Sterling Heights, MI asked in Divorce, Family Law, Child Custody and Communications Law for Michigan

Q: Can I use my own recordings of conversations between my ex-wife and I in Michigan court if she did not give permission.

Michigan appears to be, essentially, one party consent so long as the call is recorded by one of the participants.

I also told her numerous times I was recording all of our interactions to serve as a blanket statement.

She is consistently threatening to intentionally violate our mediation/custody agreement and going back on discussions and further agreements we come to, all while denying she ever agreed in the first place.

1 Lawyer Answer
Brent T. Geers
Brent T. Geers
  • Grand Rapids, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: If you have a custody agreement, then the only thing that matters is whether she - and you - are complying with its terms. If you two are making further agreements, that's cool, but understand that an agreement isn't an agreement unless both parties agree. When one party says "we agreed to X", and the other party says "no, we agreed to Y" or "we didn't agree at all", then the written custody agreement controls.

What matters is what is in writing. Of course, you could probably show your ex agreed to X and is now reneging. Hopefully that's in writing. What could come of that depends a lot on what "X" is, how it varies from the original agreement, and why.

Now, how do recordings play into that? Depends on the judge. A lot of judges have no tolerance for it. Keep in mind that legal custody is premised on the two parents being able to effectively communicate with each other. If one person is recording each conversation, whether they believe they must do so or not, that presents a serious issue that a judge will likely look to fix. Fixing it can happen in a couple of ways: order BOTH of you to communicate only through software that tracks and records; in more extreme cases; a judge could say "this is what the agreement is going to be so there's no reason for either of you to be communicating with each other about changes"; or, it could mean establishing a parenting time coordinator that you BOTH pay for.

In extreme cases, a judge could change legal custody to just one parent. And keep in mind that depending on the circumstances, you recording conversations can easily be flipped against you as attempts to provoke or intimidate.

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