Does a web cam constitute a phone call?

Question: In our parenting agreement with my ex, it says that I can call any time between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. I have been using Skype to call my kids.

My ex is claiming that Skype is not a phone call and has cut me off from Skyping my kids, on Christmas Day no less, which she says she’s allowed to do. Does Skype constitute a phone call?


Answer: Skype has a feature which places a call to a telephone, however, I am assuming you are using the feature which allows you to talk to your children via a webcam on the computer.  Skyping with the webcam is free for both users provided she has unlimited internet access.

The spirit of your parenting agreement was to provide you contact with your children between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.  I do not practice in Alaska, but I would say your spouse was out of line in not allowing you and your children to Skype.  Unless she has to pay for the additional Internet time, she will look pretty ridiculous before the Court arguing that Skyping should not be allowed because it is not technically a call with a phone.

You should contact an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction immediately.  The attorney may be able to send her a firmly worded letter which may solve the problem.  However, in the event that your ex continues to prohibit Skyping, your attorney can file a motion with the Court to specifically allow Skyping and any other technology which allows you to communicate remotely with your children from 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.


Erica Christian is an Associate Attorney in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin, office of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Wisconsin. She is a member of the Wisconsin Bar Association, the Family Law Section and the Children’s Law Section.

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