Why military parents may need a virtual visitation plan

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2024 | Child Custody

Divorce can be especially complicated for servicemembers and their spouses – particularly if they have children. For example, a servicemember who may not be able to share significant physical parenting time of their child because of their responsibilities on the base, reassignments to other bases or deployment overseas may be unsure of how to navigate their parental rights and responsibilities.

If you are a divorcing servicemember, you may need to rely on virtual visitation to continue to be part of your child’s life on a regular, predictable basis. If it’s going to be your primary means of parenting time with your child, it’s particularly important to develop and codify a long-distance communication plan as part of your custody agreement.

By having a legally binding plan in place, you can minimize the chances that your co-parent will find a way to postpone this time, not make your child available or “forget” them. Even if your co-parent is fully supportive, having this plan will provide predictability and security for your child and hold both of you accountable for prioritizing this time.

What should be included?

The details of your plan will depend on a variety of things, including your child’s age, your own schedule and where you are (within the state, across the country or overseas). You’ll likely want to specify at least the following:

  • How often the visitations will occur
  • Who initiates the call
  • How long the calls will be (minimum and maximum length)
  • What time (in both their time zone and yours, if they’re different)
  • How the visitation will occur (phone, video chat and so forth) and what application will be used
  • Whether the other parent can be present (if they don’t need to be)
  • How soon notification of a necessary change or cancelation must be made
  • How soon a make-up call must be scheduled
  • How many calls can be missed (by either parent) before there are consequences

You may not feel you need to include this much detail, but it’s a good idea to have clear expectations set for everyone’s benefit.

Like any agreements involving your child, your virtual visitation plan may need to be modified as they get older or your schedule or circumstances change. With experienced legal guidance, you can negotiate a plan that works for everyone.