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Abuse Using Technology

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Updated: July 12, 2024

What is virtual visitation?

Virtual visitation is when parents use video conferencing, Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, and other technology to “visit” with their children. Virtual visitation might be included in a custody order if the judge believes in-person visitation is not safe or it might be included in addition to in-person visits. Often it is ordered when the custodial parent has relocated to allow frequent contact between the child and the non-custodial parent.

How can virtual visitation help me?

The custodial parent may use virtual visitation to allow contact with the non-custodial parent if in-person visitation is not practical or unsafe for the child or parent. Depending on what type of technology is used for a virtual visit, it could provide a log of the length of visits, missed visits, etc. If recording the visits is permitted, there could also be a record of what is said during visits. However, before recording a visit without the other parent’s knowledge, you may want to get advice from a lawyer to be sure this couldn’t negatively affect your custody case. In addition, recording conversations without the other party’s permission or knowledge may be illegal. You could read about recording laws on our Electronic Surveillance (“Spying”) page to learn more about one-party recording in your state.

What are the safety risks when using virtual visitation?

If you have moved to a safe location unknown to the abuser, you will want to make sure that nothing about your surroundings can alert the abuser to where you are. For instance, you may want to keep cameras pointed away from windows that may show a sign with the street’s name or other clues to your location.

Additionally, it’s possible that an abuser who wants to gain access to your computer to track you or steal your information could trick you into downloading spyware or malware by, for example, sending a link that looks like it’s related to the virtual visit app. You can read more about technology monitoring on our GPS Monitoring page and Computer Crimes page. You may also consider talking to a domestic violence advocate to safety plan around using technology with an abusive co-parent.