As family law attorneys, we are often asked whether it is okay to record a spouse. For purposes of documenting escalating issues or arguments in the marital home, or to gather evidence to establish your spouse as a liar or adulterer, perhaps it is.
There are two major laws that must be considered when addressing eavesdropping issues:
The first is the Federal Wiretapping Act which prohibits the interception of any wire, oral or electronic communication, and 18 USC section 2515 which provides that illegally obtained records or interceptions may not be used as evidence in any proceeding. The act also provides for civil damages and attorney fees. Recording a conversation under the Federal Wiretapping Act is illegal. However, section 18 USC 2511(2)(d) provides that recording a conversation is legal if you are a party to the conversation.
The second is the Michigan Eavesdropping Statute which prohibits someone from recording, amplifying, or transmitting any part of the private discourse of others without the permission of all persons engaged in the conversation. Notwithstanding, in Sullivan vs. Gray, 117 Mich App 476(1982) the Michigan Court of Appeal held that a participant is excluded from the definition of eavesdropping. Therefore, recording a conversation is legal under the Michigan eavesdropping statute if you are a party to the conversation.
Prior to recording a spouse to obtain evidence, it is important to consult with an attorney as laws are constantly changing, and you do not want to engage in criminal behavior. As it stands, if you are a party to a conversation, it is permissible to record your spouse. However, if you are not a party to the conversation, it is not advisable or permissible to record your spouse as you may be engaging in criminal behavior which could result in prosecution or further negative implications in your divorce or post-judgment matters.
About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)
The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men and practices a policy of integrity in all dealings.