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Skype Divorce Accessory

Posted By Jolyn Rudelson On 06.14.2011 @ 6:36 PM In General | Comments Disabled

As the 21st century began, few envisioned that the Web Cam and its incorporation in 2003 by Skype, both still in their earliest years of development, would so quickly come to have such a wide reaching effect on divorce and the families dealing with it.

Considering the advancements that have been made in only eight years, the future benefits appear to be limitless.  Who could imagine that service men thousands of miles away from their families could now use Skype to keep close visual contact with their spouses and children?  I am sure more marriage have been able to survive the long absences by being able to have continual visual contact than have been broken  apart.

But who would have guessed the effects of Skype on a family actually breaking up.  Certainly not the Muslim man I read about recently who decided to make a “Skype joke” while connecting with his wife.  He typed “Talak, Talak, Talak,” It seems that with that pronouncement, “I divorce thee” three times he had inadvertently divorced his wife.  At least that was what one the leading authorities on Islamic religious law ruled recently.  I hope nobody else gets any ideas.  It certainly is better then an E-mail break up.

Skype in only a few years has come to be involved in divorce in so many ways.  Professionals  now offer divorce counseling as well as mediation services by Skype.  But the best application of all is that Skype allows non-custodial parents to temporarily fulfill that longing to see their absent children.   It prevents a parent from missing the gradual changes of those natural growth spurts, the loss of those first teeth or the development in vocabulary.  They can also  watch their daughter twirling in her new tutu or a son modeling his newest team uniform.  And we must never forget the advantage to long distance grandparents of being able to actually see and interact with their grandchildren.  I know it has made me feel a part of  my grandsons lives even if I am only able to Skype with them when they are with their dad.

Family court judges too are finally taking notice of the value to improving the divorced family dynamic.  In 2010 The New York Law Journal reported a judge ruling which required a divorced mother to include Skype in her plans if she intended to be given the right to move her child a distance away from the father.  At that time, the article considered the order to be “precedent setting,” something that could lead to orders like it being enacted by other judges in the future.

Well I for one smiled when I read that.  They were a little behind the times.  In 2006 when my grandchildren were moved 1000 miles away from their father, he had his divorce degree modified to include a three time a week Skype call.  At first the equipment wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now but he made sure he kept updating his equipment with each technical advancement.  As of a month ago he has skype on his I phone, Ipad, as well as his computer.   He can Skype literally anywhere.

With everything good though there seems to be the potential for a backlash.  Judges rulings including  Skip requirements  have made some father’s rights groups nervous.  They are worried that there is a potential for some Judges considering “visitation” via Skype as good enough.  In other words Skype as an adequate contact with the need for the real parenting that fathers crave to be able to provide for their children.  Attorney Robert Franklin indicated his concerns in a March 2011 article: After the most leading family judge in the UK told a father fighting to stop his ex wife from moving her child away from England  “That modern ways of keeping in touch meant the children’s move would not destroy their relationship.”

In response Franklin wrote the following  “To state the obvious, pretending that Skype is an acceptable substitute for hands-on- parenting will only make a bad situation worse.”

I think that Judges attorneys and parents need to start looking at the positives of what Skype can provide. Supporting the proposition that it can add to the parental relationship, not replace it.

I for one proposed in my book IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU: A Grandparent’s Guide to Surviving Divorce:

“For the divorced father or mother, separated from the children during the other parent’s parenting time, the Web Cam and Skype deserves a Nobel Prize for the greatest development of the 21st century.  ……….. Surely this is what Alfred Nobel meant in his will, ‘Prizes for those who confer the greatest benefit to mankind’.  It certainly has been proving to be one of the greatest benefit to divorced mankind.”

Some may not think as highly of Skype as I do, but Nobel Prize or not, Skype is here to stay and grow.  Parents should never stop fighting to protect their relationship with their children. They should keep insisting that family courts don’t try to replace the time non-custodial parents are given to spend with their children with any “modern ways.”   Skype isn’t meant to fill in for the parenting role, but it is a wonderful tool to use to strengthen parental/offspring relationship.  Keeping a parent in touch with their absent child visually is like feeding a starving man a meal, not providing him with a banquet.

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