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Does Facetime Count as Visitation?

As a non-custodial parent in Iowa, you have the right to visitation with your children following your divorce. However, you may live in another state or even another country than your children, or you may be a military servicemember on deployment, and you can’t always have in-person visits with your kids.

In this technological age, you have several options available for talking with your children and remaining involved in their lives even though you can’t be together physically. Virtual visitation is an acceptable method of child visitation in Iowa, and you can talk with your children through FaceTime and other similar applications.

Virtual Visitation in Iowa

The state of Iowa has established several forms of custody for divorcing parents that include legal and physical custody, as well as sole and joint custody.

One factor that can affect custody and visitation is a history of violence, abuse, or criminal activity perpetrated by one of the parents. Another factor that can affect a custody or visitation agreement is the proximity of one parent to their children. If one parent does not live close enough for regular physical visits, they can use other forms of communication, including virtual visitation.

Iowa allows the non-custodial parent “liberal visitation rights where appropriate” to encourage physical and emotional contact with their children after divorce. In many cases, the non-custodial parent may live close to their children, and they are able to visit with their children physically and share weekends and holidays with them.

However, some non-custodial parents live far away from their children, or they may be deployed overseas as members of the military. In these cases, the non-custodial parent can communicate and stay in touch with a child through the following methods:

  • FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, and other video conferencing applications
  • Email
  • Electronic messages and texts
  • Phone calls

Drafting Your Virtual Visitation Agreement

During your divorce, you and your spouse worked through a visitation schedule that became part of your divorce agreement. At that time, you might have included specific wording regarding virtual visitations. The visitation agreement can include stipulations regarding anything related to visiting with your children virtually, including:

  • Who will be financially responsible for buying your child a phone, tablet, computer, or other device to facilitate FaceTime, Zoom, or other virtual visitations
  • Acceptable times and days for virtual visits
  • Whether or not the custodial parent can be in the same room as the children when you talk to them through FaceTime

If you did not specifically include virtual visitation in your agreement, you could request a modification of your visitation agreement with the court. As with any visitation schedule, the court will consider whether using virtual visitation and electronic communications is in your child’s best interests.

It is important to note that virtual visitation should not fully replace physical visitation and should only be used as a supplement to provide an additional avenue for maintaining contact with your children.

Enforcing a Visitation Agreement

Once approved by the court, your visitation schedule will become a legal requirement that both parents must follow. Sometimes, life gets hectic, especially with children, and your ex may simply forget about your scheduled FaceTime with your children occasionally. If this seldom happens, it’s probably no reason for concern. However, you should seek assistance with enforcing your visitation agreement under any of the following circumstances:

  • The other parent refuses you access to your children through FaceTime.
  • The other parent regularly makes excuses for not allowing you to FaceTime your kids.
  • The other parent consistently causes the children to miss their scheduled virtual visitations.
  • The other parent completely ignores your requests to visit with your children through FaceTime.

Your first course of action is to try to talk with your ex about the situation and reach a resolution. Failing that, you can file a motion with the court to enforce your agreement. You will need the services and counsel of an experienced family law attorney who can help you draft your motion and advocate on your behalf before the court.

Contact Us for Help

Whether you need to modify your visitation agreement to include FaceTime and other virtual visitation, or if your ex-spouse is violating the terms of your approved visitation agreement, you will need to seek a resolution through the courts.

Since the process can be complex and challenging, you need an attorney on your side for help. The Cedar Rapids child custody lawyers of Arenson Law Group, PC have assisted hundreds of clients throughout Iowa with their virtual visitation agreements and other custodial matters. Contact us at (319) 363-8199 to request a confidential consultation.