Archive for May, 2014

Is it Legal to Tape Your Spouse During a West Virginia Divorce?

May 2014

Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald  Sterling is defending racist comments that he made on tape, claiming that he acted out of jealousy and was baited into making the comments. His girlfriend secretly recorded him making the offensive statements, which have gotten him into a significant amount of trouble with the press as well as with the NBA and other team owners. According to CNN, it is not clear exactly how the tapes ended up being released to the public and Sterling does not believe that his girlfriend was trying to blackmail him through the release of the tapes. Sterling’s girlfriend is also being sued by the man’s estranged wife to try to recover $2 million in gifts that Sterling gave to her.

The Sterling situation illustrates the risks of private conversations becoming public. These are risks that you can face whenever you are in the process of divorce or when you are not getting along with your spouse. Things that you say could potentially be taped and could be used against you in a variety of different ways during the process of your divorce.  Divorce lawyers in West Virginia should be consulted as soon as you determine that you will be separating from your spouse so you can get advice on what to do, and not to do, in order to protect your rights.

Taping Your Spouse During a West Virginia Divorce

In the state of California where the controversial Sterling tapes were made, his girlfriend likely acted illegally when she recorded their conversation. This is because California is one of 12 states  where both parties must consent if a conversation is to be recorded. The act of secretly recording phone calls or other conversations without the consent of both parties can result in felony wiretapping charges.

West Virginia, on the other hand, is one of 38 states where only one party must consent to being recorded. This means that if one of the two estranged spouses agrees to have the conversation recorded either in person or via phone, you are likely not violating the law.

Statements made on a tape could then be used against you to harm your interests. Anything that sounds threatening or that suggests verbal or physical abuse, for example, could be used to secure a restraining order and could potentially impact who gets custody of the children.

Because a taped conversation could be used against you, it is essential that you always act as if anything you say will be shared with the judge. Never be baited into saying something that you would not want to have taped and be sure that you understand the types of statements that could get you into trouble and have an adverse impact on the outcome of your divorce.

It is important also to remember that the consent of at least one party is always required before a conversation is recorded, so you should not tape your spouse’s conversation with other people. This includes conversation that your spouse may have with your children.

Contact a West Virginia divorce attorney at the Recht Law Offices.  Call 1-800-487-8546 today for a consultation if you are separated or ending your marriage.