Use of Technology in Custody Orders

Technology infiltrates almost every aspect of our daily lives. We use e-mail, social media, Google searches, smartphones, tablets, and an enormous amount of other platforms and hardware items to connect both for work and social purposes. A prime purpose for the use of technology is to remain connected to friends and family who we do not see every day. In custody orders, technology can help parents stay connected with their children.

The New Jersey legislature has recognized the importance of parents remaining as connected as possible to their children. The family code was specifically crafted by the legislature with the goal of keeping both parents as involved as possible in the lives of their children. Social media and technology software and hardware can greatly enhance these efforts. Especially in cases where parents live a great distance from each other such that the children rarely have face-to-face visits with one of the parents, parents may want to consider inserting special provisions for FaceTime or Skype into their custody orders. Allowing the face-to-face conversation, even if it is by technological instead of physical means, provides an important opportunity for parents to connect with their children in a way that goes beyond a traditional phone call.

For older children, cell phones and tablets provide another method for keeping the children connected to a parent. If a child is old enough to have his or her own cell phone, parents can use this as a way to send text messages or emails to keep more connected. However, parents should be careful about sending messages, just as they should with phone calls. Sending repeated text messages, especially during time when the sending parent knows the child is spending time with the other parent, can be viewed as an attempt to disrupt the bonding opportunity between the child and the other parent.

Keeping in contact with both parents is crucial to a child’s emotional development and technology can help with that. Custody orders can be drafted to take these technological advancements into account. For Skype or FaceTime, it will be helpful to set up specific times and days of the week. Parents should be sensitive to the age of the children when determining what is a reasonable amount of time for a child to remain involved in this type of communication. Very young children are unlikely to remain engaged for a long time. Similarly, with cell phones, parents may want to insert provisions in the order for times when it is appropriate for a child to have the phone with him or her. Parents should also remember that a custody order is meant to bind the parents, not the children, and including provisions that would require a child to answer text messages or emails is not advisable. Instead, the order should provide that the parents will allow the child to access these messages and answer when and if the child chooses to do so.

Technology can be a great way for parents to remain in contact with their children, but there are special issues that should be addressed specifically in a custody order. Contact us today at (732) 529-6937 to discuss how technology can enhance your ability to communicate with your child.
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