Monday, July 11, 2005

Virtual visits are eyed for child-custody cases - Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Journal

I have previously discussed my disgust with virtual visitation here.

Excerpts:

Gough prompted state Sen. Cathy Stepp, R-Sturtevant, and state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Racine, to introduce bills in each house of the Wisconsin Legislature. The bills state that if a court grants periods of physical placement to both parents, the court may grant a parent a "reasonable amount of electronic communication at reasonable hours during the other parent's period of placement with the child . . ."

Some fathers' rights groups have objected to Gough's efforts because their members don't want judges using technology as an excuse to replace physical visitation or placement time.

But Wisconsin's proposal has gained support because it includes language that would prevent a judge from replacing physical visitation time with virtual visitation, said Tom Pfeiffer of Verona, who serves on the board of Wisconsin Fathers for Children and Families.

More importantly, the Wisconsin bill is written so a judge can't use technology to justify a "move-away" with the child by the custodial parent, Pfeiffer said.

Custodial parents might object to virtual visitation because it could be viewed as too expensive or detracting from time spent with the custodial parent, Gunn said. But those are issues the court can address as it considers many other factors, Gunn said.

Assembly Bill 531 and Senate Bill 244 could be scheduled for public hearings in August or September.

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