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‘Skyping’ with child might not qualify as visitation

Videoconferencing technology such as Skype, FaceTime, and Google Video has made remote face-to-face communication so cheap and simple that it’s fast becoming part of everyday life. But does a video chat between a parent and a child count as “visitation”? A recent North Carolina court decision suggests that it might not.

The case involved a mother who suffered from mental illness and who lost custody of her son due to neglect. In order to maintain the bond between the mother and the child, the judge directed the county to set up visitation via video chats over Skype. The county would set up the connection at a local parenting center, where the mother would be able to communicate with her son under the supervision of a social worker.

The mother argued that she was still entitled under North Carolina law to “appropriate” visitation, and that the Skype chats didn’t qualify.

And the North Carolina Court of Appeals agreed with her. It said that Skype could be used to supplement child visitation, but it couldn’t be used as a complete substitute.

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