Virtual Visitation Connects Families Over Internet

Virtual Visitation Connects Families Over Internet

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Shelley Osterloh reportingUtah is the first state in the country to add virtual visitation to it's state child custody guidelines.

Virtual visitation -- also known as virtual parent time -- uses technology to connect divorced parents with their children who are thousands of miles away.

Shelley Osterloh takes a closer look at this revolutionary trend.

Michael Gough and his daughter Saige are in Milwaukee, talking over the internet with her grandparents 1400 miles away in Ogden.

This is how Michael --- a computer security consultant -- often visits with his daughter. He and his wife divorced two years ago. He stayed in Ogden, they moved to Wisconsin. One fourth of all children of divorced families live in a different city than one parent.

We teamed up with the NBC affiliate in Milwaukee to show you both ends of the conversation.

"Show Grandma what you got for Easter..."

"Oh, it's Tweetie Bird."

The Gough's say virtual visitation is one way to keep families together.

John Gough/ Grandfather: "At this age, she is changing so much as she grows up. We are going to miss a lot of it, if we didn't have some capability to see her. This is really a good thing in that regard."

Kitzen Gough/ Grandmother: "It's more like you are connected. You can be connected more."

Michael says a phone call with Saige may last a couple of minutes, but his virtual visits may last an hour.

Michael Gough/ Uses Virtual Visitation: "How many parents, even in a married situation, say that they spend an hour focused face on face with their children. So in that aspect, Saige and I have a tighter bond. She knows who her daddy is and can participate, ask me questions, show me things like her baby Katie."

To do virtual visitation you need high speed internet, a camera, the heaset microphone, and of course the software. If you already have the computer, the cost is about $150.

Gough led the fight to get Utah lawmakers to add an amendment to Utah's law including virtual visitation as an option for divorcing parents, in the same way they may be required to have telephone calls.

Joyce Maughn/ Family Law Attorney: "It has a potential, not only for healing wounds, but it has the potential for making new relationships."

And virtual visitation can be helpful to more than just divorced parents. Anyone can use this new technology to keep in touch through the internet, and more and more hotels are offering high speed internet.

Michael Gough has a website about virtual visitation and has just completed a book explaining how to set up video conferencing. You'll find a link to that site in the box at the top of this page.

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