Serving as an active duty member of the military is a demanding job. In addition to the physical and mental rigors involved with active service, there’s the social pressure from being away from your family for an extended amount of time. Many married couples find it hard for their marriage to survive the distance and strain of active duty deployment.

It can be even harder to deal with active-duty service during and after a divorce. You may have a hard time staying in touch with your children because of your job, and that difficulty may result in a more imbalanced visitation and parenting schedule at first.

The good news is that modern technology makes it a lot easier for you to protect your precious relationship with your children during a deployment. Virtual visitation is a way for you to protect those precious relationships and remain an important part of your children’s lives even when you can’t physically be present with them.

Virtual visitation is accessible in many remote locations

Since the second Iraq war, it has become increasingly common for military personnel to access video communications with loved ones back home. Even those stationed in remote locations may occasionally have the opportunity to make a video call.

Although “virtually” being with one another is no substitute for being able to put your arms around your children and take them somewhere fun, it is still a way to maintain your bond until you come back home. It’s also a little more reassuring than a standard voice-only phone call, as you and your children can see one another’s faces and expressions.

You can include virtual visitation in your parenting plan

Even if your ex has primary custody of the children until you change your career or finish your active-duty service, that doesn’t mean you should relinquish your parental role. You also should not rely on the goodwill of your ex to ensure that you can stay in the lives of your children.

Even if you are not at a place where you can host them for visitation time or even see them face-to-face, including digital communications and virtual visitation in your parenting plan is a good decision. That way, you have a court order that empowers you to stay in contact with your children and that protects you in the event that your ex won’t let you talk with them for some reason.

Protecting your relationship with your children by staying part of their lives as much as you can while abroad will make it easier to play a more active role again when your career allows a relationship after the divorce. Creating a parenting plan that includes virtual visitation is a smart move for military parents.