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Secret recordings could soon play role in child custody

New York parents usually have their children's best interests in mind when working out child custody arrangements. Sadly, that is not always the case. A small number of parents do attempt to wrongly influence the terms of child custody by making false allegations against an ex or even by feeding false information to a child. With so much on the line, a New York court recently ruled that parents can eavesdrop on their small children in certain situations without violating current wiretap laws.

The ruling stemmed from a criminal incident rather than something within family law, but experts have already commented that it could have implications in divorce and custody disputes. The father of a 5-year-old boy secretly recorded a conversation in which the mother's boyfriend threatened to physically assault the boy. The cell phone recording did not surface until some months later when both the mother and her boyfriend were arrested. The boyfriend attempted to argue that the recording could not be used against him, but the court ultimately determined that the father was acting in what he believed to be his child's best interest.

Several experts have weighed in on the ruling, at least one of whom is explicitly involved in family law. While this is only one ruling, it has the potential to set a new precedent in which concerned parents going through a divorce might record conversations with their child. Still, this ruling would likely only apply to parents deemed to be acting in good faith.

Divorce can be a difficult process for children, especially when one parent attempts to shape a child custody agreement based on his or her own interests rather than the child's. This can make it especially difficult to create a custody agreement through mutual negotiations or mediation. Currently, proceeding to court is one of the best options for parents in New York who are unable to come to an agreement on their own.

Source: ABC News, "New York's Top Court: Parents Can Legally Eavesdrop on Kids", Michael Virtanen, April 5, 2016

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