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How the Courts View Custody in Relation to Email and Electronic Communications

Electronic devices such as smart phones, notebooks, and laptops that provide email, texting, and web cam capabilities have changed the way families communicate in a fast-paced world.  Wireless technology has opened up communication channels between divorced parents and their children.  While Texas courts encourage parental contact for child development, they also realized a need to put electronic communications in the proper perspective and establish guidelines.

The Texas Family Code Sec. 153.015  Electronic Communication lays the ground rules for how electronic device communications relate to child custody.

Time spent with a child through instant messaging, Skype, or other forms of electronic communication is not a substitute for physical possession or access to the child (visitation).  Also, when determining child support, the court may not consider the availability of electronic communication as a factor.

Courts allow or limit periods of electronic communications with the child based on the child’s best interests and whether all parties addressed in the electronic communications court order have reasonable access to electronic communication devices.

Guidelines for electronic communication periods include:

  • Both parents have the child’s email addresses and other electronic access information
  • A parent must notify the other parent of the child’s contact changes within 24 hours
  • Electronic communications with the child receive the same privacy, dignity, and respect as other communications
  • Communications take place at reasonable times and for reasonable durations subject to limitations imposed by the court order

Contact a Texas child custody lawyer for answers to legal questions or concerns about an electronic communications court order.

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Robert Reid McInvale
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Robert Reid McInvale is an experienced family law attorney with a comprehensive practice in Houston. He provides dedicated and strong advocacy for his clients, helping them with all the issues surrounding their divorce, separation, child custody, and other marriage and family matters. Attorney McInvale—Reid to clients and friends—seemed destined for a law career. Born while his father was attending Emory University Law School, Reid grew up in Manchester, GA. His father was the city attorney for many years, as well as head of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. It is in the family blood to become lawyers and help people get justice. U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall is part of the McInvale family tree.

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