The benefits and drawbacks of sharing custody in a digital age

Technology and modes of communication are changing rapidly every day. No one knows this better than your kids do. Depending on their age, your kids may already be regular users of social media, messaging apps, video chatting and programs you might not have even heard of yet.

This familiarity with technology can actually work to everyone’s advantage when it comes to sharing custody after divorce, thanks to options like virtual visitation. For many families, using technology to keep in touch with kids can enhance the parent-child relationship. However, there are some drawbacks of which you should be aware.

Benefits of technology

Technology can help keep parents connected with their kids, even when they are not together physically. A parent could get on Skype and read a child a bedtime story when he or she is sick; older kids can text either parent in an emergency; parents can stay up-to-date on a teen’s life through social media.

Drawbacks to consider

Too much technology can be a bad thing. If a child spends more time texting with the other parent when he or she is with you, then this can infringe on your parenting time. If parents decide that FaceTiming with a child can replace in-person visits, then both the parent and the child are missing out on critical — and often court ordered — time together.

Making the most of technology in your parenting plan

Generally, understand that technology should not replace in-person interactions, and it should not be used excessively or in a manner that interferes with either parent’s parenting time.

You can address technology, its use and any restrictions when you are creating your parenting plan. With the help of your attorney, you and the other parent can establish rules for when and how kids can virtually interact with parents. You can also discuss the possible penalties a parent can face if he or she breaks these rules.

Too often, people use technology as a weapon during divorce or child custody matters. However, when you embrace the benefits of it and set limits to minimize the drawbacks, technology can prove to be a useful tool in helping you and your kids overcome the difficulties of sharing custody.

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