Thu, March 2, 2006
families connect via web

New technology means divorced parents now have the option to point and click to see the kids who've moved to far-off places.

And while virtual visitation -- via gadgets like Internet webcams -- is or soon will become a legal alternative in long-distance divorce cases in a number of U.S. states, the practice has been, at least unofficially, adopted in Calgary's courts, say local attorneys.

In most cases, a judge's intervention isn't even necessary, said divorce lawyer Richard O'Gorman.

"In my experience if two parents can sit down and determine this additional communication will help little Billy, they don't need a court order," O'Gorman said, adding Canada's current legislation doesn't deal with specific ways a parent can interact with the children they no longer live with after a marriage breakup.

With a good webcam-equipped computer selling in the $1,000 range, there's usually little resistance to the idea on either side of the case, agreed fellow litigator Diann Castle.

"Most lawyers in this area will tell you as soon as the technology is available the parents and children use it," said Castle, who deals with many of these kinds of cases -- including one in which the mom moved to Montreal while the dad stayed in Calgary.