With the advancements in technology, one of the buzz words we have begun hearing about "virtual visitation."   In fact, recently, Julie Ganz, an associate in our Chester County, Pennsylvania office did a piece on our Pennsylvania Family Law Blog on "virtual visitation" and how it is being approved for use in a number of states.  Clearly, with cameras on computers, video chatting, Skype, Face Time on Apple products and the like, the quality of parenting time that a non-custodial parent can have with their children is improved.  Put another way, it seems that being able to actually see children, while not in person, and to have them see their parent, is still better then a phone call, email or text.

At least one court in New Jersey has followed the trend.  Specifically, in Margueron v. Baik an unreported Appellate Division opinion decided on March 21. 2011, a trial court’s Order requiring the mother to cooperate with establishing a SKYPE account to enable the father to see and communicate with his child by way of the internet. was upheld.  The facts in the opinion are scant but what is known is that the father was returning to France.  The order also provided that father  have extended parenting time with the child in August each year, one additional week each year, and extended time at Christmas in alternate years. The Appellate Division held that "The judge crafted a schedule that allows communication between father and child that accounts for the geographical distance between them." 

While in this case, the issue was one of distance, the question remains as to whether distance should be a prerequisite to using the new technology, or whether it should be used in every case, no matter the distance.  A complaint, if not painfully sad lament from many non-custodial parents is that they used to get to see their children every day but now they can go days without "seeing" them.  While "virtual visitation" will unlikely ever be a replacement for the real thing, if available, why not use it?  We shall see what the court’s do with this going forward.

3 Responses to Parenting Time via Skype – Virtual Visitation Is Here

Facetime/skype is a really good advancement. And the parent/child get alot out of it emotionally. But the other parent is usually lurking in the background hanging on every word. It should be seen the same as a phone call, neither which can account for geographical distance (in my humble). Pretty cool though, I must admit!

Technology like this is great for parents, but agreed, you have to watch that it doesn’t become a means for one parent to bust into another parent’s time, especially when the child is away for the weekend, or just overnight. It’s tempting for parents to always be “attached” through technology, but it can also be a way for some parents to try to take control, even when they need to let go a little and give the other parent some much deserved alone time.

Do you really believe that a non-custodial parent can improve the quality of parenting time through the use of Skype?
Seriously, what’s your definition of parenting time?
As far as I know you cannot hug, kiss, feed or even change a child’s diaper via Skype.

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