Q: My wife and I are going through a hard time in our marriage right now. She is verbally abusive to me as well as our children. I don’t have a lot of money to hire an attorney to help me get a divorce. Is it legal for me to record her?
A Loyal Reader
A: In Alabama it is perfectly legal to record someone without their knowledge as long as one party to the conversation consents. So yes, you can record her.
Good divorce attorneys are expensive. I realize that a lot of people if not most people live paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to write a check for $5000 as a retainer for a really good divorce lawyer. Even if you hire someone young and inexperienced (as all lawyers were at one time) a good client that understands the issues and obtains important evidence can help make even the newest lawyer a much more effective lawyer.
Clients in a divorce know the issues and but tend to focus on the bad behavior of the other party. Courts refrain from really rewarding good versus bad behavior although someone’s conduct in leading to a divorce is very important. Judges get tired of hearing about bad behavior.
What most people don’t know to do is to keep really good records and obtain really good evidence. For instance, if you record your wife being abusive towards your children, you will need to make a note either on the recording or on a separate writing when the recording was made or it may not be admissible (the judge may not get to hear it).
One of the most effective pieces of evidence is a calendar with two inch squares and notes made on each day about who kept the children, where the other spouse was and what was important about that day in relation to the divorce. It is very powerful to make a calendar where the days the mother kept the children are in pink and the days where the father kept the children in blue. In days of transition, draw a line through the day and make a note of who kept the children and when.
If grandparents can be involved in caring for the children or other relatives such as aunts and uncles can be involved then notes of their involvement are important. Obviously, the person who shoulders the burden for school work, doctors’ appointments, dental appointments, Sunday school and generally caring for the children should be the person who primarily cares for the children after the divorce. A well kept calendar gives the judge information that he or she needs to make a final decision if the parties are unable to agree.
I wish you the best of luck in this situation and keep your focus on helping your children through this difficult time.
Buckle up and drive safely.
McCutcheon & Hamner, P.C.
2210 Helton Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630