Can I Use Audio Or Video Recordings In A Michigan Divorce?

Divorce cases often boil down to a lot of “he-said, she-said” evidence. So a recording would help convince a judge to rule in your favor, right? Well…maybe!

Typically, arguments between spouses happen in private conversations where no one else is there to bear witness. The old adage of being a “fly on the wall” comes to mind. In today’s day and age, there are a proliferation of recordings on social media of people behaving in less than savory ways in public, and sometimes in private. Let’s explore this topic in more detail.

Can you use recordings as evidence in a Michigan divorce?

The real answer is, it depends. In Michigan, as long as one participant in a conversation knows they are being recorded, then the recording doesn’t violate any law. If you are in a conversation with your spouse, you can record it. There is no notice required to the other person that you are recording the conversation.  In such a situation, these recordings are admissible as evidence and can be very damning to the party that has made the threats or admissions.

Whether you are having a phone conversation, a video chat, or in person, you can record a conversation in which you are an active participant. This can definitely be used as evidence in your divorce case. But what if you’re recording something when you’re not present?

Can I put a recording device in my home and use the recordings as evidence?

You may not leave a secret recording device in a room, place a recording device on a phone, use tracking/recording software on a computer, or put a tracking device on someone’s vehicle in order to capture recordings or track someone’s movement.  First, this may actually be a violation of criminal laws and subject you to a criminal prosecution.

Second, any information that you might gain from this is not admissible in court and provides no advantage in a divorce case.

Third, there are often allegations of control or intimidation by one spouse in a divorce case and these types of recordings can be used to claim the secret recording is all part of a pattern of intimidation, control or abuse.

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However, private investigators are allowed to track vehicles and conduct investigations, so in some cases retention of a private investigator might be beneficial.  In addition, open and obvious recording devices in the home, such as a Ring camera device might provide admissible evidence as your spouse would know that the device is present.

Should I record my spouse if I am planning on divorcing them?

You may want to record your spouse if they are verbally abusive or manipulative. If you are in an abusive marriage, you may want to tread lightly as this could potentially set your partner off. If you are married to a narcissist you will also want to be careful about recording them, as they can become violent when exposed.

If you’re considering a divorce, contact The Mitten Law Firm for help