Recording Devices and Spousal Separation Can Equal A Criminal Offense

April 2nd, 2014 by

In Ontario, is it legal to place a recording device in your own home while you are out with the sole purpose of recording a separated spouse’s telephone conversations? As attractive as doing this type of recording might seem in a separation or divorce, especially if you think you can catch your ex saying inappropriate things to the kids, it is absolutely a violation of s. 184 of the Criminal Code of Canada.  Whenever you intercept any conversations, to which you are not a party, whether it be by secretly placing a recording device, or hacking someone’s email, you are committing a criminal offence, for which you could be charged and convicted.  Worse, except in extreme cases where necessary to protect a child’s welfare, the evidence you collect would not be admissible in court – so you could not use it anyway. (Illegally obtained evidence is generally inadmissible.)

In addition, Family Court Judges really hate it when parents try to record conversations with kids – even if the parent is a party.  It looks like blatant manipulation, if not an attempt at parental alienation.

This video further explains the problem of recording conversation in family matters and also goes over some of the other big family law mistakes people commonly make.

The simple rule is do not even think about recording conversations in a family law situation unless you speak to a lawyer first.  If you can’t afford to retain a lawyer, then set up a consultation with one to get some specific advice to your situation.  You may also want to pick up this $20 easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law to learn more about this and other family law issues.

John Schuman is the head of the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a full service law firm located near Eglinton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Learn more about privacy laws, John at 416-446-5080 or 416-446-5847 or email

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