Marital conflict may sometimes reach a point where one or both spouses may find divorce to be the only remaining viable option. It’s human nature to try and get the upper hand in the divorce proceedings once you know that you are no longer together and each one has to fend for themselves.
A friend’s advice, a movie, or a chat with someone on social media might embolden you to make a recording of a conversation between you and your spouse or between your spouse and another person. Correlating with this, it’s crucial that you follow the provisions laid down in the Code of Alabama Title 13A Article 2 if you want the recordings to be useful in court.
One-Party Consent to Record a Conversation
You need to be careful of two primary concerns if you attempt to record another person without their consent or knowledge:
- You are essentially violating their rights and opening yourself to criminal or civil liability
- Your recording may not be admissible in court even if you are not violating any legal rights
There is little reason for you to record from the perspective of a divorce case if you cannot use the recordings as evidence. Both parties to a conversation are required to consent to the recording in some states. Alabama is a one-party consent state. It is legally allowed to record a conversation as long as one party is aware and consents to it.
You have satisfied the one-party consent requirement if you want to record a conversation between you and your spouse. You can place a recording device while you speak with them in person or record a phone call that you have with your ex. Based on this, if you want to record a conversation between your spouse and another person, you would need the consent of at least one party.
For instance, you may want to record a conversation between your ex and a suspected extramarital paramour. It may be tricky to get the recording admissible in court if both parties were not aware or consent to the recording. In Alabama, it is a criminal offense to record communications whether electronic or oral without at least one party agreeing to the recording.
Showing Relevance is Necessary
Legally obtained recordings may be admissible in court only if they are relevant to the ongoing case. You need to show that the recording is relevant to the divorce proceedings. You need to show the manner in which it relates to your case. You may not be allowed to admit a recording just to show that your ex is a jerk or that they were cheating on you during the marriage if it is not relevant to your case.
This is especially true during a no-fault divorce in which adultery becomes irrelevant. However, if your ex is making threats, admits to lying in court, or is abusive – this recording can be admissible in court as it is relevant. You should speak with an experienced divorce attorney before you attempt to record a conversation. This will help you determine whether the recording will be legal and admissible for the right reasons.
Surveillance of Spouse in Alabama
You may feel the need to take videos and photographs of your spouse in addition to recording their conversations. You may think of hiring a private investigator for this or do it on your own. Pertaining to these circumstances, you need to understand that Alabama’s same privacy and admissibility considerations come into the picture when surveilling.
You are in compliance with the one-party consent rule if you are part of the conversation. Furthermore, if you are recording your ex separately, or trying to catch them with a paramour for the purpose of proving an affair, you may be infringing upon their rights to privacy. You may also leave yourself open to a criminal lawsuit.
Stemming from this, there are certain exceptions to this. For instance, if you are recording your spouse in a public place, such as a hotel lobby or a park, the other person doesn’t have any reasonable expectation of privacy. Public area surveillance is not illegal. The recording may also be admissible in court depending on relevance. You can have surveillance cameras on your own property as long as they don’t trespass into any private area.
It’s best to leave surveillance to a qualified Alabama divorce attorney since it is a tricky issue. Your attorney will be able to collect evidence in a more above-board and straightforward manner. There is no requirement for proving adultery through recordings or surveillance if you are engaged in a no-fault divorce.
Talk to a Trusted Auburn, AL Divorce Attorney for Legal Advice
There are several ways that the experienced divorce attorneys at Alsobrook Law Group can help you obtain pertinent information and evidence that works in your favor during the divorce process. Our team of investigators and other experts can help you avoid potential civil and criminal charges. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your divorce concerns. We are happy to provide you with a free case evaluation. Call us at 334-737-3718 or reach us online.