for visitation. When a parent lives in a separate state from his or her child, e-visitation becomes even more important. It is important to remember that e-visitation is intended to supplement or add to a parent’s relationship with a child. It will never replace the physical custody of the child.

Under Illinois divorce laws, electronic communication involves any interaction through the internet, email, computers, or tablets. Any electronic contact between a child and parent is dependent on the following rules:

The availability or non-availability of electronic communication cannot be a factor when a judge determines if a child may be relocated out-of-state by the custodial parent, and
The court will decide in which situations e-visitation is appropriate

Illinois courts have the authority to grant virtual visitation rights. They will not award virtual visitation rights if they decide it is not in the child's best interest. Electronic visitation will not be allowed if there is any history of abuse by the non-custodial parent or concerns about the child's privacy.

How to Obtain Virtual Visitation Rights

The first step in obtaining virtual visitation rights is to ask a family court judge if virtual visitation is available. Typically this is done at hearings to determine child custody or allocate parental responsibilities. If you did not discuss virtual visitation in your divorce hearing and would like to ensure that you have a right to it, we recommend discussing your case with an attorney.

Your attorney can ask the court to ensure that you have virtual visitation rights explicitly. If you already have a visitation schedule in place, you can ask the judge to modify the visitation order to include time for virtual visitation. It is important to take proactive steps regarding your virtual visitation rights with your children because these rights are not granted automatically.

Discuss Your Case With an Illinois Divorce Attorney Today

If you need representation for a divorce or child support matter in Cook County, Glasgow & Olsson is here to help. When you need an attorney, experience matters. Contact us today to learn how our experience can get you the results you deserve.

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