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Secret recordings in custody arrangements: What you need to know

With the story of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s shock-split likely to be in the news for some time to come, it’s very possible that we’ll hear more about the proposed custody arrangements of their 6 children.

Angelina reportedly said that she had concerns about how Brad was parenting their children – if this is true, their custody arrangements could end in a complex legal battle.

Sometimes, if a parent has concerns about how the other parent is interacting with their children, they may be tempted to make a recording of them with the children, or even make recordings of themselves and the other parent. Most people intend to use this as evidence in family court proceedings.

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Is it legal to record someone without them knowing when dealing with custody arrangements?

Recording someone without them knowing you’re doing it is not illegal in itself. It’s what you do with the recording that matters. If you only intend to use the recording for personal, family or household affairs, then it is usually fine to record someone without their knowledge.

If you wanted to take the recording to a family court as evidence when dealing with custody arrangements, then, as family proceedings are private, you wouldn’t normally be seen as breaking any law. You will, however, have to apply to the court for permission to use the recording.


Will a court permit any secret recordings?

In order for a court to give permission for a recording to be used as evidence in your custody arrangements proceedings, the recording must be relevant to your case. A solicitor should be able to advise you as to whether a court may or may not see your recording as relevant.

Bear in mind that you cannot edit the recording.


Should I make a transcript of the recording?

It’s a good idea to make a transcript of the recording to give to the court in your custody arrangements proceedings.


Should I speak to my solicitor before making a recording?

Speaking to your solicitor can help you to make sure that what you’re planning on recording is going to help your particular case and that you aren’t breaking any laws.


Is there anything else I need to consider?

Recording someone without their knowledge can cause damage to your relationship with that person. Before undertaking any recordings, you have to ask yourself whether what you hope to gain from taking the recording, is worth this potential conflict.

You should also make sure that the place you’re intending to conduct your recording in, is a place that is free from any rules prohibiting recordings.

It’s also important that you don’t circulate the transcript or the recording to a wider audience – as this could be breaking the law.

Recording someone without their knowledge may be useful in some circumstances, but it’s important to understand the risks that this could bring to your relationship with that person/people. By speaking to a solicitor beforehand, you can ensure that you give anything you do record the best chance of being permitted for use in the family courts.


Contact us to see how we can help you with your custody arrangements proceedings

For more information on your options call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email

We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in London WC2N 4JF and Manchester M2 4PD. Please contact us for more details.


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14th October 2016

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