There are multiple reasons you may want more information on your spouse’s activities during a divorce. Perhaps you want proof of their infidelity so you can file for fault, rather than a no-fault divorce. Maybe you think that certain types of evidence will help you in a custody battle.
Regardless of why you want this information, it is important to stay on the right side of the law. Not only is illegally gathered evidence not allowed in the courtroom, but you can also face criminal charges.
Learn more about what you can and cannot do in Alabama, and when you’re ready for more personalized advice, call Kirk Drennan Law at 205-953-1424.
One-Party and Two-Party Laws
Each state has laws governing when you can and cannot record a conversation. In two-party states, both parties in a conversation must be aware that it is being recorded for any recording to be legal. In one-party states, only one person must know. Alabama is a one-party state, so you can record any conversation you have with your spouse. You are the party consenting to the recording.
What About Conversations Between Your Spouse and Other People?
When it comes to conversations between your spouse and other people, you can only record if one person knows that you are recording. Assuming you are trying to collect incriminating information, it’s unlikely you’ll get the consent of either party in any of these conversations. Anything you recorded would be useless to you in a divorce—and you could be criminally charged.
Be Careful if Your Spouse is in Another State
Yes, Alabama is a one-party state, but many others are two-party states. What does that mean if you or your spouse are traveling? You may be bound by the laws in the state either party is in at the time of the conversation. If your spouse is in a two-party state and you record a conversation you have with them, you could be inadvertently breaking the law and gathering unusable evidence.
Surveillance and Spying
That addresses what you can and can’t do when it comes to recording conversations, although you should still always check with your attorney before doing so—you don’t want to get into legal trouble. What about spying on your spouse?
The law is fairly clear about this. Since surveillance focuses on what someone is doing, rather than what someone is saying, you can think about where the surveillance is taking place. If your spouse is in a grocery store, do they have a reasonable expectation of privacy? No.
What about when they’re in their bedroom? Then they do have a reasonable expectation of privacy. While you can record someone in a public place where they have no expectation of privacy, you cannot do so when they are in a private place.
Note, though, that just because spying on your spouse is legal in certain situations doesn’t mean you should do it. These sorts of plans can really backfire on you, set back your divorce negotiations, and make you look bad in court. If you think surveillance is necessary, talk to your attorney about possibly hiring a private investigator.
There are several advantages to this. First, a private investigator knows exactly what the law does and does not allow. There’s much less risk of gathering evidence that you can’t use in court.
Second, private investigators are very good at avoiding detection. No matter how sneaky you think you are when you’re following your spouse, you are probably more obvious than you think. This ruins your surveillance efforts, fosters further distrust during the divorce process, and could lead to a public confrontation. A private investigator can likely get the footage they need and get away without your spouse even knowing they are there.
Discuss Your Legal Options with Kirk Drennan Law
Don’t let the stress of divorce drive you to spy on conversations or follow your spouse around town. Talk to the team at Kirk Drennan Law about what your next steps are and how to get what you want out of the split. Contact us online or call us at 205-953-1424 to get