‘Skype visitation’ ordered when mother moves out-of-state

A mother can relocate with her children from New York to Florida if she pays for visitation via the “Skype” service that will provide a real-time broadcast between her children and their father over the Internet, a New York court recently decided.

The mother wanted to move from Long Island to Florida with the couple’s two children, ages nine and six. She planned to move in with her parents because the New York home was in the late stages of foreclosure and she was unemployed. The father was a recovering alcoholic who lived in employer-provided housing and couldn’t afford trips to Florida.

He objected to the move, especially because he had recently completed rehab and was trying to become a permanent presence in the children’s lives.

The court said that allowing the children to move to Florida was the best thing for them, since it would be traumatic for them to lose their home and they might otherwise become homeless.

However, the court ordered the mother to pay for “appropriate Internet access via a Skype device which allows a real time broadcast of communications between the [father] and his children.” It ordered her to “make the children available three times per week for not less than one hour per connection to communicate via Skype with their father.”

Moving 60 miles in Michigan

In another case involving a relocating parent, the Michigan Supreme Court decided that a mother could move 60 miles away and enroll her children in new schools.

Ordinarily, a parent in the state who moves away has to prove that the move is in the best interests of the child.

But the court said the father in this case couldn’t object to the move because his own parenting time wasn’t greatly affected.

The father can still see the children on weekends, the court said. As for visits during the week, the father’s work schedule only allowed him to make mid-week visits one week out of seven – and the court said that while the 60-mile distance made these visits more inconvenient for him, from the children’s perspective it made little difference.