Contested child custody cases are typically very emotionally charged. There are often heated conversations between the parties and, at times, these conversations may be recorded. While the memorialization of an abusive conversation is relevant and useful in a custody case, the recordings can also come across as an unnecessary violation of privacy.
However, this does not prevent certain conversations from being recorded. Therefore, it is important to know (1) when it is legal to record a conversation, and (2) that you should always conduct yourself as though every word you say may someday be broadcasted throughout the courtroom.
In general, in-person conversations cannot be recorded unless you inform all participants that they are being recorded. This means that it is illegal to hide a tape recorder in your pocket while you talk to your spouse, unless you inform them you are recording the conversation. The exception to this rule is that conversations which occur inside your home may be legally recorded, notwithstanding that not all participants have been informed or consented. Aside from this exception, recording a conversation in-person without the other person’s consent is illegal.
Telephone conversations can be legally recorded so long as at least one of the participants has consented to being recorded. This means your spouse can record a conversation between you and a friend, so long as the friend consents. However, this does not apply to a phone conversation where one of the participants is in your home. Say, for example, you pick up your home phone intending to make a call, and find out that your spouse is already engaged in a conversation with a third party. This conversation could be legally recorded without getting consent from either of the parties.
Legally recorded conversations are typically admissible in court. Heated conversations always sound worse in court. Therefore, if for no other reason (which there are plenty) conduct yourself appropriately.
The Oregon laws on recording conversations contain further complexities, and you should consult a lawyer prior to recording any conversations.
With a background in teaching middle school students, Russell knows how to craft creative solutions for parties with conflicting viewpoints. Russell practices in the areas of domestic relations, litigation, banking and lending, real estate and land use, and general business.