Spouses that are estranged or fully divorced often try to take matters into their own hands, in an attempt to show the court “who the other party really is”. A common feeling is that the judge is falling for the façade that their former partner is putting on, to hide their true nature – and their actions. This feeling can be magnified when children are involved, as the stakes and consequences of this “disguise” can result in the loss or partial loss of custody, visitation, or decision-making. Because the judges must weigh the information they are given by one party against the other, it is difficult to discredit one party’s testimony on face value.

The feeling of helplessness that arises from watching a mischaracterization of the person that has caused such a large amount of grief, stress, and pain is what drives someone to want to record their conversations with their soon-to-be-ex. It isn’t always the content of what they are saying that is being the main focus of the recording, but rather the manner in which they speak and communicate. A continuous pattern of abusive and inappropriate communications, in their mind, will set the record straight with the court. 

Ultimately, depending on the circumstances, some secret recordings can be helpful, as they may be the last line of proving a previously hidden factor, such as a spouse’s severe substance abuse problem, that they reveal in a recorded conversation. 

However, this type of action should be seriously re-considered, as one needs to keep in mind the parameters their jurisdiction has set regarding secret recordings. Not only could the act of recording be unlawful, which could result in its own problems, but the recording itself may not be admissible in court, rendering it useless and a waste of time. Before undertaking this course of action, consult with your divorce attorney on the advisability and legality of secretly recording a conversation.