Recording Conversations In Your Pennsylvania Divorce
Not everyone has recorded evidence of every instance their spouse says or does something that could be used in a divorce. When no one is around, one spouse may admit to hiding or misusing assets in order to ensure the other spouse does not get something in a divorce, or admit to bad conduct concerning the children. In an effort to record these conversations, some spouses may take steps to start recording conversations with their soon to be ex-spouses.
However, as satisfying as it would be to get a spouse on tape admitting to all sorts of improper conduct, setting up the recording could result in criminal behavior. It is a felony under Pennsylvania law for a person to intercept oral or electronic communication, this covers recordings. There are exceptions to this law, for example when a person agrees to being recorded. However, Pennsylvania is a two party consent state. This means that when a conversation between two people is being recorded, both people in the conversation have to agree or consent to the recording.
In addition to state wiretapping laws, there are federal laws that prohibit the making of a recording secretly, even if the purpose is solely to use the recording in a divorce proceeding. In addition, the Pennsylvania law applies to successful interceptions as well as attempted interceptions. So if a spouse discovers software or secret recording equipment set up by a former spouse for secretly recording their conversations, the former spouse could be criminally prosecuted.
These laws against interception of electronic communication necessarily cover email and other such electronic communications. This does not mean that a person cannot use an email that is sent to him by a spouse in a divorce. However, a person cannot use emails he gets by illegally hacking into a spouse’s email.
Because making recordings of conversations without consent is illegal, a person who makes such recordings cannot use them in court. Generally, evidence that is procured illegally cannot be used, even in a divorce case. While a person can use a recording in other ways that could make a difference in the divorce, using the recording to blackmail a spouse to giving up more in the divorce could also seriously back fire on the spouse who possesses the recording.
Remember that in Pennsylvania divorces can be granted based on irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. There is no need to record conversations regarding adultery, especially if doing so could open the recording spouse to criminal liability. If a spouse wants to make a claim that the other spouse has misused marital funds while committing adultery, there may be other ways to prove this claim. Social media may be one method used to prove this.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Divorces can sometimes get very messy, and having an experienced divorce attorney walk you through the process and explain what you should avoid doing can make the process of a Pennsylvania divorce less stressful. For a consultation, contact Barbara Flum Stein & Associates in Media, Pennsylvania and serving Delaware County in all divorce and family law matters.