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Recording Conversations-What are the laws on recordings and their admissibility in Family Court?

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RECORDING CONVERSATIONS In most states it is legal for you to record your own personal two-party telephone conversations as long as you know the conversations are being recorded (see related link below).

BEFORE RECORDING ANY TELEPHONE CONVERSATIONS IN YOUR STATE YOU SHOULD CONSULT AN ATTORNEY. IT IS A CRIME IN SOME STATES TO RECORD A TELEPHONE CONVERSATION WITHOUT BOTH PARTIES BEING INFORMED THAT THE CONVERSATION IS BEING RECORDED. IN SOME STATES YOU MAY BE SUED FOR INVASION OF PRIVACY IF YOU RECORD SOMEONE ON THE TELEPHONE WITHOUT INFORMING THEM ABOUT THE RECORDING!

IT IS ALMOST NEVER LEGAL TO RECORD CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN TWO PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW THAT THEY ARE BEING RECORDED. NEVER RECORD CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN YOUR CHILDREN AND THEIR OTHER PARENT WITHOUT THE OTHER PARENT KNOWING THEY ARE BEING RECORDED.

If you do happened to live in a state where it is legal to record telephone conversations without everyone knowing that the conversations are being recorded, you should strongly consider recording your phone calls. Very often the other side will make very damaging statements during phone conversation. Recording these conversations can help you win your case or at least prove that you are not the person who is calling and harassing the other side. Another benefit of having a recorded conversation is that you can use the tape to refresh your memory long after the conversation took place.

The best quality recordings are made by plugging directly into a modular phone. Several devices are available at RADIO SHACK. Always use freshly purchase tapes and only tape on one side.

Once you have taped a conversation, remove the tab to prevent accidental reuse, label it clearly, indicating start and ending dates. Keep a notebook on the tapes. Provide general information about each tape. List the digital count on those conversations which are most important. Make a note about the conversations. If you are going to show them to your attorney, you may wish to transcribe the entire conversation. There are services that perform this task. ALL PARTS of the conversation must be recorded and transcribed. DO NOT EDIT THE CONVERSATION.

Recording conversations on a cell phone raising some additional problems, but there is a solution, Skype (see link below). Skype is a similar program to Yahoo and other IM programs, only it also has phone service that works quite well. The service runs $8 a month.

You can get Skype, along with another phone number on web enabled cell phones. To this, obtain an "Add On" program that cost just $15 that will automatically record the conversations, saving them as mp3 files, which you can than download into your computer. From there, you can run a vocal recognition program to transcribe it into printed form, which is necessary for use in court.

When recording conversations it is best to remember the old adage that "people who live in glass houses should not throw stones." Since the recording device is on your phone, you will sound much louder than the other caller so be certain to control your tone of voice. Control your language and temper. Don't say anything threatening or hostile on the phone when you are being recorded because the same tape you wish to use against the other side could now be used against you. (It is not unusual to be stressed and to get angry over problems with the child's mother, but it doesn't help for you to lose your temper. Counseling to control stress is very useful.) You can be sure that once the other side finds out that you have tape recordings of them, they will want to get copies of your tapes. You will probably have to let them have copies of the tapes.



In court, the tape itself may not be admissible unless the party in the tape perjures themselves after questions on the stand.


If you are interested in tape recording conversations, you may wish to look at the following legal citations:

(1) 18 USC ' 2511D
(2) Newcombe v. Ingle, 944 F2d 927 (2nd Cir. 1993)
(3) Thompson v. Dulaney, 970 F2d 744 (10th Cir. 1994)
(4) 58 ARL2d 1024-105
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