Thursday, August 12, 2010


When going through a divorce, and when visitation with your children is at issue, can technology substitute personal contact? According to a New York Supreme Court Justice it can. A Long Island father just lost his two children, a 9 year old son and 6 year old daughter, to Florida as long as they communicate on Skype.

In the state of New York one parent may relocate with their children to another state if a Judge determines it is in the best interest of the children to move. It is always considered contrary to a child’s best interest to be far away from one parent, but when the custodial parent is struggling it might be best to allow that parent to move.

In the case referred to above, the mother of the children, an unemployed book keeper, had asked the court for permission to move their children to her parent’s home in Florida. The mother and father were married for eight years and their house is in foreclosure. The father objected to his former wife’s request, but the Judge decided to grant her permission as long as the new home has a web cam and Skype. The father will become the nation’s first court-sanctioned Skype dad. The Judge ordered that the father be able to chat with the children three times a week for at least one hour at a time.

Now, if the mother could not afford to live in Long Island, the father a construction worker could not support her and the children, and she had family in Florida who could help her, it is understandable why a Judge would decide the mother should be allowed to move with the children. However, is skype the best avenue to take when deciding the best means of fostering a relationship with their father?

On the one hand, the children have to sit and stare at a computer screen for three hours a week. Also, it is not known if the Skype contact is in addition to or in lieu of real personal visits and how many the father will have during the year. Also, will it be harder emotionally and psychologically on the children having their dad merely on a computer screen for a few hours a week? There are so many unknowns due to the fact that this order is the first of its kind.

On the other hand, most fathers whose children move out of state get holidays, school breaks and summers with their children. They also get phone contact. In this standard scenario it’s easy for the parent who moved the children to obstruct the other parent’s relationship with the children, by not allowing phone calls, failing to send the child for their visit claiming money woes, etc. In the case referred to above the Judge made it mandatory that the children chat with the father three times a week for an hour each time so the mother and her family, if they so wished, could not stop the father from speaking with and seeing his children at least through Skype. This may be huge for the father as he will actually be seeing his children and speaking to them more than most fathers, it’s just that he’ll be doing it over a computer screen.

So, we won’t know the effects of such a ruling for quite some time, but at least the father will be able to do his best at building a relationship with his children, even if it is over a Skype.

Would love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the Court ruling, so please comment and join in the conversation.

Until Next Time,

Helen M. Dukhan, Esq., LL.M. @

No comments:

Post a Comment