Friday's ruling appears to be the first in New Jersey and perhaps anywhere in the United States in which a court allowed the Internet to be used as a visitation tool, said the mother's lawyer, John J. D'Anton.
Kyron Henn-Lee's former husband had objected when she told him she wanted to take their 9-year-old daughter, Katherine, from New Jersey to Brea, Calif., and build a Web site for father and child to communicate.
But a three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of New Jersey's state Superior Court said the Internet would provide a "creative and innovative" way for Thomas J. McCoy and his daughter to keep in touch.
Under the ruling, the online visits through a Web site with video capability will not cost McCoy any of the 66 days he is entitled to spend with his daughter in-person each year.
The appeals reversed a trial court judge's ruling that denied Henn-Lee's request to take Katherine to California.
David Levy, president of the Children's Rights Council, an advocacy group for children of divorce, said the New Jersey case is the first one in the United States to involve Internet visitation.
Levy said he believes the ruling is the beginning of a troubling trend. The mother should have been able to find a better-paying job and school system closer to the father, he said.
"It's totally unacceptable. The parent did not give birth to an Internet baby," Levy said.
The couple have had an amicable joint custody relationship since their 1994 divorce, according to court records.
Henn-Lee said moving to California would allow her to take a better-paying job with medical benefits and flexible hours. She said she has also found a house in a school district that can accommodate Katherine's needs.
The girl suffered a stroke before she was born that left her neurologically impaired.