Virtual Visitation: Making It Work During COVID-19
Of all the consequences of divorce, the hardest is the separation of parents from their children. Regardless of the terms of your custody arrangement, it was tough. You wanted to be a consistent part of your kids’ lives and fulfill your responsibilities as a parent. So, you worked hard at it.
Then the coronavirus hit, making things even more complicated.
COVID-19: A Real Thing
We all know more than we ever wanted to about the novel coronavirus. It’s an easily spread respiratory infection that can cause serious illness, and Michigan is among the Midwestern states hardest hit.
When Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency, she issued some executive orders requiring Michiganders to largely stay home and limit travel. Scheduled to expire in June, the state of emergency was extended into July. And if there’s a second wave of coronavirus cases, restrictions could be re-imposed.
You don’t want to be responsible for spreading COVID-19 to your child or other family members (or contracting it yourself), and if the virus has already affected your household or that of the other parent, you’re obligated to steer clear for a while.
What’s a parent to do? Go virtual.
The Many Methods of Virtual Visitation
Some commonly available technology tools can help you maintain contact with your child, and you’re probably already using some of them:
- Real-time chat (such as Facebook Instant Messenger)
- Phone calls
- Video calls (FaceTime, Duo, Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp)
- Video game chats
If you have a smart phone, laptop or tablet, these tools and others are just a finger swipe away. Of course, electronic communication isn’t the same as in-person interaction. But there are ways to make it more meaningful.
Up Your Technology Game
One of the reasons electronic communication can seem unreal and unsatisfying is inferior technology. For your kid, living the techy life is probably second nature. You may not be so savvy. It’s time to get educated and better equipped.
For example, what quality of video call are you able to muster? If your phone or laptop is getting a little long in the tooth, it probably has a slower processor, muddier audio and a lower-resolution camera than a current model. It’s worth investing in an upgrade if you can. HD video, crisp audio and low latency will make you seem more present to the child seeing and hearing you on the other end. It’s a better experience.
Also, exploit these technologies to the fullest extent. For instance, online applications like Zoom have screen-sharing capabilities that enable you to interact with files your child is working on. This is perfect for homework sessions and makes your electronic time together more productive and less frustrating.
Stick to Your Schedule
When it comes to meaningful visitation, consistency is everything. Just because a visit is virtual doesn’t mean it’s less important, or doesn’t count. Don’t blow it off. Your child will thank you (eventually!).
During the COVID-19 pandemic, you can use your presence through technology to reassure your child and actually extend the amount of time you have with them.
Too much information?
We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.