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Hello, my name is Andrew Feldstein and I am the founding/managing partner of the Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I will be discussing the issues of access by means of virtual visitation. The constant progression of technology has allowed people to connect and interact in new ways. Further, the Internet has quickly become an essential tool inside the workplace. It has provided a new means of maximizing contact, not only between businesses, but amongst family members as well.

Programs such as Skype and Facetime have allowed their users to view each other while having a conversation, even though the parties may be separated by hundreds of kilometres. While the issue of relocation may have weaken the bond between child and access parent, the use of technology has become a means to strengthen that bond. Now, parties who would otherwise visit their children living with their former partner, may see their children through the use of Internet.

I caution those who would consider “virtual visitation” as a substitute to “physical” visitation. How appropriate this method of visitation is, depends on the facts of each case. The chances of exercising access by these means with a two-year old child are minimal because a two-year-old will not understand what is occurring, nor will they have the attention span to make such access effective. On the other hand, older children who are accustomed to such technology may be a better beneficiary of such access that is both convenient to the parent and the child.

The emergence of “virtual visitation” has provided judicial decision-makers with another means of ordering access. Furthermore, the cost of implementation of such access is minimal considering the alternatives in cases where the parties are separated by hundreds of kilometres. As courts come to recognize the benefit of virtual visitation, I can see these types of orders becoming more common in family courts.

Again, virtual visitation can form a short-term bridge for a transition period between the parties and can also offer parties an additional method of exercising access during the week, where physical access may be impossible. In short, virtual visitation provides parents with a consistent means of access, as opposed to exercising access in chunks of time. I want to note that I too am an access parent and when it comes to spending time with my children I cannot imagine what it must be like to be separated by hundreds of kilometres from my child. I do not believe that virtual visitation is nearly as good as real visitation in real time with your children. However, in some cases it’s the only alternative and the only substitute and in that case it may make sense.

If you have any further questions regarding access, please contact us at 905-581-7222 to come in for a consultation.