Parents Win Custody of Kids After Skype Testimony

By Michelle Amodio July 21, 2011

Here is a great example of how internet telephony is good for more than just business communications.

Alfonso Mejia and Margarita Almaraz were deported back to Mexico from the United States, however their children remained in U.S. custody. Faced with fears that they would never be able to see their children again, the couple’s lawyer managed to find a way to allow the parents to testify from Mexico via Skype that the reasons for their deportation were, in fact, false.

The children were kept from their parents due to allegations that Mejia had abused two of Almaraz’s children from a previous relationship.

According to the Associated Press, the couple were not familiar with U.S. legal proceedings and due to their immigrant status, the parents missed court dates and the state took the two girls away from them in 2009. The parents were then deported.

“They had already started the process to terminate the parental rights of the parents, to try to adopt the children out to an American family,” U.S. lawyer Deirdre Agnew said.

Since the allegations were never proven, lawyers on the case convinced the judge that by using Skype, the parents would be able to give their testimony without having to invest in expensive video conferencing equipment.

Agnew helped make the Skype call possible.

Mejia and Almaraz gave their testimony several times and were able to prove that they were fit to parent their children, having undergone therapy and having complied with court requirements. After hearing their Internet testimony, the judge awarded custody back to Mejia and Alamaraz.

The parents were reunited with their children that Monday after having been apart for more than two years.

Mejia stated that he hoped their case’s use of Skype opens up the door for similar cases in which travel to the U.S. is simply not economically viable.

“I would like to make a call that this not only be a precedent, but that it be continued, to help us to make this a reality for other parents as well, so that they can be with their parents once again.”

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO West 2011, taking place Sept. 13-15, 2011, in Austin, Texas. ITEXPO offers an educational program to help corporate decision makers select the right IP-based voice, video, fax and unified communications solutions to improve their operations. It's also where service providers learn how to profitably roll out the services their subscribers are clamoring for – and where resellers can learn about new growth opportunities. To register, click here.

Michelle Amodio is a TechZone360 contributor. She has helped promote companies and groups in all industries, from technology to banking to professional roller derby. She holds a bachelor's degree in Writing from Endicott College and currently works in marketing, journalism, and public relations as a freelancer.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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