Child custody and electronic communication go hand in hand as a means of staying in touch with children. The digital age has ushered in a whole new way of life. Smartphones, laptops, tablets and other devices have become commonplace. And, even when a child is spending time with the custodial parent, such devices make it possible to stay in contact with your child.
Texas laws regarding child custody and electronic communication
The Texas Family Code encourages “frequent and continuing contact” between children and parents. However, parents must be able to act in the children’s best interests. The law considers that a safe, stable and non-violent environment can serve the child’s well-being. For this reason, the code encourages parents to share child-raising rights and duties.
Electronic Communication Between Children and Parents
Electronic communication refers to any communication through wired or wireless technology via internet or other electronic media. This would include:
- Instant messaging
- Videoconferencing or webcam
The court can determine whether electronic communication is in the child’s best interests. In addition, the court evaluates whether all parties have reasonable availability to electronic communication.
What responsibilities do parents have under this law?
Each parent must provide the other parent with their email address and electronic communication access information. They must do so no later than 24 hours after they set up or make a change in the information.
Parents must provide accommodations for the same degree of privacy, respect and dignity provided for other access to the child. In addition, the time must be reasonable and so must the duration of contact. Court orders specify the duration of contact.
How does domestic violence factor into electronic communication?
In keeping with the “best interest of the child” doctrine, there are restrictions when domestic violence is a court finding. Mutual agreement between the parents must exist for awarding periods of electronic communication. Also, the award must be printed in the court’s order in boldfaced, capitalized type. The order must also include any specific restrictions related to family violence or supervised visitation.
The Law Office of Lindsey J. Wilson provides legal representation for clients in cases involving family law, custody and support, divorce, property division and modifications and enforcement.