California Move-Aways: Can “Virtual Visitation” Be Part of a Divorce Solution?

[this article has been updated since 2009 when it was originally published] 

New jobs and remarriage are two common reasons why divorced parents move out of San Diego or California. This may be on the rise with the increase of remote work due to the pandemic, but did you know virtual visitation has been around for years when it comes to move away scenarios.

Relocating or Move Aways

If you’re seeking to relocate with your kids, you’ll need the court’s permission first, or else you’ll be in violation of your court order.  Not that long ago a parent with sole custody had an almost unrestrained ability to relocate with the child, but California child custody law in move-away cases has gone through many changes in the past several years.  To decide whether to allow the move, the family court now looks at many factors, including whether the move would harm the child and how the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent will likely be affected.

Even though it’s no longer as easy for a divorced parent to move with a child, if the relocation is allowed, a non-custodial parent’s main concern is in finding ways to stay close to their kids despite the distance.  When this happens, parents may want to consider virtual visitation as a way of keeping connected.  Virtual visitation can mean chatting face-to-face online using video webcams, playing online games together, and instant messaging.  It’s not meant to be a substitute for the time you spend in person with your kids, but for long distance parents, video conferencing can help keep the relationship strong.

In an AP article posted on MSNBC, father Michael Gough spoke about how the technology helped to keep him and his daughter in contact.  Gough explained,

“I saw her first loose tooth.  I saw her haircut, new outfits – things you want to see on a daily basis but you can’t in person because you’re a divorced parent.”

For the same reasons, virtual visits can also help non-custodial parents who need to relocate.  Parents in this situation should also bear in mind how essential it is to modify your custody and visitation order so that you can maintain parenting time.

Move aways are one of the most difficult issues that can face families after divorce, and often a better resolution can be achieved through mediation.  Whenever possible, we’ll help you reach a mutual agreement with your ex-spouse and submit your agreement to the court for approval.

If you need to relocate with your kids, or if you need to prevent a move away, contact Minella Law Group’s family law attorneys at (619) 289-7948.  We’ll act quickly and take the steps needed to protect your family and work toward your goals. If you need further information about divorce of family law legal needs during the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 family law resources page.