When parents in Virginia divorce, decisions will have to be made about who will have the child in their care and when. While sometimes parents share joint physical custody, other times one parent will have sole physical custody and the other parent will have visitation rights. However, does this mean that the noncustodial parent cannot maintain a meaningful relationship with their child?
One study published in the Journal of Family Issues reports that consistent and frequent communication between a divorced parent and their child was an important component of ensuring that the parent and the child have a meaningful relationship post-divorce. This was the case even if a parent was no longer living with the child and regardless of whether the parents were able to have a cordial relationship with one another.
For example, when a child is not in a parent's care, that parent can still communicate with the child via text message or through social media. This helps the child understand that the parent cares for them and is available to them. The study reports that children may feel they have a high-value connection with their parent when they are allowed to directly text their parent or communicate with their parent through social media when they are not in that parent's care.
The study also found that parents who only reached out to their child either through talking or through text message once a month or less did not know as much about their child's daily life as those who had more frequent communication. The more contact a parent had with their child, the better they were able to preserve their relationship with their child.
As this shows, while children can benefit from cooperative co-parenting, a child custody situation in which one parent has sole physical custody and the other parent has visitation rights does not mean the child cannot maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents. With the many means available for frequent and direct communication available to parents these days, noncustodial parents can still find ways to communicate with their child, allowing the child to thrive post-divorce.