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Michigan Family Law Blog

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Is it Legal to Record My Spouse During a Divorce?

It might be tempting to record conversations your spouse has during a divorce action. However, if you record your spouse’s conversations, you could be facing additional court actions, including criminal charges. Before deciding whether to record your spouse during a divorce, talk with a Michigan divorce lawyer to learn about your rights and obligations.

Laws Against Invading a Spouse’s Privacy

Federal and state eavesdropping laws prevent you from legally recording, intercepting, or listening to conversations your spouse has with other individuals. The Federal Wiretapping Act prohibits listening to or recording conversations your spouse has with others by wire, oral, or electronic communication. If you were to obtain the recordings, it would not be permissible. Likewise, the Michigan Eavesdropping Statute makes it illegal to record conversations your spouse may have without your spouse’s consent. The bottom line is that it is illegal to record conversations your spouse has with other parties without his or her consent. If you do, you could face criminal charges.

However, there are exceptions for recording conversations between you and your spouse without your spouse’s consent. Federal and Michigan laws have exceptions making it legal to record a conversation you have with another person without that person’s knowledge. It is also referred to as the one-party consent rule. Therefore, if you want to record conversations with your spouse to try to obtain information or evidence you could use in court, you would not be breaking the law.

Should I Record Conversations with My Spouse?

That question is a bit tricky. While you might not get into trouble if you record conversations with your spouse during a divorce proceeding, there is no guarantee the recordings will be allowed as evidence in court. Furthermore, the recording could backfire and damage your case instead of damaging your spouse’s case. 

Before recording your conversations with your spouse, it is prudent to speak with a divorce lawyer for many reasons. First, the laws regarding recording conversations with other people without their consent could change. Case law or changes in the statute could make recording your spouse’s conversations with you illegal. You need to speak with an attorney to determine the applicable laws, what the current laws state, and the current rulings regarding those laws. Second, you never want to take any actions that have the potential for an appearance of wrongdoing, especially in disputed custody cases. Before recording or taping your conversations with your spouse, you should weigh the potential advantages and disadvantages with an experienced divorce attorney.

Contact a Michigan Divorce Attorney to Discuss a Divorce Strategy That Is Right for You

Developing a divorce strategy, including things you should do and things you should avoid doing, is an important step in achieving the outcome you desire. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding today. An experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help you develop a strategy based on the facts and circumstances in your case. Our attorneys can also advise you of potential landmines, like recording your spouse, that could backfire if your spouse discovers what you are doing.

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