Unfortunately, not all divorces or family law matters proceed amicably. In some cases, relationships deteriorate so badly that one spouse becomes verbally aggressive or abusive toward the other. If you are the recipient of threats and rants, it can be downright scary.
In some cases, people experiencing this situation wonder if they should make recordings of threats their spouse makes over the phone, on voicemail, and through other electronic means.
However, Florida law is strict when it comes to making recordings like this. If you have questions or concerns about recording a verbally abusive spouse, it’s important to speak to a Tampa divorce lawyer right away.
Florida’s Wiretapping Law
The word “wiretapping” may conjure up old black-and-white crime dramas featuring hardboiled detectives and foggy streets, but wiretapping laws are still relevant today. In fact, advances in technology have even led lawmakers to create new statutes governing how and when people are permitted to record others.
Florida is a two-party state when it comes to wiretapping, which means it is a crime to record or intercept oral recordings unless both parties give their consent. If there are more than two people participating in a phone call or oral communication, everyone must agree to the recording or interception of the communication.
Just because you have the ability to record something does not mean you should risk incurring civil or even criminal liability to do so — regardless of how difficult or unreasonable your spouse is being.
This means you are legally prohibited from recording your spouse unless you obtain his or her consent. You should also refrain from accessing your spouse’s computer or electronic accounts, such as email and social media profiles. The same rules apply to video recordings and keystroking software that gives you a log of what a person types on a computer.
If Your Spouse Is Making Threats
In some cases, a spouse’s verbal threats and other conduct goes beyond venting anger and frustration. If your spouse is harassing you over the phone, on your voicemail, or through social media, you should not ignore these threats. Similarly, if your spouse is making threats toward your children, this is something that requires immediate attention.
Although Florida’s wiretapping laws are strict, you still have options. If the court decides that your spouse’s threats rise to the level of harassment or stalking, the judge can issue a warrant that allows the police to record your spouse’s oral communications. The court might also issue an order giving both of you permission to record each other.
Communication Obtained Lawfully
Different rules apply when you obtain communications from your spouse without violating wiretapping laws. For example, if your spouse sends you threatening messages through Facebook, courts have ruled that a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when using social media.
In this situation, the communication is most likely admissible as evidence in a divorce case or other family law matter. Even in this situation, however, you should consult with a lawyer before making a recording of your spouse’s communications.
Call a Board Certified Tampa Family Law Lawyer Today
Your case is too important to leave in the hands of just any lawyer. Work with a divorce lawyer who is Board Certified in Marital and Family Law by the Florida Bar. If you are considering a divorce, or you have questions about another type of family law matter, call a Tampa family law lawyer today.
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