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Tennessee Mother Records Phone Conversation for Custody Fight

As mentioned before, a divorce can affect the children in the family, not just the couple separating. In many situations, parents can come to an agreement on child support, custody and visitation agreements, making the transition easier on the kids.

But sometimes a divorce is not amicable and the couple does not agree on who should be granted custody of the children. Though custody disputes can become lengthy and frustrating, courts consider what is in the best interests of the child. Recently, an issue arose in Tennessee that questioned whether a mom could eavesdrop on her daughter’s conversation with her dad.

The mother secretly recorded the conversation and used it to try to influence the custody evaluation that was being performed during their divorce. The dad found out what she had done and sued her.

Tennessee has a wiretapping statute that makes it a crime to secretly record phone calls if the people are unaware they are being recorded. But the Tennessee courts have never made a ruling on a case like this; it is unclear whether recording a conversation between a child and parent by the other parent is unlawful.

But earlier this month, both the Circuit Court and the Court of Appeals held that it wasn’t unlawful for parents to secretly record their kids. The reasoning behind the decision centers on the parents’ right to raise their kids without interference by the courts unless the kids are endangered.

In this situation, the child involved was a toddler and therefore the parent can control the toddler’s use of the phone. The court also noted that the law did not intend to criminally punish parents for monitoring their children’s phone calls.

The court has also stated that this decision does not set an age limit as to when a child is too old to be monitored on the phone.

Source: Knoxville News Sentinel online, “Tapping kids’ calls OK,” Jaime Satterfield, 10 December 2010


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