Maintaining a strong parent-child bond does not always begin and end with time-sharing. Electronic communication, such as phone and video conferencing, are important ways to reinforce the bond between parent and child, and is especially useful in the case of long-distance parenting plans in which one parent resides far away or out-of-state. Florida law provides certain parameters for ordering electronic communication between parents and children.
According to Florida child custody laws, before ordering electronic communication, which is presumed to be in a child's best interest, a court must consider:
1. Whether electronic communication is in a child’s best interests;
2. Whether communication equipment and technology to provide electronic communication is reasonably available, accessible, and affordable;
3. Each parent’s history of substance abuse or domestic violence; and
4. Any other factor that the court considers material.
See Florida Statute 61.13003
If cost is a factor in electronic communication, such as obtaining a cell phone for a child to call a parent, the court can apportion the costs between the parents after considering their respective financial circumstances. Electronic communication is viewed by Florida law as a way to supplement in-person contact between a parent and child, and not as a replacement for it. Maybe because of this, a parent does not need to prove a substantial change in circumstances to ask for electronic communication when the parenting plan in place does not include a provision for it. Additionally, electronic communication cannot be used as a factor to calculate child support.
Parent-child communication is part of the foundation of a healthy parent-child relationship. Ensuring that your court order provides adequate and fair provisions for electronic communication with your child may start with a consultation with an experienced Miami child custody attorney.