Judge: Mom Can Take Kids To Fla., But Only If Video Chat Used

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBS 2/1010 WINS)  — It’s a rare, unconventional order from a divorce court judge. He is forcing a divorced couple to use “Skype” for the sake of the children.

As CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reports, the judge is so dead-set on the strategy he said the mom wasn’t allowed to relocate until she agreed to go hi-tech.

Debra Baker held a copy of the judge’s decision, which is being called one of the first of its kind in the country, allowing her to move her two children 1,200 miles away from their father if she pledges to set up Skype video conferencing chats from Florida.

“We’re going to be able to afford living down there more easily and they’ll still be able to have a relationship with their father via Skype,” Baker said.

“We’ve set up Skype so my son actually communicates with his friends all the time on it so he’s used to using it,” Baker told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “He’s looking forward to being able to talk to his dad that way.”

“She will be using Skype. That’s what was in the decision. It’s free to download. Three times a week for an hour she will have the children available,” attorney Jennifer Goody added.

State Supreme Court Justice Jerry Garguilo handed down his ruling In Central Islip and it is already creating a buzz in national law journals.

CBS 2 spoke via “Skype” with matrimonial expert attorney Carl Wand, who said a video chat may allow more divorced couples to relocate apart.

“It certainly will give us food for thought, and I think it is something other judges will consider. And it is a move forward using technology,” Wand said.

James Baker’s attorney said his client vehemently opposes the move and may appeal citing psychologists who worry about the affects on children of divorce. You can’t reach out and touch and hug over the Internet.

“From my client’s perspective, he has no computer skills and doesn’t even know how Skype works, so he’ll have to learn that,” attorney Bruce Vetri said.

Debra Baker said she hopes her ex-husband can learn to play online sports with their 9-year-old son.

“I’m sure he’ll have the same enjoyment level with his father. He can still enjoy some of the same things. It may be virtual but he can still do it,” she said.

Debra Baker is moving this week to Florida with her children in order to get ready for the coming school year. She said her Skype equipment is packed and ready to go.

The judge’s decision also allows James Baker three weeks of unsupervised visitation per year.

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