Internet Visitation
January 18, 2001 8:33 AM   Subscribe

Internet Visitation So much for quality time. A New Jersey court "permitted a divorced woman and her daughter to move to California on the basis that the child's father could exercise his 'visitation' rights by staying in touch with his daughter online."
posted by frykitty (13 comments total)
They should cut his child-support down to paying for her DSL line. Geez.
posted by th3ph17 at 8:49 AM on January 18, 2001

Ridiculous. Good evidence that the scales have tipped too far over to the side of maternal vs. paternal rights...
posted by owillis at 9:32 AM on January 18, 2001

I don't know if this is maternal vs paternal, in that if the father had had custody, the decision might have been to allow email visitation for the mother. I think primary custody is a separate issue.

What irks me about this is the assumption that email is good enough; that email can replace a hug or a meal together. It can't, and obviously the father sees that. I feel sorry for the judge's children--they must have a cold life if this person thinks that email = parenting.
posted by frykitty at 10:12 AM on January 18, 2001

"McCoy retains the right to 66 days of visitation in person per year; the online visits through the Web-cam-equipped site (which presumably won't be advertised to the public) will not diminish that."

He still has as much face to face visitation time as he had before she moved.

posted by jennyb at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2001

Let's just hope that on the way to California, the mom doesn't stop in Phoenix, AZ and become a waitress at some second rate roadside diner. They'll be alright as long as they move to Encino and live next to some lonely man from Okinawa who could take the young girl under his wing.
posted by inviolable at 11:36 AM on January 18, 2001

jennyb, I think the issue is not how many days he can visit his daughter, but that even though he still has his 66 days, the judge is letting the mother move with the daughter, effectively making those days null and void. The justification is that he can still talk to her via email, which obviously is not enough.

He may have the same visitation time, but he can't go that distance every day.
posted by swank6 at 11:57 AM on January 18, 2001

"Creative and inventive"? That's all the courts have to say about a father's right to see his own daughter? As someone who's had to be away from my own family for four years (for College), I can tell you that meeting over the internet and actually being in the presence of my father and mother are very, very different. Sure it may seem creative as a novelty at first, but depending on the relationship the child has with his/her parents, internet time just isn't quality time. Keeping in mind that court rulings are also seen as precedents for future rulings, what happens when some judge refers to this trial in a case where the child has an actual bond with the parent? Will that kid be deprived of a father or mother just because the court has a creative and inventive solution? Parents divorce, children don't divorce their parents.
posted by Mllebleu at 12:29 PM on January 18, 2001

I can see this two different ways:

1) "Now that I'm divorced, I should be allowed to get on with my life as I please. I was awarded custody and can take my child where I think we should go. It's unfortunate that the father will be inconvenienced by this, but I have to do what's right for me." - Mother

2) "By making the decision to have a child with me, the mother took on a responsibility. Even though we aren't together anymore, the child needs regular contact with her father and her needs come before her mother's. It's unfortunate that the mother will be inconvenienced by this, I she has to do what's right for the child." - Father

Tough call for either side. Regardless, if the implication was that a webcam is good enough, the judge must not have any children.
posted by goto11 at 12:38 PM on January 18, 2001

in some states can't a spouse moving to a far off location lose full custody?
posted by th3ph17 at 2:25 PM on January 18, 2001

errr...Ex-spouse? parent, whatever?
posted by th3ph17 at 2:26 PM on January 18, 2001

swank6: Yeah, I know. I was just pointing out that the internet visitation, such as it is, wasn't being granted in lieu of his court awared face to face visitation time, but in addition to it.

posted by jennyb at 2:56 PM on January 18, 2001

The New Jersey Appellate Court decision backing the mother's appeal of the ruling that denied her visitation proposal. She's a web "designer", how technical it isn't clear.

"Plaintiff proposed the following visitation schedule for defendant: (1) two weeks between June and July coinciding with Katherine’s two week break between the end of the school year and the beginning of a special session in July; (2) the entire month of August; (3) the school break periods occurring between Christmas and New Years, in February and April, totaling three weeks. According to plaintiff, this would afford defendant the same total time (66 days) that he currently enjoys. In addition, plaintiff proposed building a web site, which would include the use of camera-computer technology to give defendant, his family and friends, the ability to communicate directly with Katherine on a daily basis and review her school work and records. Defendant would be afforded daily face-to-face communication with Katherine, albeit through an electronic medium."

The original judge focused more on the question of whether she HAD to move to California to get a better job, and since she hadn't exercised good faith in searching more in New Jersey, ruled against her. It's not clear where she met her current boyfriend, a resident of California.

In concluding, they say, "We believe that plaintiff’s suggested use of the Internet to enhance visitation was both creative and innovative. Dismissing the suggested use of the Internet, the judge never focused on the actual alternate visitation schedule proposed by plaintiff and whether it was comparable to defendant’s current schedule or inimical to the best interest of Katherine. We conclude that the judge failed to adequately consider alternative visitation plans. In reaching a determination, if the judge finds the actual visitation schedule offered by plaintiff is not sufficient, submission of alternative visitation schedules should be required in an attempt to arrive at a solution that assures the continued development of Katherine’s relationship with defendant and recognizes plaintiff’s right to move. "

The decision is reversed and remanded to the lower court. In other words, a replay before the same judge, with an admonition to the father that if he doesn't like this solution, he should propose something different.
posted by dhartung at 3:37 PM on January 18, 2001

Sounds better than what *I* got.

Mom moved away to another state, a thousand miles away, and we (me + bro + sis) were lucky to see Dad for a couple weeks once every 2-3 years. If that.

It sucked, by the way. This was 1976.

66 days a year doesn't sound too bad. And the webcam is a bonus.
posted by beth at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2001

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