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Child Visitation and Skype

With the advancements in technology, and with more children becoming familiar with the family computer, parents and children are finding communication via email, Facebook, Skype, or text message a common alternative to face-to-face conversations.  With an adult-child of our own, living on the other side of the country, my wife and I use a combination of these methods to maintain communication with her; likewise, as an adult-child myself, I communicate with my out-of-state father in similar fashion.   In making orders of child custody and visitation, the Court must consider the “best interest of the child” before deciding where and with whom the child will live.  More and more, single parents who obtain custody are moving away from the non-custodial parent’s city, leaving that parent wondering how they will maintain frequent and continual contact with their child.   Frequently, courts include terms within their orders that provide for phone calls and “virtual visitation” via Skype, where the parent and child use a web-based program and camera to speak with each other while looking at each other.  On the surface, this seems like a quick fix; but Skype (along with other forms of non-personal contact) may cut both ways.  While providing people the opportunity to “see” each other, or the ability to show off school work and projects, a Skype interaction may leave the parties feeling, let down.  You can’t hug your child through a web-cam, nor can you tuck your little one in through a phone line.  Skype is a great program, if utilized properly it allows children and parents the chance to “visit” between visits.  But it does...

Choice of Religion & Child Custody

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution, federal, and state law, limit Courts from making orders that obstruct a parent‘s right to observe and discuss their religious tenets.  In proceedings for child custody, the Court is often asked to make orders pertaining to the child‘s religious heritage and input, when making orders that should be determined by the best interest standards.  The reoccurring issue is the balancing act between considering religious heritage and preference with issuing orders that prohibit or permit religious ceremony. The United States Supreme Court held that government intrusion into the parents’ fundamental right to raise children in a particular faith violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  A parent‘s religious beliefs alone do not render the parent unfit and parents may be allowed to expose children to different faiths. Before a Court interferes with a parent‘s right to religious expression, there must be a showing of a substantial harm to the child, which must extend beyond confusion about faith.  However, the Court may deny the non-custodial parent‘s attempt to litigate or enforce religious freedom rights where that parent does not have custody of the child.  Therefore, obtaining an order for custody of your child is very important and the first step in retaining input into your child’s life. During child custody proceedings, the Court must balance the confusion of the child against the sanctity of the right of freedom of religious choice, while the law protects expressions of religious views even while in conflict with a child who is exposed to parental conflicts regarding their personal faith. If you have concerns about...