Visitation schedules are unique in every family. Some parents have visitation every other weekend, while others have a mid-week visitation on top of weekends. In other situations, visits may be much less frequent for various reasons, such as: when one of the parents is under supervised visitation, or if parents live in different states, or if a parent travels during the week for work.Under these and other circumstances that make in-person visitation challenging, more and more parents are looking to virtual parenting time.
And guess what? So are courts. Many jurisdictions want to see parents split parenting time equally as often as reasonably possible. However, when this is not feasible due to things like work schedules and distance, technology is being used to fill the gaps.
What is virtual parenting time?
It is parenting time that is spent either over the phone, on Zoom, or on OurFamilyWizard’s new Calls feature. Video and audio calling in the OurFamilyWizard app creates a secure way for parents and children to communicate in real time for virtual visits. Plus, it keeps all your call details documented in case you ever need to share your calling history with your attorney.
Making the Most of Your Virtual Parenting Time
Every moment spent with your children is precious-whether that’s in-person or virtually regardless of whether the kids live in just one home or share time between two. If you can’t spend time with your children regularly, consider these tips to help you make the most of a virtual visitation schedule.
Help the children understand the parenting schedule
Depending on the age of your children, a visitation schedule may be difficult for them to grasp on their own. Part of helping them understand the schedule comes with maintaining a reliable agenda.
When appropriate, help your children to understand the visitation schedule by talking them through it or giving them a calendar to look at. If you use a calendar, place it in a location that the kids spend a good amount of time, like their bedroom.
This calendar should be something that they enjoy looking at, not something that causes confusion or sadness. You can even let them decorate the calendar by coloring in the days spend with each parent. Try using special stickers to place on dates when your child will have a virtual visit.
Plan ahead for changes
Once your children have a handle on the visitation schedule, they’ll grow to anticipate the transitions as they occur. While it is important to keep their schedule as steady as possible, there will come days where the schedule needs to be changed to accommodate the needs of one of the parents or the children.
To make the most of your visitation schedule, plan ahead for changes as they come up. Make an effort to inform your co-parent as soon as you know that you need the schedule to change. Work with your co-parent to adjust the schedule in order to fit both of your needs within reason.
Leading co-parenting apps like OurFamilyWizard allow parents to make schedule change requests directly through a shared calendar. When you have agreed on a change, update all of the calendars including your children’s. That way, everyone can prepare the make the most of what the visitation schedule will be.
Clear your head and have fun
When you’re spending visitation time with your kids, you should make the most of it. Going into it with a clear head will help you to center your energy on them and the things you are doing together. It’s easy to let everyday stresses get in the way of having a good time, but you can try to lower stress by taking some time to get your thoughts in order before your visitation.
Consider planning a few fun things to do with your kids when they visit you. If you can take them on excursions, consider going to local parks and museums. If your parenting time has to take place in a single location, have some fun things ready to do, like movies to watch or games to play together.
And of course, if your parenting time is virtual, have a plan of what you are doing. If that plan changes when you jump on the call, that’s OK! Children can be unpredictable. But at least you have something in mind for when the call starts.
Ideas for virtual parenting time
Just as you do when you have in-person parenting time, there are so many fun, meaningful activities you can do with your kids. These can include reading a book, having dinner together, watching a show together, playing a game, or even singing or dancing.
Use your virtual visitation time to create memories and share meaningful experiences with your child. Even if you aren’t together physically, these visits are important moments to bond and strengthen your relationship with your child.
In closing, we know how important parenting time is, both for parents and children. And one thing is certain whether you are in-person or virtual: you know you will leave feeling the love you always do for your kids.
Brad Benedetto is a legal liaison for OurFamilyWizard. His role includes educating judges, attorneys, mediators, GAL’s, and other family law professionals on the online tools that can be utilized to benefit and monitor parental communication in high conflict cases. Brad travels throughout the United States and Canada attending and presenting at dozens of family law conferences, roundtable discussions, and continuing legal education seminars each year.
Brad’s professional memberships include the State Bar of Michigan, SBM Family Law Section, Oakland County Bar Association, Macomb County Bar Association, Association of Family & Conciliation Courts, International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, and Grand Rapids Bar Association. Brad currently serves as the membership chair for the Oakland County Bar Association Family Court Committee. Brad currently serves as the Membership Chair for the Oakland County Bar Association Family Court Committee.
Brad earned his Juris Doctorate from the Wayne State University Law School and his Bachelor of Science from the University of Dayton. He maintains a family law practice based in metro-Detroit.
He is a licensed Domestic Relations Mediator by Michigan’s State Court Administrative Office and is an active volunteer with the Oakland Mediation Center. Brad also volunteers with the Family Law Assistance Project in Oakland County, serving low-income parents in need of domestic relations legal services.